What the iPad can and can’t do

iPad shotsIf you believe what Apple tells you, the iPad is going to change the way you do just about everything. It’s the best web browser, the best movie viewer, the best way to read a book, and so on and so on. Realistically, though, it will probably change very little, at least for now.

The iPad is really just a big iPhone, albeit a very pretty, big iPhone, but not much more. It’s still lacking multitasking, which is a big deal if you’re going to use it as a productive device. Want to listen to Pandora while you’re typing out some emails? Sorry. Switch back and forth between email and a document? You’ll have to exit one to get to the other. The iPad also doesn’t have Flash support, which makes that “best browsing experience” feel like something from the dark ages. Sure you can watch your videos via apps, but that means more switching between applications.

It’s a problem of maturity for Apple’s new platform. The closed system has worked well enough for the iPhone, but we’re all sick of the restrictions on the device and the limitations of the App Store. We want Google Voice. Real Google Voice, not that web app trash. I want to use my iPad for Flash videos and watching DivX. For Ninjavideo. All of those things are limited by a platform that was designed for a mobile phone, not a web device.

For all the things the iPad can’t do, though, it can do one thing very well: evolve. The hardware is compelling enough and cheap enough to get into a lot of hands. As more people are ready to use the device, I’m willing to bet Apple will consider opening things up. If not, we’ve always got George Hotz.


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