One of the biggest lingering uncertainties about the iPad has been how exactly one uses it. Well, now we know, and it's surprisingly familiar.
As anticipated, the operating system is best thought of as an evolution of iPhone 3.0. That means that apps are running the show, with the same tray at the bottom and the same accelerometer capabilities.
To access the screen, you slide to unlock, just like on your phone. The display is practically identical (though biggie-sized, obviously), with a Home button situated at the bottom. You call up apps the same way you do on your phone, and they automatically go to full screen. You can also swipe through pictures and pages, again just like on the iPhone.
Click to viewBut how does it feel in the hand? Well, it's an inch thin and weighs just 1.5 pounds, so it's definitely easily portable. And since it's intended to be a portable device, it's got a pretty crazy proposed battery life: ten hours of video playback, and one month of standby charge.
A primary concern has been how the keyboard will work. Our money was a split-screen keyboard, but it turns out they've opted instead for to copy the iPhone again here, with a keyboard taking up the bottom half of the display when called up. It's not meant for your thumbs, apparently—you're expected to type on it as you would a physical keyboard.
There is an optional keyboard dock, that allows you to type on a standard-sized keyboard, but it doesn't look like it lends itself to easy packing. If you're taking the iPad on a roadtrip where you need to type easily, you lose a lot of the portability advantage. Seems like a halfway solution to a legitimate concern.
For web surfing, the page renders just like a browser, with navigation buttons on top. For email, you can bring a pull-down menu of the inbox.
One major disappointment—in addition to not having all that fancy face recognition I was personally pretty excited about—is that the iPad doesn't appear to support third-party app multitasking, meaning you can still only run one app at a time. Then again, maybe he's saving that for a big reveal at the end? Update: Nope. No multitasking.
So basically, it looks like the user experience is going to be just like a big ol' iPhone, for better or for worse. I'm especially curious to see how intuitive the keyboard is. But otherwise, all the multitouch features and app arrangements should feel like old hat. Guess it's time to start brushing up on our tablet sutra, everybody.
For a full rundown, be sure to check out our iPad hands-on.