Thanks to Apple’s splendidly open policy of allowing customers free access to their networked machines, and as a result of our teenage offspring’s visceral need for daily access to Twitter, I had several sessions getting acquainted with Mr. Jobs’ latest toy. The verdict? Well, it’s every bit as attractive and easy to handle as I thought it would be. If you’ve used an iPhone, then it’s just like moving up to a larger version, with the same intuitive touch technology and ease of movement between applications.
My main interest was in the one application that you can’t get on your phone: iBooks. It’s stunning. You touch a virtual book to take it from the shelf, then flick through the pages just like a real book. You can change the font, look up words, and see illustrations in glorious colour. Damn: just when I’d got myself a Kindle, along comes the iPad and makes it look like MS-DOS compared to Windows. All the more annoying, then, that iBooks probably won’t be available on the UK version of the iPad, which won’t be in the shops until late May.
Incidentally, we resorted to the Apple store for our daily dose of the internet because the wifi charges in our hotel were so exorbitant. And just before we went away, there was a spate of stories about people using their smartphones abroad and being hit with shocking bills, so I’d turned off data roaming on my iPhone. I wonder, though, why service providers in the UK (like O2 and Orange) can’t come to some kind of reciprocal arrangement with overseas providers (like AT&T), as they do for calls and texts? The assumption seems to be that emailing and looking stuff up on the Web is a peripheral luxury which you should be prepared to forego when you’re abroad. Surely this is no longer the case, and most people would be prepared to pay a small additional fee, as they do for international calls, in order to check their messages and read local restaurant reviews, etc, while they’re on holiday?
(Note to regular readers: this techy stuff is just a temporary aberration and the usual coverage of politics, culture and so on will resume as soon as I get over my jet-lag...)