Setting Up my iPad 2

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I won an iPad 2 at a raffle recently (a 16GB wifi-only that I upgraded to 32GB wifi-only) and finally got around to setting it up this weekend. So farI like it, but it’s not quite as intuitive as people (and marketing) have led me to believe.

Keep in mind that I come from a Windows/Android world. I have all Windows PCs at home (with the exception of my Synology NAS, which is basically a small Linux box). My phone, my wife’s phone, and my parents’ phones are all Android. While I’ve messed around with a Mac a bit, the majority of my Apple experience is with my 160GB iPod Classic and iTunes on Windows.

The first thing I hit was the initial setup. I know this is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world, but the things they ask, when you’re not familiar with Apple-speak, are not really clear. Do I want to set up iCloud? I don’t know. Does it cost me anything? Is it going to mess with any of the other sync services I’ve got going on to keep my Windows stuff up to date? If I say no now, will I be able to change it later or is this one of those questions that will hose you if you don’t get it right the first time? Nearly every “simple question” asked became a tiny research project to figure out exactly what it meant.

The next thing I ran into was the fact that apparently the USB ports in my primary computer at home are not powerful enough to charge the iPad. It’ll sync, but not charge. Not a huge deal, but surprising since every other USB device I own does just fine with it.

Once I got it all synced up (I’m only syncing books and movies since I don’t anticipate listening to music on it, at least not right now) I started getting a few apps and setting them up. That’s when I discovered that I have been utterly spoiled bySwype. I’ve been using Swype on my Android phone to enter text very quickly and easily so switching back to the hunt-and-peck style touch screen keyboard really sucked. (I’m reading now that you can get Swype for iOS, so I’m going to have to go do that.)

Another thing I discovered as I was setting things up: There’s no “back” button. On Android, I can do something like…

  • Start up an application.
  • Log in and go to the settings panel.
  • Decide I don’t want to do settings and hit the “back” key to get out.
  • Continue using the application.

On iPad, you are somewhat at the mercy of the application developer. If they don’t include a “back” button in the UI, the best you can do is hit the One Home Button and try starting out from scratch. This was really a pain as I was looking at the Epicurious app, where you search for recipes and maybe want to go back to the “home” screen or go back to see your search results. There seems to be a defect where the “back” button in the UI sometimes just disappears so you get stuck. You can’t get out. I admit not having that ubiquitous hardware “back” button actually sort of put me in a little panic mode a couple of times.

I noticed in the apps is that the settings seem to be “split” across in-app settings and global settings. Some settings you change by going into the application and managing them from there. Others you have to go into the “Settings” app to manage. I didn’t even discover them in the “Settings” app until really late in the game because there are so many settings categories that you have to scroll down to get to the apps section.

I had a hell of a time getting wifi sync to work. You can plug your iPad in and it is supposed to detect if your computer is running iTunes and then automatically sync. I checked the option in iTunes to allow wifi sync, but for some reason it just wasn’t working. I ended up finding a forum where people had to disable and re-enable UPnP on their router for it to work. I did that and magically things started functioning. Not sure how non-techies are supposed to figure that out.

Let’s just say the iPad experience is taking some getting used to.

One thing I wish it had was a multi-user setup. I want to use the iPad and set up GMail, Facebook, Twitter, and all that with my user accounts. But my wife also wants to use the iPad. Our only real option right now is to sign in and out of every app every time. That’s a pain in the ass to say the least. I mean, I can see that iPhone is probably not really a multi-user tool, and iPod could go either way… I even faked out iTunes years ago… but an iPad is like a family device. Sounds pretty multi-user to me.

But I got it set up, and so far I’m enjoying it. I did a Skype session with my mom and it was really smooth. I bought The Monster at the End of This Book and my daughter was sucked in so bad she kept trying to tear the iPad out of my hands so she could hold it all by herself. I bought iMovie so I can mess with some video editing (though I still have to figure out how to get pictures and video off the iPad and onto my computer). I can see that after I get settled into it, I’ll have a good time. It’s just going to take some real getting used to… and possibly me having to relinquish some of that control over my environment that I hold dear.