This Week in Mobile Tech Manor #83: Typing on iPad

The end of the week is here and time for another look back at the happenings in Mobile Tech Manor. This was the first week with the iPad (s aapl) in hand, literally, and many hours were spent touching and swiping on the screen. I looked at many apps for the iPad, and came to appreciate some old favorites.
It has been an amusing week, watching those on the web trade barbs over the iPad. It seems that the iPad evokes either a strong favorable opinion or a fiery dislike from everyone, with nothing in between. I can confidently state that those with the dislike are by and large in the group that has not used the iPad, which is telling in and of itself.
I have enjoyed using the iPad in a number of ways as I feel out the best ways to use it. What I’ve come to realize is there is no best way; the beauty of the iPad is that it can be used in various locations, in a number of ways. The truth is it feels right no matter how I use it — in portrait orientation like a book, in landscape while holding it, on a table using the case to prop it up. I find I gravitate to whatever arrangement feels right, and I don’t have to give it a lot of thought. I simply pick it up and use it.
The iPad is not a notebook/ netbook replacement, which many are happy to point out. It’s not a replacement for anything, really. What it is is a whole new way of working with information, either on the web or in documents. It is like a little window into that information, as the iPad is totally out of the way while accessing it. It’s the tool that gets totally out of the way while being used, and that is very liberating.
It is obvious that a notebook is better for some things, but the iPad is much better at many, if that’s what you have with you at the time. It’s easy to carry with you and it’s very easy to use. That’s a powerful combination, and why the iPad is a good tool.
I am writing this column on the iPad, sitting in my easy chair while watching TV with my family. I have the iPad in landscape orientation, propped up in the Apple case at a comfortable typing angle. The onscreen keyboard is comfortable to use in this configuration, and I am going to town writing this.
I did not set out to force myself to write this on the iPad. I realized sitting here that I could knock this column out, so I picked up the iPad and got to work. If writing it on the virtual keyboard had been too much trouble I would have stopped right away. I am not one to force myself to write a long column on a device that is frustrating me. If it feels good, do it.
I wrote this in the WordPress app which works well. There is no WYSIWYG editor, so you have to use the HTML editor in the app. I only wrote it as a draft so I didn’t have to get into any HTML, which is good as those days are behind me. I saved it as a draft to the blog and then finalized it on the Mac. It worked very well, better than I thought it would.
I have gotten pretty fast at typing on this keyboard. It’s not perfect, but it works better at longer pieces than I thought it would. Making short entries such as responding to email is simple, and I do a lot of that in both portrait and landscape orientations. Longer entries I would normally not undertake, but this is working out quite well.
There are some things I wish worked differently on the iPad, but for the most part I like it. It is a natural way to do most things.
I am quite pleased with the SugarSync app on the iPad, and how all of my files are available without taking up a lot of the limited space on the device. I can work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint docs using the iWork apps. I am finding that this method turns the iPad into a production tool with good value.
We use Google Docs at GigaOM, and I read Kevin’s method for working with them on the iPad with great interest. I think what he uncovered is fantastic, but I heard about a free app that I am really finding useful. Memeo Connect is only a viewer of Google Docs, but that’s what I usually do with my docs remotely.
The interface of Memeo Connect is an attractive folder scheme. The doc viewer is outstanding, with all types of documents (DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF, images, video) displaying perfectly. Memeo syncs docs with the iPad so important ones are always available, even without a web connection. I highly recommend this app for Google Docs users.
e-Books of the week
I am reading on the iPad a lot, and this week I continued the saga of an altered WWII reality with Harry Turtledove’s great series. In Upsetting the Balance the Big Uglies (humans) finally begin hitting back at the aliens that invaded during WWII. I enjoy a good story and I am enjoying this series a lot. I had been reading the series with eReader on the iPhone, but this week I started reading using it on the iPad. It’s not a native iPad app which is a shame, but I find the pixel doubled screen to be fine for reading. The text is not as pretty, but it’s quite pleasant to use.
I also began reading Roadside Crosses by Jefferey Deaver, a great thriller. I picked it up in the iBookstore to give the iPad’s native reader a try. It is a reader as good as Kindle on the iPad. The book is typical Deaver and I recommend it.
That’s the way my week went down in the home office, Mobile Tech Manor. It was an interesting week as I constantly learned something new about the iPad. This device will be game changing for many, with a design totally dedicated to the mobile experience.
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