The iPad Diaries, continued…

I wasn’t sure how I would use an iPad. That’s why I was sure I wanted one. It was like landing on a new planet without a map. It was like leaving the groomed cross-country ski trail to cut my own tracks in the woods. I couldn’t wait to get my hands and mind on one. I was first in line at the Denver Cherry Creek Apple Store on April 3rd to bring home a WiFi-only model.

Here is what I thought I’d be using an iPad for:

Newspapers and magazines
Watching my photos scroll by in slideshows set to my favorite music
Word processing, spreadsheets, and Keynote presentations
Solitaire and Bejeweled

Here is what I’m actually using it for:

Streaming movies with Netflix
Watching TV shows with iTunes
Mind-maps with MindNode
Paid content from The Financial Times, PressDisplay, Wired, and GQ
Creating blog posts
Plants v. zombies

What surprises me the most is that, after curious experimentation with the iPad book-reading apps, I now do very little long-form reading on the iPad. When I want to read a book, I pick up my Kindle. It’s simpler. It has fewer distractions. The paper-like calmness of the screen lures my mind into a slower, more receptive state. My mind on iPad is like a monkey in a cage, rattling the bars, trying everything at once. My mind on Kindle is like an owl that seldom blinks.

The other big surprise is that the iPad has restored my lost love for television. Sometime during the last five years, my wife and I simply stopped watching TV. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because watching the tube has come to seem lazy and vegetative. There is always something more interesting going on somewhere else in the house, especially at the computers. I’ve seen media buzz about hit shows like The Wire, Glee, and Mad Men, and I vaguely sensed I was missing something. With the iPad and iTunes, I’ve purchased a couple of shows and found them wonderful, especially the premier episode of The Wire’s Season 5, titled “More with Less.”

Ditto for how Netflix has revived my love of movies. With the monthly paid streaming service, I often take a break from whatever work is on my To Do list and watch a not-so-old foreign film, or an embarrassing favorite starring Meg Ryan and/or Tom Hanks. I’ll watch for 15 minutes or so, then get back to work. It’s fun. And it’s fantastic on long flights like this one from Minneapolis to Fairbanks.

The print that I read on my iPad is mainly from my Financial Times subscription. I love how they’ve replicated the distinctive apricot color of the paper version. I sometimes watch the videos of the smart reporters talking about their stories, but I find these clips hang up and buffer too much, even on our fast home WiFi. I’ve purchased two copies of Wired, just to see what they’re up to, but I don’t love it yet. Same with GQ. Too expensive and too many ads.

A promising newcomer to my iPad habits Flipboard, which makes it easy to flip through My Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as other content. I don’t really understand how it works or what it can do yet, but my fingers seem to enjoy playing with it.

About the only thing that has NOT surprised me is how handy and fun it is to use my iPad for e-mail. I’ll be glad when the operating system catches up to that of the iPhone 4, so I can see all my e-mail accounts in one inbox.

In another four months, I expect that my iPad list and habits will have evolved some more. At least a couple of times a week I check for updates to my apps, as well as the top-ranked lists to see what new creations are breaking through. The Apps Store is still my favorite app, because that’s where all the surprises come from.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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