[Athen] Random iPad observations

Shelley Haven ShelleyHaven at techpotential.net
Sun Apr 4 12:37:39 PDT 2010

Hi, all!

Here are some random observations about the iPad which might be of interest to the group (and please forgive any crossposting):

- You can use the iPad-to-VGA adapter to project the contents of its entire screen (unlike the iPhone/iPod Touch where you can only projects photos, etc.). However, if you have to type in a password for something, the onscreen keyboard will show your entire audience what you're typing. (Eek!)

- Since it's big and flat, the natural tendency when you're done working with it is simply lay it down on a table. And because it's big and flat, it makes a great target if you accidentally drop something. (I came oh-so-close to dropping my phone on the screen last evening!) This thing begs a case, folio, or a way to stand it vertically when not in use.

- I don't see an iPad-specific version of ShapeWriter available yet, but the iPhone version works just fine (both in normal size and expanded to 2x).

- I've used WritePad (for handwriting recognition) on my iPhone and see that there's now an iPad version. With practice, I was able to get pretty good accuracy just "writing" with my index finger. I also tried a Pogo Stylus (which duplicates the capacitance of a finger) for writing, but the recognition accuracy was about the same (http://tenonedesign.com/stylus.php). Actually, running the iPhone version on the iPad has one advantage: because it doesn't fill up the entire screen, there is space to rest your hand as you write.

- VoiceOver for iPad is the same as for the iPhone 3GS, so it pretty much reads text but does not have any of the configuration settings found in the desktop version by which one can tweak how it performs. For example, it will read aloud books from the iBookstore, but words are not highlighted with the VoiceOver cursor as they're read.

- The speakers are surprisingly good.

- Kindle for the iPad is nice, too, but no text-to-speech like the physical Kindle device.

- I found that reading books (iBooks or Kindle) was less visually fatiguing if I turned on the White on Black function under Accessibility settings. Of course, then all the pictures look weird (unless you enjoy x-ray versions of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet).

- iBooks come with an easy-to-use slider across the bottom of the pages by which to easily select a specific page.

- Obviously, an iPad is not a laptop or desktop computer, but several apps will provide remote access to your main computer from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. This offers the possibility of running a desktop application from the iPad, as if it were a remote terminal. In particular, I'm waiting for Wormhole Remote for iPad, one such program which has received good reviews:

- I'm also playing around with some notetaking applications -- MobileNoter (which sync Microsoft OneNote notebooks to an iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch), AllNotes (which includes audio recording), and Evernote's new iPad version (already available on iPhone/iPod Touch, Macs, PCs, the web, you-name-it).

- I'm awaiting iPad versions of various mind mapping applications (MindNode is currently the only iPad-specific mind map app listed -- others already available on the iPhone/iPod Touch).

- Some games on the iPad are a real kick! I downloaded Labyrinth, where you maneuver a ball through a "physical" maze by tilting the iPad -- lots of fun! (I suppose one could justify this as a test for motor control and visual-motor integration. ;-)

Lastly, I don't know if the iPad is "revolutionary" or "magical" (as Apple says), but I will say that there is definitely something "satisfying" about interacting with information with your fingers vs. remotely with a mouse or by issuing keyboard commands.

Happy touchscreening,

Shelley Haven ATP, RET
Assistive Technology Consultant

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