Apple TV Initial impressions

I just picked up the new Apple TV last night at the somewhat local Apple Store. I’ve been messing with it for a few hours and figured I’d take some notes on my initial thoughts.

  • It’s small
  • It does NetFlix
  • No recurring fees (like XBox 360 for example)
  • iPad mirroring is awesome
  • Streams music/videos from my iMac without hassle
  • YouTube+Mirroring = Win

Setting it up was kind of a pain. The UI has lots of nested elements. Setting it up to pull pictures from my flickr account was confusing. The keyboard is missing some things that most people have come to expect.

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An Android User Buys an iPad

Why is this a big deal?
When Apple launched the first iPad in 2009 I thought that I would be the last person to get one. I didn’t understand what useful purpose having one would have. I said the same thing about the MacBook Air when it first came out as well.

Thinking back, I think I made the right decision by not buying either device when it came out. Both were first generation models and had a few kinks still. I’m usually not really the early adopter type anyway.

Fast forward a few years, and here I am typing this up on my new “The new iPad”. Using the onscreen keyboard of all things.

The thing that pushed me over the edge on this model was the screen. The CPU, ram, etc in the iPad 2 were decent but I was honestly waiting for a Super AMOLED+ screen to come out on a 10″ tablet. So far it hasn’t happened yet, but the next best thing did. Apple released a tablet with a screen resolution that’s higher than anything else that I’ve ever owned. I looked around and realized that nobody else was even close with their screens in this regard, and later realized that nobody was even going to try and match it.

The new iPad Launch in March 2012

That had me waiting in line at 5:40am at my local Apple store last Friday. I’ve waited a week to really get to know the thing before I said anything.

I think my perspective is unique, yet common at the same time. I’m very accustomed to the whole Android ecosystem and was with Adobe during the whole Flash mess. I’ve found it difficult at first adjusting to the way Apple has done things and haven’t found a lot from searching Google for solutions.

This, this post is born. I’m hoping that if anybody else has made the leap or is thinking about it, this post will provide a little more insight on what you’re in for.

Comparison
I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 as well as the Motorola Xoom tablet a fair amount. I also own a Nook color. The OS is very familiar as I also have used several Android phones over the years.

The thing that stood out to me when I first started messing with the iPad was how simple everything was. It doesn’t have that search button that I never used. It’s missing a menu and back button as well. There is no app drawer, just icons on the screen. To access settings, there is an app on my screen that just has a list of them. I’ve warmed up to these things and found that I can navigate the various functions of the device a lot faster.

The next thing that has really stuck out is how awesome the stock keyboard is on this. I’ve can nearly type as fast as I can on my PC with this which impressed me a lot. It’s fairly accurate as well. I’m not going to do development work here, but typing emails and a blog post here and there is actually quite pleasant. On Android, one of the first things I did was install Swiftkey or Swype.

Its also worth mentioning that the screen on this is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Its unbelievably sharp. Its also bright and the colors are really nice. Aside from my Samsung’s Super AMOLED, its probably the nicest screen I’ve ever used. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the market for a tablet.

On the opposite side of things, I’ve missed the more open nature that Android has. I like have options for browsers. Especially since there are some killer features that Chrome has right now that Safari is lacking. I would also love to see a Google Music app on iOS at some point, but I don’t think that’ll happen for a while.

I’ve also noticed that Google has done a really fine job at getting various cloud service providers to write their own official apps for their store. There are official Flickr and Twitter apps in the Android market that I really like. On my iPad, I’ve found the best Flickr app is made by a 3rd party. This may be a good thing in the long run but it makes it hard to find a decent app for things.

Work Arounds
At the beginning of this week, I was planning to return my “The new iPad” because of these limitations. The not having Google Music has been a big problem for me. I’ve found some work arounds thought that I’m experimenting with and figured I’d share.

I still have until Friday of next week to return this though, so take everything with a grain of salt.

The obvious answer for the Google Music problem was to start using iTunes. I downloaded my entire library from Google and imported it. I like having my play and stop keys on my keyboard work again. I miss though the portability that Google Music gave me. iCloud+iTunes Match seems to be the way to go here, but I have a problem having to pay $24/year for iCloud to do something that I can already do in Google Music for free.

Since I can’t get iTunes on my Android phone, nor can I get an iPhone (cause I’m broke from buying a freaking iPad and I’d have to switch carriers again as well as put up with a phone bill that’s 30% higher), this has presented a challenge without an easy solution. Please let me know if you he found a sneaky way to sync your phone with iTunes.

As far as Google Chrome goes, the main feature I wanted from that was the new functionality that lets you send tabs to your computer from your tablet or phone and back again. It’s very simple and it’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time.

I also like how I can log in and sync my settings, bookmarks, and passwords across all of my devices.

Currently Safari doesn’t do this. In some early reviews of Mountain Lion, I’ve read that Apple is building in support for this. I can understand this as its a fairly new feature.

In terms of apps, the built in iOS Twitter app isn’t bad. I’ve also found apps built by third parties that do well in helping me add photos to my Flickr account. I’ve also just found out today that the new iPhoto app supposedly integrates with Flickr as well.

Conclusion?
To wrap up, I still have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I could very well go in and return this next week and cross my fingers for an Android tablet that has a decent screen and doesn’t completely suck to use.

Part of me though is curious about the unknown and is bored with what I have right now. I have a desire to try something new and this might be it. The question I guess is, am I curious enough to have the patience to monkey around with stuff until I have something I’m happy with? The unknown can be a frustrating place.

I’ll be sure to post a follow up next week and let everybody know what I eventually wound up doing.