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A few days ago, I traveled to an Apple Store to get my iPad updated to the latest version given some of the security issues that it addressed. In respect to life without a conventional laptop or PC, this iPad just tends to get updated whenever I’m able to get an appointment at an Apple Store. That’s not bad, and they do a great job at any store I’ve visited. But, their excitement over features that I’ve had in my mobile phone is just kind of interesting.

For example, when I was talking with the person who was upgrading my iPad, he had some genuine excitement about being able to update the OS without needing a PC or redownloading the entire OS when iOS 5 comes out this fall. And I agree. The only reason that I was in that store is because of this tether to a PC that Apple decided was necessary for iOS 4 toting iPads.

You should have seen his face when I mentioned that I’ve been doing over-the-air (OTA) updates on my mobile phone(s) for the better part of the past four years. Yep, even with the Palm Treo 650 and 680, I was able to update the operating system without connecting to a PC. With that ancient model, I even had the option of downloading the update to my SD card and then using that card to update several models. Of course, I’m using Nokia devices now, and its just flat out great to have everything from applications, to security patches, to full firmware updates able to happen over the air. Did I mention that that creaky, old Symbian also has the ability to backup settings, info, etc. onto a memory card before you do the update? Yep. Its an old feature.

But, that excitement. Its genuine. That guy was very excited for that, and the many other advancements coming in iOS 5. About the only other feature that I care about at this point is the notifications improvements. Getting a calendar popup when I’m in the middle of doing something on this tablet is just annoying. I’m still quite undecided about whether I’ll use iCloud or not. I think its optional – but that’s something that I’ll need to read about in detail before I make that update.

He and I talked a good bit about that update. He was excited about the tabbed browser, but that’s another area where I think that it could have been done better. I know, this negative attitude about Apple-goodness is defeating only myself, but hear me out here. If you are on your tablet, what kind of sense does it make for you to take away the space that you have to view a website for tabs? And not just have the tabs, but you also have to put your fingers over the top of the screen to go back and forth. At this point, there’s no mention of using gestures of any kind to keep that from being the case.

Now, if I were Apple, this is how I would have implemented a tab-like feature:

(a) I’d keep the current browser chrome but move the button that shows how many tabs/windows you have open to the end of the row. That way its on the right side and your hand will never cover the screen when you attempt to cover it. Or,
(b) I’d use the three finger gesture that’s used on the Magic Trackpad to go between workspaces to pull out the current browser screen and see all the open tabs (similar to what’s seen now), or,
(c) Use the three finger gesture and a motion left or right to slide between windows in the browser (or any application for that matter)

Those kinds of things work with the screen and UI of the tablet and work on things that aren’t done on devices that are old enough that we know that such PC-like conventions just don’t translate well.

But, I think Apple will get that and other kinds of kinks ironed out in time. Who knows, maybe they’ll even read this post and figure that Mr Wright was right about this – even if he doesn’t subscribe to all the excitement that is an upcoming Apple product 😉

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