iPad

Three new features make the iPad even more business friendly

Erik Eckel describes the features that make the iPad 2 even better for business use. Were features on your wish list left out?

Sales of Apple's iPad 2 exceeded expectations its first weekend, with some 400,000 to a half-million units selling, many within just hours of initial release. Signs suggest Apple's iPad 2 is picking up where its popular initial model left off; some 70 percent of iPad 2 buyers are believed to be new to iPad tablet ownership.

iPad 2 buyers won't be disappointed. Apple has included three new features that make the device even more business friendly.

#1. It's more portable

One of the reasons the first iPad proved so popular (some 15 million units reportedly sold within the first year) was the device proved highly portable. I didn't think there would be that much difference between a four-and-a-half pound MacBook Pro and a pound-and-a-half iPad, but the iPad quickly replaced my laptop when performing day-to-day tasks as a full-time IT consultant. In the field, the iPad simply proved lighter, faster and easier to use when taking notes, auditing systems, managing email and calendars, diagramming networks, and performing other common chores.

The iPad 2? The new design is a third thinner and up to 15% lighter. That means the tablet computer is even more portable than the original. A lighter and thinner model will prove even easier to tuck inside a folio or case and take it on the road.

The iPad isn't a desktop replacement. But it's not meant to be. It's an innovative and highly mobile device that delivers incredible power to business users' fingertips, and the thinner design and lighter weight will further fuel its adoption.

#2. It's faster

The original iPads were fast. I've actually turned it on, joined a public Wi-Fi network, logged on remotely to a server and disabled a user account faster than a decent business laptop will even boot into Windows.

The iPad 2 is even faster.

The 1GHz single-core Apple A4 CPU performed well, winning accolades for its speed and miserly energy consumption. A new dual-core A5 CPU powers the iPad 2, providing significant performance improvement and smoother multitasking. Using the new and faster chip, Apple engineers were still able to achieve the same 10-hour battery life of its predecessor, this despite the new A5's graphics engine performing up to nine times faster than the first generation tablet.

#3. Video Mirroring aids presentations

Many users leverage their iPads in meetings, when traveling or as a secondary device when a laptop isn't required. Conducting presentations with the first generation iPad, however, was typically best when presenting only to a few people, possibly at an informal meeting at a local coffee shop.

Not so with the iPad 2. New Apple Digital AV/VGA Adapters enable connecting the iPad 2 to large HDTVs or projectors. The video mirroring feature now makes it possible to use an iPad more easily to conduct a presentation, show videos to large groups and collaborate with larger audiences.

The process works instantly, doesn't require additional software, and demands no complex settings adjustments nor memorization of funky shortcut key combinations. Once connected via the adapter, all attendees with a view of the connected display see what displays on the iPad's screen. Rotate the iPad 2 and the display adjusts correspondingly. The same is true when zooming in or our using the iPad's Multi-Touch gestures.

An optional 30-pin HDMI adapter adds audio support to iPad 2-powered presentations. The same HDMI adapter also includes a second USB plug for connecting a power cord, so presenters need not worry they'll lose battery power before the presentation completes.

What features were omitted?

Were you hoping other business features would be included? Sure, the multiple cameras, Facetime support and attractive cases are all fine and good, but only a select few professions or personalities can truly leverage those features. Instead, many may be left pining for Adobe Flash support (it isn't coming), a wired Ethernet port (would be nice for IT pros who must configure routers) or a universal USB port (for simplified data transfer or backup). What business features would you like to have seen included in the second generation iPad?

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

25 comments
Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I connect my iPad 1 to a projector regularly for presentations, though I will agree that there are some limitations that have been resolved with the newer model. With the older one, Keynote and the iPod functions (videos, etc...) worked fine, but you couldn't display a given web page unless you had a snapshot of that page--the browser wouldn't mirror. The newer model lets you mirror anything from your home screen to your browser to whatever--a much more complete capability.

sperry532
sperry532

I agree with Vulpine. The iPad's lack of handwriting recognition or direct stylus input does limit it for me and my company. Neon Samurai is correct that the Apple Newton's recognition software worked very well. I suspect the HR code would require a complete rewrite to work on the iPad, hence the new, patentable software. Additionally, an SD slot would help as would a USB port. The addition of these three items would enhance the iPad's usability by an order of magnitude at least.

abc123a
abc123a

I would like to see the iPad get an SD Slot for external storage and a larger memory (128GB or 256GB) would be great.

JonGauntt
JonGauntt

I'll be glad for the day we can utilize wireless projection from iPads in our classrooms. You can utilize Black Network devices to do it from PCs, laptops and Macs, but there is still not a way to add a token for authentication to the iPad. I know it would take a bit longer, but the freedom from the cord would be very useful. As long as presentations aren't heavy with graphics it works well from other platforms. Maybe I shouldn't dream of removing the podium from some of our classrooms so that there can be more collaboration between faculty and students, but I still think it will make for a better learning environment.

glenstorm_98
glenstorm_98

In my own employer's domain, they have ruled against the use of the iPad because of it's too-simple password scheme. Four numbers, and you're in. They wanted a standard password that could be entered with a keyboard instead of a phone-like keypad. I can't imagine why Apple wouldn't provide such an option.

bob.irving
bob.irving

Erik, why do you use the word "leverage" instead of "use" or "employ"? Moreover, "leverage" is a noun, not a verb. I suppose it gives the impression that your piece is connected with the powerful financial investment business where "leverage" is (another) piece of jargon. Please don't do this sort of thing as it reduces the value of words and makes me cringe!

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

As far as I'm concerned, only one feature is missing--the ability to hand-write in a notepad or word processor and have it converted to editable text on the fly. Apple submitted a patent application for this about a year and a half ago and I'm hoping that when (if) the patent is approved, it will appear on their tablets immediately after. I could care less about the hardware gegaws like USB ports and SD card ports, I just want this one more bit of usability.

travis.duffy
travis.duffy

it's inadequate encryption and lack of good security features keeps it out of this business.

robingj
robingj

Couldn't agree more about the absence of mirroring in the 1st gen. It was a big oversight. Will the iPad 2 cables work with a first generation iPad on IOS 4 or do users have to Jailbreak it and use a workaround?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'm just waiting for a specific capability to move it that one last step for me--and that's purely software. As for the SD and USB ports--as I say above, I really don't see why there's such a demand; I can't see what real benefit they can offer a tablet.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

From what I've read with the few Android devices that have that capability, application response is visibly inhibited when accessing the SD card. Using one for photo storage or transfer to/from the iPad is reasonably efficient; I really don't need more than that. I realize you and others want more, but I honestly don't think you'll use it as much as you think.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

If you look at Apple's AirPlay system, any AirPlay device, like the new AppleTV, can directly stream audio and video from your desktop/laptop computer or iDevice. Even the older AppleTV can do it from an OS X machine, using the iDevice as a remote control. I've already done it myself using the AppleTV v.1. With the low price of the v.2 AppleTV, connecting one to a projector or using an AirPlay-ready projector or TV in every classroom would be relatively cheap and easy. You wouldn't even need to worry about interference from other classrooms since each AppleTV can be paired with a specific computer or group of computers. The technology you want is already here.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You can set any password you want into the iPad, far beyond a four-number pin. The pin is just the default setting for those less-concerned individuals.

RealNonZealot
RealNonZealot

It makes *me* cringe when the use of a perfectly good, but perhaps newer and less usual word is summarily labeled "jargon". "Leverage" is a perfectly valid verb (http://bit.ly/g8yjA7) meaning in this case "to use for gain" (as distinguished from simply "to use") and makes the sentence less humdrum, more interesting, and expresses the thought more precisely.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

They where doing handwriting recognition with the Newton and more successfully with the N2001. Did they really need to file a patent just to re-implement handwritting recognition? (Admittedly, the Newton 2001 was the best for recognition at the time outside of Palm with it's limited but clearly identifiable Graffiti alphabet.)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

He seems to be desiring an SD slot plus more onboard memory rather than multiple SD slots. More onboard memory is never a bad thing either. If the person is not making use of all the extra storage, it simply provides more surface area to slow the eventual maxing out of the flash right limit. If someone can make use of it for storage, so much the better (just don't max out storage with regularly changing content). Personally, I don't make use of SD as removable storage primarily. On the notebook, it's my boot device; try and evil maid me when the only unencrypted storage is the boot loader on the SD in my pocket. The N900 like the last few Nokia's I've seen hide the SD slot in under the battery cover so it's great for extending storage space but not going to give you much removable storage; use "flashdrive mode" for that I guess. My personal flashdrive is actually an SD in a single slot reader (even my thumdrive has a removable/replaceable "harddrive" :D ). Actually, the last thing I used regularly that had multiple SD slots was the N800. It was nice to have the option to pop out the second SD and pop in one from the camera for review or pull the SD, plug it into the desktop and sync it. I didn't do that much photography that needed on location review though and rsync over SSH is easier than moving the SD back and forth. For me, it's much more about extending device storage or saving write limits on the internal soldered nand. Now, for use as extended storage; absolutely. Device only has 32 gig of storage; drop an SD into it and double that. Provided storage space is not something your using to justify different sku numbers.

juhlster1021
juhlster1021

I agree. Language changes. Leverage was once just a noun, but now it's also a verb. That's why English is so frustrating -- and so robust. I can be a curmudgeon, too, but hey, Shakespeare made verbs from nouns, nouns from verbs, and new words to suit his needs. Leverage does convey an "exploit" connotation that the suggested substitutes lack.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"most people use there Ipad when..." is more clear and avoids the hype and spin of business buzwords. As much as "leverage" may be a valid verb, it's over-use in business has long since erroded it's value as anything but a power-tie wearing buzword. When I read Eric's line I actually get to images in mind: "leverage their Ipad" - someone with a long stick and pivot point prying up the corner of an Ipad resting on the floor. - soemone with an ipad "leveraging" it to pry open a door. I wouldn't tear a strip out of Eric for it here but "leveraging" has become nauseatingly overused. It's now just another Fop in the court of King Hype'n'Buz.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Up to now, handwriting recognition was based on single-character recognition, much like your typical OCR for scanners--they're good, but even they make mistakes due to unclear copies. Single-character recognition of handwriting can be several orders of magnitude worse unless you train yourself to write exactly so. If you research Apple's patent application, it attempts OWR--Optical Word Recognition. It looks at the complete string of characters and attempts to determine the word based on an internal dictionary. Odds are that the results will be far more accurate than trying to decipher one character at a time.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In terms of updates, if it's a hardware issue then fair enough. The N800/N810 shared the same OS and hardware funcationality but the improved GPU and such in the N900 meant that the last version of Maemo could not simply be flashed onto one's N8#0 device; it didn't physically have the hardware to push the new OS. I can see Ios doing the same thing as it's development eclipses each oldest supported generation of hardware depending on how Apple adds new hardware components. Now out of support, the first gen Iphone at home is ripe and crying out for modding. I guess that's one benefit of viable hardware falling out of support; it's become an extra brick around home with somewhat of a vibrant modder community to keep it going for lack of updates from the original vender.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You and I are techies to a greater or lesser extent. I personally look for the easiest tools to use because I get tired of having to tweak, repair and reinstall my clients' machines and the iPad as well as Apple's other products meet my needs very well. As a result, many IT professionals I know have also switched to Macs for their personal machines. They still work in Windows at their jobs, but love the fact that they can turn off their 'working' mind at home and just relax. Now, I used to have a Sony Clie and my wife had a Handspring PDA. Both of them used SmartMedia cards for memory expansion and honestly, they needed them; they simply did not have enough on-board storage. Tablet technology today has far more capacity and power than those old PDAs which makes such expansion, at best, an optional item than a real necessity. The same holds true for the USB port so many techies think is so necessary; with the compact apps and files, external storage simply isn't needed as much. Also, when you consider that today's electronics any more are considered mostly throwaway items, anything that can extend the usable life of a product beyond a year or two is a benefit, and with the solid construction of the iPad with limited potential for internal damage due to only one communications port and one audio-in/out port I think you'll find the average iPad will last twice as long as the competition. I could be wrong and somebody that takes especial care of their non-Apple device could easily make it last longer, but I don't think it will do as well in average hands. Something I don't know, however, is how well iOS upgrades will treat older devices. The upgrade to iOS 4.0 had a seriously detrimental effect on the battery life of my 3G iPhone which was finally restored with the 4.1 and 4.2 updates, but it proved that as more power comes available, the iOS upgrades tend to need that power, just as desktop OSes have done for the last 30 years. Android won't be any different. For now, my first-gen iPad hasn't seen any detrimental affects from the iOS updates, but iOS 5 could tell a different story. I'll just have to wait and see.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My N900 has 32gig onboard with 32gig additional in SD. I have come close to maxing out the 32bit SD since I use that for all my transfered content. The one limitation I run into is that one can't select a config toggle and merge the two into a single raid0 so what uses the internal storage by default is limited to how it's partitioned between user space, app space and factory protected stuff like Nokia's GPS map data. Still, until flash memory write limits get a lot closer to platter drives, it's nice to keep my most transent data wearing away a removable chip instead of reducing the overall usable lifespan of the device. (I really should look at doing an Android and/or Debian partition on the SD as the choice of a 32gig card was based on using some of that for other bootable OS.) The speed issue I don't get so much either. The difference between running a full system off the SD or off the onboard wasn't noticable with my N810. I guess if that SD slot is going into the USB loop instead of something more direct (like how SATA and IDE merges in). That may become more noticable as program and file sizes inevitably increase though too. Now, the adapter itself is fine for adhoc use but it'll start to suck having that nob sticking out the side/bottom if one makes regular use of the additional SD storage. I'm not sure how much is permitted by Ios though.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

On the other hand, used for file transfer purposes could be beneficial. But then, when you have one 'universal' slot that can serve the need via a tiny, plug-in adaptor, the separate slot becomes unnecessary. I can also agree that more on-board storage can be useful, but I find it difficult to believe anyone really needs more than 64Meg at the moment because of the compact size of the OS, applications and files. You might need it if you choose to fully load your media library onto it, but for productivity, you don't need anywhere near that much. I have a fair amount of my media library on my iPad 1 and still have room for some 60+ apps and associated files on 32 Gig.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

But I think you're right that this approach could make significant strides forward for both English and other languages. It's conceivably possible that on-board automatic translation could be made easier, too.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

So it's at least a new approach to the problem though I think it's a shame that the patent, if awarded, will be used to block other's from developing similar solutions. That's is a patent issue not an Apple issue though. The company is just doing what such companies do thanks to the now highly exploited patent system. It'll be interesting either way. With all the word recognition inputs I've mucked with, Palm's original Graffiti remains the most accurate and fastest for input. Newton2k1 was accurate but limited writing speed. Word recognition would also open it up to languages where writing begins at the word level not single character level.