Does the iPad 2 matter? Yes, No and Kind Of

Like a good many people, I was puzzled when Apple announced the original iPad last year. At the time, my life had already been colonized by an iPhone and a MacBook, so I honestly just didn’t know what seemingly narrow niche in my routine I could cram it into. As for the name, well, we all remember the the internet’s collective cringe and…let’s just not talk about it.

In a year’s time, Steve Jobs and his Apple crew have managed to convince us that not only is the iPad not ridiculous, but it might not even be superfluous. Like a great many innovations, we just didn’t know we needed it until there it was, teasing us with its very existence. The iPad didn’t just dominate the tablet market in 2010, it created the market to begin with and then did the tech equivalent of smashing the backboard into a thousand glassy pieces with a slam dunk, just like in NBA Jam.

As for me, I’m still kind of grappling with my original iPad. I bought it in November, and I since haven’t wholly integrated it into my routine. Much like a great torrid affair might begin, the iPad and I spent the better part of the first week in bed. Things were new, and I felt my entire all-too connected existence transform right before my eyes. I drafted flowing openings to probably 5 different columns that lauded the iPad for breathing new life into the ailing web. Websites just looked good, better than on my laptop, better than on my 4.3″ smartphone. I spent hours flicking around in the App Store, hunting for the core set of apps that would bedeck my home screen.

When the honeymoon period came crashing down around me, I started forgetting about my iPad for days at a time. In my apartment, I’d misplace it and walk around calling out to it, half expecting it to chirp back with some decidedly Appley distress call. When I found it, under the side of the bed or buried under a stack of unopened mail, it was usually too late: I’d forgot what I wanted to do with it and then I just couldn’t come up with anything.

Since those days, our relationship has undergone something of a renaissance. After making a conscious effort to shoehorn it into my routine, things seem to be sticking. In fact, I’m typing on it right now, since a Bluetooth keyboard works wonders for making it an actually functional hunk of aluminum.

Day to day , I tend to use it like a radio, literally. With the NPR app, I often live stream my favorite local channel in Kentucky. It’s soothing in a way; I know the local announcers and what times things are syndicated. The implication of course is that my $500 piece of equipment replaced a gadget that would cost me 5 bucks, if that.

But it doesn’t matter. I still don’t know what I use my iPad for exactly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the iPad 2. Like all of Apple’s finest creations, the iPad exceeds the sum of its parts. It manages to transcend its limitations (and as an Android user, I can safely say there are many) to present an experience so polished, so cohesive, that it actually overrides any logical objections to buying a $500 radio that might have otherwise presented themselves. (Sure, plenty of people do plenty more amazing things with the iPad, but I’m still something of a tourist, obviously.)

When David Pogue of The New York Times reviewed the iPad 2, he launched into a meta-analysis of his own emotions. Usually this kind of sentimentality would rub me the wrong way, but honestly, he was getting at what I feel is the heart of the iPad experience. Those manipulative FaceTime commercials tap into the same thing. Nevermind that the iPad 2 doesn’t bother with having a decent camera, a better screen, or any ports to speak of: it just feels better. And the iPad is all about feeling. The experience of manipulating your own personal 10″ portal to the web through Apple’s hyper-responsive touchscreen cannot be understated.

Of course, if you look beyond your own primal futurelust reaction to the iPad 2, it’s a cursory upgrade. Apple had a year’s head start on the competition (which these days is Android of course, with tablets like the Xoom) and they spent it whittling down the iPad 2’s dimensions. The new iPad is 33% thinner and 15% lighter so that it feels better. There’s that word again.

Apple didn’t need to pack this thing full of ports, plug in a camera as good as the iPhone 4 or even upgrade the screen. The iPad 2 will sell itself for another year, easily. Apple’s second iPad is all about polish, not change. Hell, if you don’t plan on using FaceTime for group-weeping like in the commercials, the iPad 2 is basically the same device. If you’re a serious iPad gamer, the new A5 processor will make this thing zip along like crazy, so there’s that. And you can opt for the new white version, if you’d prefer your bezel to be more pronounced, rather than less, you know, like makes sense.

The iPad OG started the revolution here, and I don’t think it’s quite done. When Apple launched the iPad 2, it immediately whacked $100 off the original iPad’s price. That means that you only need to pay $399 for the essentially slightly less hot twin of the best tablet on the market. Just like the iPod nano opened up a world of “luxury” gadgets to people who thought they’d never be able to sport a pair of white earbuds, the original iPad keeps the revolution coming, just like it did in 2010.

Taylor has written 136 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. Thank you for this Taylor! I feel that your writing is hyper-inclusive, inclusive like a rainbow, since I identify with this/had similar feelings upon seeing the iPad2 videos and I don’t own an iPad. Also a high-five and a chest bump for using the word “meta”. Love that.

  2. Exactly! I don’t have an iPad, but I have a laptop and an iPod touch and an XBox, so all of my needs are fulfilled. But still, I really really really really want one. And now I kinda get why.

    I wish Autostraddle would do an article comparing Android phones to iPhones, because my boypal has an Android phone and forbids me from getting an iPhone, but I don’t understand what the differences are? Technology is so confuzzlin’.

    • Here is this Android fangirl’s shortlist of reasons Android rocks:

      – greater choice of handsets (and any choice at all in handset manufacturers)
      – open marketplace
      – basically I’m just an iconoclast and like to have something DIFFERENT~

      That being said, there are some advantages to iOS as well, the main one being that there are a lot of apps on the App Store that haven’t been ported to Android (and many of them will probably never be ported to Android).

  3. I feel like both Apple and Google have such wonderfully special places in my nerdy, nerdy heart. Apple has the hardware I want; Google the software/apps/web suites. Why can’t Appleware just be fully compatible with the Googley software I like and everyone get along? We are all special snowflakes.

    • If you don’t mind me being super nitpicky here, it’d actually more of Google’s fault if it doesn’t work on Apple’s hardware since they’re the ones creating the software. >.>

    • Bahh, I mean either of Apple’s operating systems (OS X or iOS) rather than Apple’s hardware. Anyways, in general, it’s the software’s producer who’s responsible for making their software compatible across different platforms rather than the company controlling the OS.

      I’m also assuming you mean that you want to run different Google applications/programs on OS X/iOS rather than run Android on an iPhone.

      I’M GOING TO STOP GEEKING OUT NOW, BYE.

      • No, don’t stop! Let’s conversate! Okay, so, yes, my preference would be to have google docs and other elements of gmail run on my iPad, and also iPhone- but I would rather not use the Android OS, as I am used to the Mac OS and have heard mixed things concerning Android.

        • I’m not familiar with Google Docs, but taking a quick glance at it, I get the impression that it’s a web-based app… So yeah, I think it’s pretty much up to Google to make it function with iOS through either an app or through the web-based version. Though… I’m unsure whether iOS allows for saving documents that aren’t in an app or whatever, so it’s more likely that Google would have to develop a Google Docs app.

          As for Gmail, I believe you can scroll to the bottom and click on a link that says “Desktop” to view it as if you were to view it on your computer. 🙂

          I too have heard mixed things about Android. To be honest, I have close to zero experience with it and the times I’ve used my friends’ Droids I was sorta confused (and this is coming from a Comp Sci major lolz). It’s not as straight-forward as iOS, which is one aspect I really like about it.

          • Google stuff works fine on my iPod Touch, if that’s any indication to anybody.

            *is a Google fangirl and finds Apple silly
            *wants an Android SO BAD
            *has a Nokia N96 which is USELESS ARGH

      • Give it a few weeks, and I’m sure someone will figure out how to run Android on the iPad 2 rather than iOS. That is, unless it’s been done already. The issue I’ve read with Android running on tablet devices is that it’s made with only being a phone OS in mind; because of that, it tends to be buggy, not as intuitive and doesn’t translate well into a larger form factor. In a way, it’s sorta why the Galaxy Tab or Xoom haven’t picked up yet. IDK though since I don’t have any experience with any tablet that runs Android.

        • unofficially you can run android on iOS it just requires jailbreaking which 95% of people aren’t willing to do.

          the new wave of android tablet devices run honeycomb, which is android optimized exclusively for tablets. the xoom runs honeycomb, as will a whole slew of new devices like the galaxy tab 10.1 and galaxy tab 8.9.

          • Random question, but does the Galaxy Tab take sim cards too? Mega Tablet Phone Awesomeness WOO

  4. If my understanding is correct, improving the screen for the iPad would be way too costly given the size of the screen. When I say improving, I mean increasing the resolution/PPI. Also, the lower PPI in comparison to an iPhone is acceptable considering you’re more likely to hold an iPad further from your face than an iPhone.

      • Oh yeah, most definitely! I remember when people were still speculating about the iPad’s cost, most people’s guesses tended to be $900+. And the iPad is indeed gorgeous.

        If it’s even possible (since this time last year it was not), a 300 PPI 9.7″ screen would be exponentially more expensive and harder to produce than the current screen. Actually, after just doing some quick checking, all screens with a 300+ PPI are under 4″ in size, so yeah… lol, doesn’t even exist then. Also from my understanding, one of the reasons the Android tablets use 7″ displays is due to costs as well – so basically it’s not quite practical to ask Apple for a better display for the iPad *quite* yet. 🙂 (SORRY FOR PRETTY MUCH TALKING TO MYSELF HERE)

  5. I went to get my mothers laptop from the Apple store on the day the iPad 2 was being released, because it was in being fixed, and it took me an hour to get it even though it had been fixed since the night before. WTF. All I wanted was to get the laptop and look at laptop bags so the cute salesgirl would talk to me about the merits of reinforced canvas.
    The new iPad looks cool, even though I kind of have an irrational hate for it since that experience. Don’t brand new Apple products always have a ton of bugs though? Kind of like how any brand new Sims 3 game is unplayable till they come out with a patch?

  6. I love apple, but I never really wanted an iPad until I saw the smart covers. You didn’t even talk about that! It’s a cover and a stand all in one! I just wished it came in some non pastel-y colors.

  7. I fucking love the fact that Apple’s taking the path which is basically marketing the iPad as not really a computer, but something you could use as if you were using a computer.

    I love using Garageband on the iPad. It’s actually useable on the iPad. It’s not, “Let’s just transfer the UI from the Mac version to the iPad.” They’ve thought about how one would go about using Garageband on an iPad. And it definitely beats carrying around my 4kg MacBook Pro around when I can just bring my iPad.

  8. I have a really sweet lesbian maternal aunt (yes it runs in my genes), who actually offered to give me one, but I declined. I totally love the way it looks but my life pretty much runs off my laptop. My laptop is the server of my life: music, movies, books, news, email and of course..autostraddle. I know I would never be satisfied with anything that can’t do it all……

  9. Taylor – I feel like I really just need to read all of your archived articles here because I seriously just learned a lot about iStuff. I’m pretty much not an iPerson at all. I don’t iExist. I don’t have an iBook, iPad or even an iPod (I KNOW OKAY?). It’s not that I’m anti-Apple or anything though. I don’t know – maybe I’m an iLate bloomer or something.

  10. Really enjoyed reading this article. I feel the same way about my iPad. It occupies a strange place in my day to day routine, I’m not really sure where it completely fits in. It does feel better, removing the mouse and distance between yourself and using your finger to navigate really somehow seems more intuitive now. When I have to go back to using the old way i.e. mouse and keyboard it all feels wrong. Still, it does not replace my laptop. I can’t really do two things at once, look at two pages at the same time or two apps at the same time. It has become a bizarre piece of kit that I sometimes use with my laptop. I mindmap on my iPad whilst reading a pdf on my laptop or I make lists or change my calendar. There are somethings that the iPad does infinitely better than the laptop. But then there are still things, I just can’t do on it and I find myself getting out my clunky laptop. Still like you I’m not sure what its role is but I know that its role is important and I don’t want to be without it.

  11. I’m late commenting, but I use my iPad for almost everything. I’d been saving up for a new laptop and went iPad instead. I’ve got my work laptop and leave it at work most nights. I had to stay and work from home today and was even able to work from it (I manage 20 web developers, so was running irc, editing code, IM, email, meeting outlines). At home I use it for everything except ripping DVDs. 🙂

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