Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s iPad | iLounge Article


Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s iPad

Apple’s Special Event is over. The dust is settling. And a bunch of things we didn’t know about the iPad have started to become clear. We’ve assembled them all into this new article, the Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s iPad. There are actually more than ten things in the list—a couple are sandwiched in there—so read on for all the details!

10. GPS. “Where did the iPhone’s GPS go,” you might ask after hearing no reference to GPS during the launch event, “and wouldn’t it be handy?” Semi-good news here: the iPad still has GPS—at least, the more expensive version with 3G does. It’s cell tower-assisted GPS like the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and can help with Maps and other apps, including turn-by-turn navigation applications. Note that GPS on the iPhone 3G/3GS is a real battery killer, so it’ll be interesting to see how it does on the iPad.

9. Storing Files. As demonstrated in Apple’s new iWork applications, the iPad lets you create and store documents in a more conspicuous way than any past iPod or iPhone, but where are the files hidden? Apple has created a less geeky version of the iPod Disk Mode for iPad, displaying a dropbox folder on your computer - like a flash drive - so you can share the iPad’s contents with your PC or Mac and vice-versa. This will also likely be the place where photos go when they’ve been transferred to the iPad with the iPad Camera Connection Kit. It remains to be seen whether files in this folder will be synchronized automatically to iTunes with the rest of the iPad’s contents.


8. Different Bodies For 3G + Wi-Fi iPads. If you haven’t seen Apple’s iPad gallery page yet, you might have missed the presence of a big black plastic antenna stripe and SIM card compartment on the top back of the 3G iPad. It runs through the top and is part of the unit’s front bezel, as well. Apple hasn’t revealed the top or bottom of this model yet; it was not being shown on the floor at the launch event.

7. Micro SIM and 3G Service. For whatever reason—likely to either prepare carriers for a similar switchover with the iPhone 4G or a smaller future model—Apple’s SIM card tray for the iPad uses a new Micro SIM card, also known as 3FF SIM, that isn’t yet widely supported by carriers. It’s physically smaller than prior SIMs and, surprise, easier to lose if you remove it. Because of this change, you can’t just pop in any old 3G SIM card and expect the iPad to access a foreign country’s cellular network no matter where you are; carriers will have to choose to support it. It will take a little while, maybe longer, to see which carriers are willing to jump through this particular hoop to support the device.

6. Verizon. Whatever’s going on with Apple and Verizon right now is going to be worthy of a book some day. The iPad not only is launching without Verizon involvement—no exclusive for AT&T, but no second carrier announced—but Apple appears (underscore appears) to have left out CDMA hardware support in the 3G version altogether. We’ll know for sure in late April (or May) when the iPad 3G arrives; Apple hinted broadly that other carriers and deals may be forthcoming.

5. Multitasking and iPhone OS 4.0 Pricing. Since Apple really, really wanted to let people know that iPad has a 10-hour battery, there’s a very good chance that Apple is holding off on adding battery sapping multitasking to the iPad and iPhone until it can hit the big “4.0” version of the iPhone OS (as if the massive changes to iPhone OS 3 for the iPad weren’t enough to merit a higher version number than 3.2). The iPad already can play iPod music in the background as you do other things, but not run videos and browse the web, or have multiple web pages on screen at the same time. Clearly the questions of pop-up windows, multiple app windows at once, and the absence of iPhone OS stock and other widgets are all conspicuous ones right now. Will Apple fix these issues in iPhone OS 4.0? Will it charge for iPhone OS 4.0 on the iPad?


4. Missing Handwriting Recognition. Highly surprising during the iPad launch was the lack of any reference to using a pen interface with the iPad for taking notes, drawing, or other input. While this won’t matter to some people, the absence of handwriting recognition software on an OS level means that you won’t be able to scribble notes in the margins of your iBooks, jot down thoughts without a keyboard, or see hand drawn lines converted into vectors for simple sketching and flowcharting. Third-party apps (hopefully iPhone OS 4.0) may fill the gap partially, but until Apple adds support to the OS—and truly good styluses appear—there are problems.


3. Microphone and Speaker Oddities. Quite possibly the weirdest design elements on the iPad are a top-mounted microphone hole and a bottom-mounted set of three metal mesh speaker grilles, both totally unlike other Apple products in design. While it makes a little sense to move the microphone as far away from the speaker as possible, the little hole is unlike Apple’s mics on MacBooks and iPhones, most similar to the one on the fifth-generation iPod nano. Three speaker grilles for one speaker? Our guess is that the mesh was too easy to damage in a larger single opening, and Apple didn’t have another place to radiate the sound through.


2. Dock and Screen Changes. Another interesting little surprise is that Apple conceived screen-related changes depending on the device that’s plugged in: connect a keyboard and the virtual one disappears, providing more reading and typing space; connect a video dock or cable and the iPad can display separate or the same content on an external display. There’s serious potential power in this—imagine using the iPad as a controller for a game or app on a separate television or monitor. It can happen.


1. Component Out, Gone? (Updated: No, but still weird!) The iPad (finally!) supports playback of the 720p videos sold through iTunes as “HD” TV shows and movies. Yet Apple surprised a lot of people, us included, by removing all references to iPad support for the component video output cables used by iPods and iPhones—the ones that might be able to take advantage of this higher resolution video. Instead, Apple shows the iPad as compatible with the same lower-grade composite video out cables, and the iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter, which permits 1024x768 video output on a projector or monitor—audio through the iPad’s speaker or headphone ports only. Will there be a new component cable for the iPad? Is Apple trying to differentiate the iPad from, say, Apple TV by not allowing it to output 720p videos? Or is some agreement with movie/TV studios regarding copy protection/HDCP to blame? It’s hard to say at this point.

Updated: Apple has changed the iPad specs page to include support for both the Component AV Cable and Composite AV Cable. Thanks, Dyvim!

Much, much more on the Apple iPad appears in our First Look article, complete with a full 12-minute interface walkthrough video in 720p resolution.

« iPad Announcement: Accessory and App Developer Reactions

Editorial: Apple’s Tablet - Likely Transformative, Beyond The Sum Of Its Parts »

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I think Apple would have to announce the Verizon iPad and iPhone at the same time and when they are ready to ship.  I believe an iPad announcement on Verizon yesterday would have hurt iPhone sales.

Posted by Marc Fogel in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 1:59 PM (CST)


Re: #1 the Apple tech specs page initially mentioned 576p/480p output via composite cable (which doesn’t make sense when you think about it), but has corrected it to say “component”.  Of course it seems odd that component video caps out at 480p when of course they are capable of 720p and 1080i.  But Apple has gone on record now with official support for the component video cables, just not with 720p support.

Posted by Dyvim in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 2:03 PM (CST)


Could a MicroSIM-to-SIM adapter be made, so standard SIMs could be used? It could have a flexible connector, and the slot for the standard SIM could be stock to the front bezel at the top of the iPad. Ugly, perhaps, but it would allows local SIMs to be used world-wide.

Posted by Itchy Pajamas in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 2:16 PM (CST)


I, too, was disappointed by the lack of handwriting recognition!  Ever since having a Newton (yes, I am over 65), I have been waiting for the return of handwriting recognition!  This would have been a real “buy now!” for me; but now, I will wait. 

I’m also hoping for Java support.  I’ve been building a Java site for a long time, which would really benefit from the larger screen.  But evidently, it’s not here now either.

Posted by alinde Omalley in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 2:32 PM (CST)


What about Microsoft Exchange Active Sync support for the iPAD mail application? Any ideas?

Posted by Thomas in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM (CST)


I thought something was fishy when I read your update about video cables, and it turns out my suspicions were correct. You got it exactly backwards. It’s the COMPONENT cable that can handle 480p/576p. COMPOSITE can do 480i/576i.

Posted by Muero in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 3:31 PM (CST)


I’m assuming that 3G service is completely optional on the iPad with 3G model.  I’m not sure if I would need another data plan in addition to my iPhone data plan, but the option would be nice.  For that, I will spend the additional $130.

Posted by Galley in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 3:38 PM (CST)


I think on the iphone 3G and 3gS the GPS is really more than just cell tower GPS, no?  I think it actually HAS a GPS chip in there, and if they use the same chip it should have it in the ipad as well, no?

Posted by tivoboy in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 3:39 PM (CST)


Still no flash support?!?  We can only hope that this comes with OS 4.0 in both the 3GS and the iPad.

Posted by misterpeterson in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 4:30 PM (CST)


The speaker output could be three of the same small speaker transducers used in the iPhone.  They keep referring to the “powerful” built-in speaker output.  Back in the day, the “sweet 16” speaker design was to make a tower of sixteen small 3.5 or 5” identical cheap speakers to make a still inexpensive better sounding speaker.

Three of the same transducer would improve the base response and increase to total volume.

Posted by Jim in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 4:37 PM (CST)


that’s cell _assisted_ gps. this means that the known location of the cell tower (and wi-fi hot spots) will merely provide another point for triangulaion purposes. in theory, the non-3G iPad would find its location based solely on triangulation of wi-fi hotspots.

@alinde Omalley: i too was hoping for handwriting recognition. i’ve never seen anything that has worked as well as it did on the late model newtons… “Rosetta Rosetta Rosetta hey that’s me!”
it’s not a deal-breaker for me though, but i was hoping it would’ve been the ‘one more thing…’

Posted by mike in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 4:42 PM (CST)


Apple’s tech specs now say: “576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite Cable” (Initially they used Composite twice.)  So you’ve still got it backwards I think.

Posted by Dyvim in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 4:44 PM (CST)


Fixed, thanks.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 4:54 PM (CST)


does the ipad have a dock for the iphone and ipod


Posted by dave in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2010 at 8:27 PM (CST)


Anyone care to speculate (or otherwise provide info) on the likelihood of being able to tether an iPhone (3G/3GS) to the wifi iPad to share the iPhone’s 3G internet connection with the iPad?

Either via bluetooth, or special cable. Theoretically possible, but curious whether Apple will allow this.

If it IS going to be available, it will see me choose the wifi iPad over the wifi+3G…

Posted by Sam in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 30, 2010 at 12:26 AM (CST)


where is the camera. how easy would it be to have added one above the screen in the bevel. come on now.

Posted by dan in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 31, 2010 at 2:18 AM (CST)


Can the IPad be used as a 2nd monitor for a laptop?

Posted by Kim in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 13, 2010 at 12:44 AM (CST)


how much??

Posted by uzuki1217 in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM (CST)


i have no card in the 3g and the gps works also i am out of range of cell towers gps works

Posted by Verne Brewster in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 9, 2010 at 1:55 AM (CDT)


I am a little late in on this but here in China they take a standard 3G sim, slide it into what looks like a small paper stapler. A quick push down and it’s chops the sim down to fit straight into the iPad holder!

Posted by Pete in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 14, 2010 at 5:20 AM (CDT)

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