A Testament to UI Efficiency, Distinctively Apple

I've always called the iPhone OS a very efficient UI. The ease at which you can perform primary tasks on the iPhone is what I mean by that. By comparison, many earlier tablet and handheld computer concepts used full blown desktop OSes scaled down so much that you could hardly get anything done. UI elements were far too small to be navigated with portable screens. On the flip side, if you scaled the iPhone UI to a 22" desktop PC you'd also lose efficiency, the UI simply wasn't designed for that purpose. You use the right tool for the job and that's exactly what the iPhone OS, webOS and Android try to do. They are great smartphone interfaces.

The success of the iPad's UI is really determined by how well it scales up to the larger screen size and resolution of the display. Simply running iPhone apps on the iPad doesn't cut it, something that is made obvious by how little I wanted to use them on my iPad.


An iPhone app running on the iPad

Thankfully, with the exception of running iPhone apps, Apple has ensured at that all elements of the iPad UI are enhanced specifically for the larger screen. The most obvious is the larger keyboard but there's also liberal use of columns in apps. You'll also note that there's very little forced consistency between the look and feel of iPad applications. Their UI is determined entirely by their function.

The popup dialog is also widely used throughout the iPad OS:

Thanks to the A4 SoC inside, multitouch gestures react even faster and smoother than they do on the iPhone. Particularly the pinch and stretch gestures for zooming in and out. Apple also introduced a new pinch/stretch to zoom feature in its Photos app. To expand or collapse any album or event simply take two fingers and stretch them apart or pinch them together. It seemed gimmicky when I first heard about it but in practice it works really well and I'd like to see it used in more places.

While not really significant to the plot, there are some nice touches that Apple has included with the iPad that are worth mentioning. The home screen is, er, home to a lot of the more prevalent examples of Apple flair. All the icons have a nice drop shadow behind them.

Bringing up the home screen from another app causes all the icons to fly in from the outside as if they're all scurrying home before you get there. Rotating the home screen also results in a sweet zoom out then in effect.

Despite having the screen real estate Apple doesn't get wasteful with UI elements. They are all fairly tiny and not intrusive.

Scroll bars in the few applications that have them are far less boring. In the Calendar and Photo apps the horizontal scroll bar is a date and photo scrubber. In Pages the vertical scroll bar gives you a magnifying glass preview of each page as you scroll by it.

iPhone users will feel right at home as there is a consistency between these devices. Tap the home button once and it takes you home. Tap it again and you can search. Tap it twice while you're playing music and playback controls appear. Also, when you're playing music the cover art for the song or album temporarily becomes your home screen background.

Although there's no mute button, holding the volume down rocker for 2 seconds mutes the device instantly.

There are dozens of little features like these that show an attention to detail that is missing from most products. Rushed or not, the iPad still has the little things that do make it an Apple product.

It Was Meant For You Stop and Smell the Roses Computing
POST A COMMENT

108 Comments

View All Comments

  • fflow - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    It's a tempting device in many ways, but useless to me unless I can use it to stream videos from my home server. Are there any DLNA apps for the iPhone/iPad OS that work well? Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    "I've always called the iPhone OS a very efficient UI. The ease at which you can perform primary tasks on the iPhone is what I mean by that. "

    Yep, copy & paste in particular... :)))
    Reply
  • Adul - Sunday, April 11, 2010 - link

    Tempting as it may be, I think I will wait to see what a few other devices coming down the pipe will offer. It could be an interesting year. Reply
  • MrJustin5 - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyEhWeAseSo

    Anand, once again, a great extensive review.

    But honestly, a 30-year-old Techie who is neither a Mickey$oft Fan or an Apple Fan, could not care less about this simplified and over-priced laptop-wanna-be.

    It is not "magical" as Steve Jobs said a number of times durring his Keynote speech about this gimmicky tablet, which is basically a giant iTouch.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyEhWeAseSo

    Please do not do so many reviews of Apple products. It is NOT top priority, they are NOT life-changing or meaningful products. They are TOYS with a few functional abilities. Like a Corvette is a toy... its fast, it looks good, its expensive, but its also functional to haul a few groceries home and transport you long distances. But in th end, its an expensive toy and so is this iPad.
    Reply
  • tikblang - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    I bought a $2 white HP keyboard from Fry's 3 years ago, (that was the last time I visit an electronic retailer). Can I just buy a $3 female-2-female USB gender changer and use it to connect a reg KeyBoard ? What about a $10 trip-lite USB to PS2 dongle to connect a PS2-KB/Mouse?

    I do not like new gadget (lose faith in technology) but got one (and LIKE it) from a Symantec seminar.
    Reply
  • AlfieJr - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    i do get it. AnandTech is a geek site, and this iPad2 review is written by geeks for geeks, evaluating the product by geek criteria. ok. there is some meaty tech stuff in it.

    but you don't get it, apparently. the iPad is a consumer product. which the review never acknowledges. instead we get lots of a very self-centered discussion about its suitability for one user - you, the geek.

    but it's not designed for people like you. it's designed for dummies like me. it's not a PC replacement or wannabe (tho perhaps the Android tabs are). it's like comparing a car to a small plane. yes some people can drive/fly both, and they are both travel machines. but one is designed for dummies to operate and enjoy, and the other is for pilots with skills.

    you need to step outside your own frame once in a while. because the big question the iPad begs for analysis is - is this really the dawn of a new "computing" era, the so-called post PC era? which this review never touched.
    Reply
  • richard mensah - Monday, May 23, 2011 - link

    i love this Reply
  • omkarphatak - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - link

    I see no reason why one should shell out mor than $800 for this contraption..

    http://www.buzzle.com/articles/which-is-better-ipa...
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now