What is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?

What is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?

The iPad is a tablet computer produced by the marketing geniuses over at Apple. Unlike other tablet computers, the iPad was envisioned as the perfect tablet for people who work in jobs that involve audio and visual media — this is the tablet computer for people who already have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, and a subscription to Wired magazine. The iPad is meant for optimal display of books and magazines, media like movies and music, and a better slice of the web than is currently available in other Apple handheld products. Apple released the first iPads in April 2010 and went on to sell over 3 millions iPads in 80 days. It turns out that businessmen and other professionals like the iPad as much as the media geeks it was designed for.

What does the iPad look like?

What is an iPad?

The iPad weighs about 25 ounces, somewhere between a fancy smartphone and a laptop computer. Like Apple’s other big products, the iPhone and the iPod Touch, the iPad has a multitouch display. Most tablet computers before the iPad used the venerable stylus, which designers saw as more of a headache than it was worth. The iPad connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi or a 3G mobile data connection, and allows users to check out the web, load and stream music and videos, and run all kinds of software. Your iPad is easy to manage and “sync” with your computer — you do it the same way you sync an iPod, by connecting to iTunes with a USB cable.

The back of the iPad is a cool silver color, like a dull chrome, and features the omnipresent Apple logo. The front of the iPad is mostly screen, with a few buttons — “Home”, “Sleep”, “Lock Screen Rotation”, and “Volume”. Lots of accessories are available, from cases to larger keyboard ports, with the idea being that people could integrate the iPad into the technology they already own.

How does the iPad work?

It would be fair to say that the iPad shot for the moon when it decided to produce the iPad. The technical challenges Apple overcame in producing the iPad would be worthless if people couldn’t see a need for what is essentially a larger and more powerful iPhone, sans phone capabilities. Think of the operating system the iPad uses — Apple practically invented an entirely new OS, called iOS 3.2.2. The challenge here was in creating an operating system with functionality somewhere between a Macbook and an iPhone. Core applications were rewritten from the ground up, and Apple was charged with the task of reinventing the way their computers operate.

The buzz over the iPad was genuine — just like with the iPod, Apple fans were itching to get their hands on the new tablet device. And just like the iPod, Apple’s creation isn’t exactly a new idea. Apple hoped to turn the tablet computer market (healthy but not exactly robust) into something that people went nuts for. You could envision hip brightly-colored commercials featuring businessmen typing on their iPads to the soothing sounds of Michael McDonald.

Do iPads run iPhone apps?

All this is to say that Apple’s iPad works very much along the lines of other tablet computers, with some unique Apple twists. For starters, Apple’s library of nearly 200,000 iPhone apps was like having a built-in software library. They very wisely made that app library available to iPad users. All iPads run iPhone apps at their original size, meaning the smaller size of the iPhone screen, or in something called “pixel doubled mode” which makes the app twice the size of the original iPhone size. Apps run in pixel doubled mode very nearly fill an iPad’s screen, making them more user friendly. The other good news for app freaks — app developers have a way to build their app to take advantage of the iPad’s features, including screen size. One way the iPad works — imitating what works about the iPhone.

How does the Internet work on an iPad?

Apple has gone out of its way to let it be known that the “i” in the name “iPad” stands for “Internet”. One of the big draws to the iPad is its web surfing abilities — the Internet experience on an iPhone is not really ideal. The iPad’s larger screen alone should vastly increase the Internet experience. Though Apple’s marketing department also insists that using an iPad is like “holding the entire Internet in your hand”, it is still unclear what they meant by “entire Internet”. The iPad is not able to run Java or Flash applications, so its Internet powers are fairly crippled.

What the iPad can do: connect via Wi-Fi networks, use something called Skyhook Wireless to provide your location for help with apps like Google Maps, run A-GPS for GPS functions, and use a special insert on the back of the machine to improve 3G radio sensitivity, for better connections than with other wireless devices. If you want to go wired Internet, you’re slightly less in luck. Yes, iPad has a dock connector but it is devoid of either Ethernet or USB ports. Let’s just say wireless is what the iPad does best.

Can I read eBooks on an iPad?

Apple went out of their way to include eBook reading capability, advertising the iPad with images of people reading magazines, newspapers, and books and seemingly enjoying it. The eBook software on the iPad looks like a bookshelf or your personal library — if you want to buy more eBooks, simply flip the bookshelf over with your finger (more fun that it sounds) and you have an online book store at your disposal. Check out the New York Times bestseller list or browse by title and author.

How’s the iPad keyboard?

Of major concern to tablet or handheld device users — the keyboard input. The iPad uses an on screen keyboard that is much larger than their other most famous touch keyboard, the iPhone.

Setup your iPad in landscape mode and the keyboard is pretty much the same size as a laptop keyboard. There’s been few complaints of sensitivity issues. Most people’s problem with the keyboard interface is the lack of intuitive features. Many iPad users have had to build their own macros or voice input systems for certain keyboard functions. But for a touch keyboard, the iPad gets great reviews.

The iPad sold lots of units in a short time, just like the iPhone and the various incarnations of the iPod. Time will tell if the iPad format is successful or just a fad.

See also:

  1. How to Buy a Refurbished iPad
  2. What Is a Sony Portable Reader?
  3. What Is an Aztak EZ Reader?
  4. What Is Barnes and Noble’s Nook?
  5. What Is an iRex Digital Reader?
  6. Kindle Pricing
  7. Kindle Deals and Discounts

12 thoughts on “What is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?

  1. Pat Fox

    Not basic enough for me. For example, to what extent will I have to sign up with a verizon, AT&T, etc. and pay amonthly fee to enjoy the iPads features?

  2. Ask Deb

    Pat Fox–thanks for your question.

    First of all, you don’t need to be connected to a data plan (the “monthly fee” you mention in your question) to enjoy some of the iPad’s features. You can play around with it “unconnected” to your heart’s content, but without downloading apps or having some kind of access to the Internet, your iPad is little more than a very expensive and shiny paperweight.

    Having said that, iPad owners have free access to Wi-Fi where it is available. That means if you find a Wi-Fi hotspot (think Starbucks, McDonald’s, etc) you can use your iPad on that connection for free.

    There are a few different apps available to help you find Wi-Fi spots, so if you do find a free space you can use your iPad in, download one of these apps and you should be able to find plenty of places to use your iPad for free.

    The short answer to your question is–you don’t HAVE to sign up for a data plan with AT&T to enjoy the iPad, but you DO have to sign up for a data plan if you want to use the iPad’s 3G wireless function and not just the free Wi-Fi.

    I hope we helped you out.

  3. Blome

    The iPad rocks! Whoever Blockus is, you should go die. Though the apps need to get cheaper and better quality.

  4. maury

    The most important cost question is not really addressed in detail.
    Is an ISP required? Who are recommended? What are normal costs?
    What other hidden normal operating and user costs are necessary for an IPAD owner?

  5. Bev

    I am so confused! Is the iPad a telephone…. so I do not have to have a cell phone anymore? Or if I do need a cellphone then can the ipad be plugged into the cellphone to get the internet through the internet feature on the cellphone.

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