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The iPad is not London tube-ready

I was on the tube today and I thought I’d take the opportunity to try out the iPad. Whilst the device performed admirably, I’m afraid it doesn’t quite cut it on the London Underground.

Unfortunately it’s just too new, too amazing, too eye-catching. I took it out and immediately folk were glued to it. People stopped their conversations to stare. I did my best to try and use it as nonchalantly as I could, but it got too much on a crowded carriage.

When the crowd lightened off I took this video:

That’s me pulling out the iPad, using it for a moment then chickening out. Quite apart from the utter amazement and ‘oh, is that the iPad’ comments, it is not at all private. Not when someone is sitting *right* next to you. They don’t even have to work hard to stare. It’s right there in front of them.

So if you’re watching a movie — as I tried to do — they can watch too. In fact half the carriage can watch, without the sound. It’s a heck of a lot more personal when you’re simply watching your iPhone. But with the iPad, it’s a super experience. So everyone else simply cannot help watching along.

I don’t like that.

Also, they can read your email. I tried using the email client until I got annoyed with the chap staring at the device and reading sequentially through the subject headers of the email. He was so drawn to the device that he didn’t notice me glaring at him out of the corner of my eye.

I think it’s fine to keep in your bag and use at meetings (again, with the inevitable ‘ohmigod’ crowd-round-and-look comments) but not on the tube. Not right now. Not until everyone’s got ’em. And not unless you can get a decent seat. It’d be fine on the train in First Class. But again, if your morning commute involves being packed into a carriage with 100 other people, the iPad is going to seem really unwieldy and rather annoying compared to the iPhone.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

14 replies on “The iPad is not London tube-ready”

There's no way I'd whip the iPad out on the tube, frankly. Aside from the fact that I'd feel like a total show-off, it'd also make you a mugging magnet. You're a brave man or a devoted attention-seeker, Ewan, and either way you deserve credit 🙂

So, cooling off a bit, are we? 😉

It's a cool device, but it's just not what most people seem to think it is (you included, Ewan). What's good a “personal” device which cannot be kept personal out and about. And when you're in the privacy of your home (or similar) you're likely to have access to something more useful overall.

I ranted about that just the other day on my blog, but I won't plug it here – not very much attention seeking, me. 😉

But seriously, I'd love to hear more of your real world, post initial excitement experiences. Tablets do have a future (are the future?). It's just I don't think iPad is it.

Vlad, it just wasn't a fun experience on the tube. I thought I might be able to immerse myself in it — like I do with the iPhone (seriously useful if you're commuting) — but it's just too big and too public for crowded public transport. At least, for the moment. If everyone gets one, then that'd go a long way to making it a bit more of a pleasant experience.

I sort of see your point. Still, I am worried that it cannot really be made a private experience. Even if everybody had one, and used it, it still offers everything in plain view. True, everyone would be in the same boat, but I'm not sure it makes it better. Even using my e-book reader on the train I tend to use the cover to try and block the person next to me reading off my screen – even when I'm not immersed into (Anti) Justine. 😉

Has anyone announced a privacy filter for iPad? You'd need one if you read any sort of sensitive stuff (and here I mean really sensitive business stuff). Provided your company allowed you to do it while travelling – which mine doesn't.

A privacy filter would be a good idea — I seem to remember an Apple executive explaining that the screen is brilliant because you can see it from a few different angles. I don't necessarily think that's a good thing in public. But then, if the majority of use cases require the device to be used at home/office, so be it.

Hmm, yes… Use cases…

I agree if most are in home/office then there's not problem with privacy. In which case I'd hope (for iPad's sake) these use cases also don't call for a lot of actual interaction with the device, e.g. typing. It's a show-stopper for me as I type a lot on all my gadgets (and in general).

Having said that, I don't think I'm quite the intended audience for the iPad. Maybe that's why I get a little bit upset when it's billed to be an all-rounder (not necessarily by your good self). It's just not, and I think it's use case set (or at least target audience) is much narrower than generally reported (or implied).

I can, of course, be very wrong. It wouldn't even be the first time. 😉

Are you going to get one? I think a lot of people are staring at the videos and wonderful prose being written about the iPad and not quite believing the 'you have to try it out to really experience it' viewpoint. Setting aside the fact that I need to take a look at it to understand the technical and market implications, I would buy one anyway because I want to own it. It's such a joy to use. It most certainly won't replace my desktop and when I'm on location, I'll need to use my MacPro laptops for video editing, but the iPad is a gorgeous addition to my computing facilities.

Honestly, I don't know, but I don't think so, at least the current iteration.

See, I actually want a thing like that, but I can't really justify an *additional* gadget. I'd love it (or something like it) to actually replace at least one device I am using now – and it doesn't. yet. Things it's lacking: keyboard suitable for a lot of text entry, a proper USB port (or two). Thing it has too much of: visibility in public. 😉

I'm waiting for the next generatiom… wherever it comes from. 🙂

Its just the same as using any other tablet or indeed a laptop…I know people who have sat on the tube with tablets for years… This is nothing new people! Some people are just nosy, its defiantly not the fact a tablet is new or eye catching… They have been around for 7 years! Tablets are massively handy for doing a bit of work on the go, if the work was massively private then maybe not… Otherwise who cares who is looking, they will soon be bored if they see your writing an email. Also if you have a film on who cares if they watch it…

No, it doesn't feel like an slot-in device (by which I mean you slot usage into different gaps in your day), but then I don't think Apple really intended it to be – after all, you've got an iPhone for that. Have you found yourself turning your laptop/netbook on less since getting it?

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