How Will The iPad Work? What Can’t It Do?
Apple's iPad tablet computer will be available in March starting at $499, but it already has sparked a range of questions about how it will work. The touch-screen multimedia device uses the same operating system as Apple's popular iPhone and can access the 140,000 apps available to the iPhone and iPod Touch. USA TODAY reporter Jefferson Graham offers some answers:
Q: I need a data plan to get 3G wireless service on the iPad, but don't I already have one from AT&T for my iPhone?
A: You'll need an additional one. Prices are $14.99 for 250 MB of service (good for just e-mail) or $29.99 for unlimited access.
The good news: You're not under a contract and can cancel at any time. Additionally, because the device works with Wi-Fi, you don't necessarily have to spring for 3G.
Q: There's no USB or SD slot. How do I get my photos, video and music files into the iPad?
A: Through iTunes and your PC or Mac computer. Think of the iPad as a giant iPhone or iPod (which of course, it is). Apple hasn't changed the transfer system. You need to connect the iPad to your computer and sync the video, music and photos through iTunes.
But here's a potential time-saver: Apple will release a 30-pin adapter - think of the wide end of the cable that syncs your iPod to your computer - to connect digital cameras and the iPad. Apple says it will work only with digital cameras, but can a hack for all sorts of media really be far behind?
Q: I already have my photos and videos stored online. Can't I access them in the same way I do on the iPhone?
A: Photos on sites such as Facebook, Shutterfly and Phanfare will be easy to pull up - and even quicker if you go through one of their apps - but videos stored there won't play because they're in the Flash format, which the iPad doesn't support.
Q: The iPad is billed as the ultimate multimedia device, but I can't play most Web video or animation? What's up with that?
A: The iPhone and iPod Touch leave big white holes when you try to access video and animation on popular websites such as Hulu, Vimeo, Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon, which are displayed in Flash video.
Apple says it supports HTML5, a new Web video standard, and not Flash, without giving any reason.
Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey says that with all of the criticism about the strain on AT&T's 3G network, Apple is better off not offering Flash support.
"It would kill the network," he says. "People would be watching all day. Maybe two years from now, they could handle the traffic, but not now."
There is a work-around for watching Web video: Use an app. YouTube, Break.com, CNN.com, MSNBC.com and many other big video sites have apps that let you watch video.
Q: The new iBooks app that will sell new releases of e-books sounds great. Since the store is in iTunes, can I buy the books and read them on my iPhone or iPod Touch?
A: No. Apple says the application for reading the books is only on the iPad.
Q: Can I listen to online music from Pandora on the iPad and compose an e-mail at the same time?
A: Nope. There's no multitasking, just as there isn't on the iPhone or Touch.
That has been one of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone and a selling point for competing devices such as those using Google's Android system and Palm's webOS, which both have multitasking.