Suckfari for iFad

What? There’s no Flash on this thing? I kid. I knew that my iPad 2 was not going to have Flash. Actually, it is not that big of a deal. The lack of Flash on the iPad 2 has been the rallying cry of the Phandroid camp. A lot of people think if you don’t have Flash, you just see a big, gaping hole where Flash content should be. Not true in the case of the iPad. In most cases, web sites have bent over backwards to accommodate iPad users with h.264 video and JavaScript to bedazzle things up. After all, there are hundreds of millions of iOS users, with eyeballs to view advertisements. If they don’t offer the video on their site, many entities, like Adult Swim or Comedy Central, offer an app that can deliver the content. I’m assuming they do this to protect their content from downloading. Indeed, if a site offers h.264 video, you can download it on a computer, posing as an iPad (it is very easy to spoof your user-agent).

That said, I do think Steve Jobs went about it the wrong way. I think his position on Flash wasn’t just about it not being ready for prime time. If that was the case, he could have told Adobe they would support it when they got it right. I now, finally, see Flash working just fine on the newest of Android devices. It took a few years, but it seems to work as well as it does on a computer. If it can run smoothly on Android, it can run even better on iOS, which doesn’t have the latency of a java virtual machine. (iOS apps are faster and more efficient — compiled code (objective c) vs. interpreted code (java)) I think Adobe could have had a working Flash player on iOS even sooner than Android. I think that’s what the users would want too.

I suspect it has to do with all those Flash websites that offer movies and TV shows. Indeed, with the iBooks scandal, I now see Steve in a different light. I don’t think he had the customers’ best interests in mind. He saw the success of the iPhone and decided to lock people in to Apple’s content. No, you are not totally locked in, there are a few competitors. As I mentioned, you can get most of the web on iOS. You cannot, however, buy or rent a movie from Amazon and watch it on your iOS device. I am a bit surprised Amazon has not developed an iOS app to do this, but who knows? They could put forth all the effort, and Apple could reject it. Maybe they already have.

Flash is a plugin, which means the user has a choice whether they want it installed or not. Indeed, not only does Safari for iOS not have Flash, it has no plugin architecture whatsoever. There are actually a few cloud based browsers, for sale in the App Store, that can show Flash content by proxy. But this is not a true, native, Flash experience. Indeed, iOS is devoid of a pure Adobe Flash experience. That’s not all it is missing…

The big pet peeve for me, with Safari on iOS, is that you cannot upload files using the html file upload form field element. iOS does not have a user accessible file system. All of your files have to be managed and exposed by apps. If you want to do something with a photo, an app will need to browse the camera roll. I am a bit surprised, at the very least, they do not allow the file upload form element to upload from the camera roll. Most uploading needs are something as simple as uploading a photo onto eBay, Facebook, or even WordPress. That’s why I am using WordPress on my Mac right now. It just sucked on my iPad, and the app was not that great. It looks and works like the iPad email app.

RIAs done with JavaScript and the Document Object Model (DOM) of the browser also seem to be a bit flaky in Safari for iOS. For example, I gave up on editing my blog on the iPad, because the toolbar was flaky. It sort of worked, but the moving banner could block it from view. It can be done, but Safari from iOS is one of the pickiest and most incompatible browsers out there. Remember the first iPhone commercial where Apple said this is the full web you’re getting? Not even. I can see why people call these iToys. Everything is watered down!

I have even seen this on the Apple support forums. If you go to the Apple support community on your iPad, you cannot use the advanced toolbar. You cannot upload a photo for your avatar. They also use some jazzed up div instead of a text area (I think, too lazy to view source), so you don’t see misspelled words underlined, whether you use an iPad or a Mac. The irony is that iSheep (yeah, I said it, because they exist) will use this to discredit anyone who criticizes Apple. The irony is that people misspell because Apple is not good at developing websites. When I misspell words here on WordPress, they are underlined.

I just mentioned viewing the html source of a web page. It can actually be done on Safari for iOS, but it is a kludge. Basically, you bookmark a JavaScript library that outputs the html source. Again, this thing is a toy. Computer based browsers have been able to view source for some time, without kludges. This is a great way for newbie and even experienced web developers to see how a site was developed.

Wait… it gets worse! After the new iPad was released, I visited the Apple site with my iPad 2. I clicked on the iPad video, and I get a video with a line through it. It does not play. Weird, because I am able to play video from other sites. I am not the only one with this problem. Apparently, some people have had to re-install iOS to get it to work. Reinstall? Reboot? This isn’t the Apple I fell in love with. This isn’t the Apple that I gladly handed over $5000 to in the past 3 years…

I just tried it, and it works for me now. I think it is an issue with their website, because I had no problem playing h.264 video on other websites. Indeed, I have had this issue come and go in the past. I don’t think it is the cache, as I have not cleared it, but it works now. I have a 64GB iPad 2, with plenty of empty storage space. The point is, Apple is not great with all things Internet. Their websites are slow and poorly designed, such that they don’t work well with the iPad. Indeed, the cobbler’s children wear no shoes.

iCloud is extremely slow and so is iTunes. It can take two hours to download an hour-long show, even with a fast internet connection. You can see the slowness is on their side. They may be victims of their own success, but with all that cash, you think they could afford to scale up their data center. If you wish to make iTunes you main conduit for content, after cutting the cord, think again… Or at least think ahead. If a show takes hours to download, impulsive video watching is not possible. Don’t expect to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad when it drops. You have to plan ahead. You have to download the videos ahead of time, perhaps overnight. Just hope the download doesn’t fail and you have to “tap to retry download”.

Apple’s lack of internet prowess is such a deeper topic, I feel it is grounds for a new post. In fact, it can fuel a few new posts. I plan on writing about how Safari on the Mac is the worst web browser I have used (next to Safari on iOS), as well as the ridiculously latent back-end they call iCloud and iTunes. I have a nice screenshot from my iPad showing a 10 hour estimate for a basic backup of my iPad. I had to try about 8 times before it “just worked”. No wonder it popped up a message saying my iPad hadn’t been backed up in 4 weeks. Why? Because it just sucks!

UPDATE:
Safari for iOS now allows uploading from the html file form element. This was one of my biggest gripes about Safari for iOS. Now that files can be uploaded, the iPad is a much more productive device. Indeed, I have seen iPads at work in the real world. When I check in my car for service, they use an iPad. While waiting for my car’s oil change, an automotive equipment dealer was using his iPad to prepare for a meeting with the dealership’s service manager. When I go to a concert, my ticket is scanned with an iPod Touch.

Since writing this article, there have been numerous improvements to iOS. Apple’s mobile operating system has taken the corporate world by storm. I still can’t really develop code on the device. However, most people can do their work on an iPad. You can see this in the market — PC sales are slumping, while the iPad is on fire. Tech pundits jumped the gun and created the myth of the “Post PC world” a few years before it happened. It still hasn’t happened. That said, the iPad is a real workhorse device. As the hardware and software improve, it will replace desktop and notebook computers. Rumors abound that Apple is developing a big screen iPad for professional use. I don’t doubt it. Apple is after the high-end of the market, but the products are still accessible to the average person. The iPad was the biggest selling item at Wal-Mart and Target this black Friday.

I wrote this article over a year ago, and so much has changed. I use my iPad for so many things. I can now manage this site with my iPad.

Apple went through a phase, around late 2011 to mid 2012, where their products lacked quality. iOS 5 was probably the worst release of iOS ever. The accompanying updates for Apple TV were buggy. That’s when I started this site. Things have changed. While not perfect, Apple’s product quality has improved. Apple strives for brand loyalty, and for now, they have mine. If I were to buy another smartphone, tablet or computer tomorrow, it would be from Apple. Who knows what will change a year from now, or even six months from now. If you are looking to buy a tech product, the best advice I can give is buy what’s good now. Don’t believe promises that some bleeding-edge underdog product is going to be the next big thing. It usually isn’t…



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