Things You Can’t Do on an iPad

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You can play Flash content on an iPad using Photon and a few other browsers. These browsers enable Flash content by using the cloud. Basically, another computer in a data center is acting as a proxy between your iPad and the Flash content. The iPad isn’t running Flash. Instead, Flash runs on another computer, and your iPad is just a remote control. There is a lot more latency with this design. You can barely watch a video. Don’t expect to play a complex Flash game on your iPad. It would be nice if they let users decide, but it is too late. Adobe stopped making Flash for all mobile platforms. Steve Jobs was right. Between HTML 5 and apps (like YouTube) that offer the equivalent content, I don’t miss Flash much at all, but this does have some consequences…

iPad can't play Flash

iPad Can’t Play Hulu

If you want to watch Hulu without a subscription, you’ll need to use a computer. Without a Flash plugin, Hulu will not work on an iPad. You can install the Hulu Plus app, however, this requires a subscription. It is possible to watch Hulu using a cloud-based Flash browser, such as Photon. Don’t expect high quality video. If you try to put it on the big screen with AirPlay, it will look even worse. In fact, Hulu’s quality is so poor using cloud-based Flash browsers, I would go so far to say it is unusable. It’s another iPad fail.

iPad can't play Hulu

No Tab Key on iPad

I was making a list on my iPad and wanted to indent certain items using the tab key. To my shock and horror, the iPad has no tab key! I searched on Google to find if there are alternate keyboards offering a tab key. Unfortunately, even with the custom keyboards introduced in iOS 8, none of them offer a tab key.

There are some apps, like Textastic, that offer a tab key on their toolbar. The app costs $7.99, and although it does a lot, it’s also a lot to pay if you just want to insert a tab. You can also press the space bar a few times to fake it, but it’s not the same thing. A tab is represented by an underlying Unicode character. Deleting the tab deletes all of the space it consumes in one go. A tab is a single character, whereas hitting the space button a few times is more than one character.

Textastic One of a Few iPad Apps Offering Tab Key

Coders know that the tab key is essential for indenting code in most programming languages. Integrated development environments (IDEs) allow programmers to define the indent level, but coders use the tab key to produce readable code. This is all the more reason that the iPad is not a professional product.

It’s not just software engineers who are affected by the tab key’s absence. Office workers may get legacy data in tab-delimited format. A lot of corporations have specific formats for documents, including tabs. Some writers also begin paragraphs with a tab. The lack of a tab key on the iPad is limiting. Apple could add it with an iOS update, however, given that the iPad is mostly a content consumption device, it’s clear consumers haven’t asked for this feature. As long as you can compose a Tweet, it’s good enough for iOS.

No Tab Key on iPad

Work Ergonomically

The iPad is extremely convenient. You don’t need to wait for it to boot up. It is light weight and can be taken anywhere. It’s a great tool to grab when inspired, but not very good if you need to use it for several hours.

Most people set their iPad on their lap and stare down at the screen. This will eventually cause fatigue, back and neck pain — one has to look down to see the screen. You can put it on a table or use some sort of stand, but you will still be looking down at the screen, causing neck strain. It is possible to position the iPad at eye level and use a Bluetooth keyboard. Touching the screen to operate the device, however, will be tiring after a while.

They iPad features a glossy screen which isn’t as bright as most desktop monitors. This is a necessity, as the device is battery-powered. The iPad screen is fine for a few hours, but if you’re working on it all day, the glare will cause eye strain. The iMac also garnered criticism over glossy screens. Apple’s take seems to be that these are home computers. People won’t be using them for several hours straight. Colors tend to be more vibrant and “pop” on glossy screens. It’s the magpie effect — glossy looks neat and sells well. Professional users would use a Mac Pro and supply their own monitor. Consumers have other options. One can buy a Mac Mini and a separate monitor. I use a Mac Pro and a large 30″ matte monitor. The difference between working on my Mac and an iPad is staggering.

The iPad is great to work on for a few hours, but you would experience eye strain, aches and pains from working on it all day, every day. Even notebook and laptop computer users will normally use a docking station at work. Every company I have worked at has provided me with a docking station and monitor, along with a laptop. Even though it is called a laptop computer, using it as the name would suggest is ergonomically unsound. (continue…)

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