Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

brief iPad reading update

As I have explained elsewhere, the iPad has become a major teaching tool for me. But as a reading device . . . not so much. I have not had as much of a problem with the backlit screen as I thought I would: it doesn't seem to tire my eyes, and it's nice not to have to worry about surrounding lighting. But here are my chief issues:
1) The reflectivity of the screen means that reading anywhere there is a strong source of light is difficult if not impossible.
2) Especially near the edges of the screen, it can be very difficult to get the device to respond properly when you want to highlight a passage.
3) The recent 4.0 update of iOS means that you can sort-of multitask — more specifically, it's very easy to reveal your open apps at the bottom of the screen to see if you have Mail, tweets, and the like. For me, that's quite a temptation. Yes, I can check those things on the Kindle, but only after I (a) turn on the wireless, which I usually keep turned off to save the battery, (b) go to the home page, (c) click on the "Experimental" link in the menu, (d) click "launch web browser," and (e) choose the site I want to visit from my bookmarks. Very unwieldy, and not worth the trouble. So on the Kindle I tend to keep reading.
4) When I'm reading, the inevitable fingerprint smudges on the iPad screen drive me nuts. And of course, every time I annotate a page I make more smudges.
So I will rarely, if ever, use this iPad for serious reading. Everyone praises the Instapaper app for iPad, and for good reason — it'e beautifully designed — but I don't even use that much. Instead, I have my Instapaper items sent to my Kindle.

1 comments:

  • So Alan, glad you are at least trying. To respond...

    1) I rarely find myself in a reflective-prohibitive spot, even sitting by the window in my house overlooking the backyard while I read. Where are you that reflectiveness is such an issue?

    2) Passage highlighting get a B on the Kindle app since sometimes it highlight a little extra but I've learned to work around it. I also think it's silly for publishers to limit the number of highlights due to copyright. iBooks seems better and cleaner at highlighting but no web interface to review your notes.

    3) Multitasking is a good thing in a device as it increases its usefulness as long as it does the functions well. The iPad performs its various functions very well, IMHO. Disciplining oneself to not use other apps is the same as discipling oneself to read at all. The advent of the laptop encroached on my physical book reading unless I disciplined myself otherwise.

    4) The fingerprints never are a bother to me. At first I wiped it clean all the time, now I hardly see them. I see through them and they disappear.

    I've continued to use the iPad for serious reading. I'm thrilled to read from Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Google Books all on a single device. Apps like ReadItLater make it easy to catch up with web research as well. This versatile device has significantly changed my reading life as well as my family's.

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