I decided to try out the iPad today at my local Apple store. I discovered that it is not that friendly for folks whose eyes don’t match up to twenty-something UI designers, and there seem to be some glitches elsewhere as well.
As someone who is not usually happy with font sizes, I will say that I am quite pleased with the font sizes in iPad menus. When I went to the preferences, it let me select a font size for e-mail, but not for Safari. And when I chose to zoom, it gave me instructions on how to use it: tap three fingers to zoom, move three fingers to scroll, tap three fingers to un-zoom. Okay, I can understand three fingers to zoom or un-zoom, but I want to scroll with a single finger. I tried three-finger scrolling and found it mildly uncomfortable. I left the zoom feature on, but left the screen in an un-zoomed state.
(At this point, a helpful Apple store employee came over and asked if I had any questions. I asked a few, which were answered to my satisfaction for completeness, if not what I had hoped for.)
Okay, I know to use the home button, the only actual button on the iPad, to go back to the home page, although an explicit home arrow on the screen would have been welcome.
I tried Safari, and immediately discovered the need for an ability to set font size. I found the website fonts too small for me to read more than a few words comfortably. So I did the finger-spread gesture to enlarge the font. Well, the page I was on had a paragraph that went all the way across the page. So now I’m having to scroll left-right-left-right to read the paragraph. No fun, and easy to lose my place. Fail; I would expect Safari to re-wrap the text.
This paragraph is just supposition on my part and does not represent a review: I’ll bet there’s no way to put in a user style sheet to take care of this, either, and even if I could, I suspect what Safari takes as the screen width does not vary as I zoom the page.
Back to the review. So I went to Safari’s help menu and saw iPad Guide as one of the choices and picked it.
First, it put me into general iPad help. I would have expected to go into Safari help. But Safari help was readily visible and I chose that. Then I chose a sub-topic. The font was too small for me to read more than a few words comfortably. So I tried the finger-spread bit. Fail. No change in font size. Then I tried the three-finger tap. Zoom! But the paragraph didn’t rewrap so I was back to having to scroll left-right-left-right to read the paragraph. No fun.
Now for the glitch. I wanted to go back to Safari. So I un-zoomed and touched the back button, then looked for a back button to go back to Safari. None. Nada. Grump. If I was in Safari, and asked for Help, then I would expect to be able to back myself to Safari.
Okay, so I touch the home button, then the Safari icon. Instead of returning to Safari, it went back to iPad help. I touch the home button, then the Safari icon, back to iPad help. Once more, same result.
At that point all the Apple folks were talking to other customers. I decided that iPad isn’t yet there for me and gave up. I imagine that the getting stuck in Help is easily solved, but the font issue is going to bug me. I have a lot more control on a real computer.
Sorry, Apple. We don’t all have 20-something eyes.