We’ve been at Anime Boston today (reports will come in the following days) but it’s being held across the road from the Boston Apple Store. There was a queue outside of the Apple store for their new product… the iPad.

After the show I figured I’d go in and try it out. Obviously I’m biased and would never actually buy one. But it’s worth keeping tabs on what kind of gilded cages the fruit company is selling this time.

I’m not fond of Apple, their products are mediocre, their use of FOSS is one sided, their lock in is extreme and in my opinion should be made illegal and their censoring of the critical reporting of news about their products of company. It’s a bastion of arrogance and the kind of Machiavellian “we know what’s best for you” attitude that I utterly despise.

So it was quite hard keeping an honest judgement of their new product. It’s nice I guess, the hardware is certainly nice enough, very thin very light. Their software reminded me of Ubuntu (or is it Ubuntu that reminds me of Apple products these days), but has glaring flaws which go beyond simply not being FOSS.

The zoom makes everything pixelated, not even the icons are vector based so they look awful. This I guess is to get iphone sized apps to work at all on the bigger screen, but seriously it’s time to move to SVG for your icons and to re-render text to suite the size. Or at least at a little bit of anti-aliasing to your scale up.

The apps were limited, even the demos with a ton of stuff installed. It all seemed very mediocre. There was stuff for reading, stuff for watching, stuff for listening. Nothing for making of course, the new generation should be contented with simply consuming “what is best for them to see”TM and not bother with making things. Ironic considering that Apple’s main line of computer is misconceived as an artists/designers platform by many ignorant people.

Apparently the CPU in these Pad devices is proprietary, not an intel, not an Arm, some custom Apple thing. So it’s unlikely to ever run any Linux variant. Which is a deep backtrack for freedom of hardware platforms.

So how does this change what we do in Ubuntu? Well I don’t think it changes what we do very much. We may need to have some new UI considerations if we want Ubuntu pre-installed on tablets of competing manufacturers. But that’s Canonical’s job and the community isn’t really involved in that process since there are very few solid products the community can get hold of to try and experiment with new ideas and advice for new users.

I’m sure we’ll have something to offer eventually though, but I think the FOSS community is going to be playing catchup so long as the IBM-a-like hardware manufacturers are behind the curve in delivering workable alternatives to the iPad that are popular with FOSS users.

What are your thoughts?