The Apple iPad 2: what’s it good for?

This post originally appeared here:

The latest commercial from Apple depicts several different people using the new Apple iPad 2 for hobbies they love, whether that’s coaching kid’s basketball, watching movies or creating digital art. Unfortunately, for Apple at least, the ad made me realize that I didn’t need to spend $500 on a gadget that would help me waste more time.

Did other people see it this way, I wondered?

I looked up how Steve originally touted the product. At the original release of the iPad 2 back in March of 2011, Steve Jobs talked about how the iPad was the tool of 2011; that it would be seen everywhere. Video highlighted kids in Chicago using the iPad2 in schools and the iPad 2 “chang[ing] how doctors practice medicine.”

So, I’m wrong? The iPad 2 is here to boost education and help save lives?

Well, it’s not set up this way, so no, probably not.

The standard features include Photo Booth and iMovie, but make no mention of any word processing tools that might be of use in school, or databasing software that could be used in hospitals.

So, I’m right? The iPad 2 is for wasting time?

The majority of Mac fans appear to answer “yes”. On the Macrumor forum, where Mac lovers gather to discuss all thing Mac related, the question was posed, “What do you use the iPad for?” Out of 24 responses to the question, 17 responded that they used it for hobbies rather than work, and 2 others said they used it as a calendar/ list keeper.

$500 is a hefty price tag for something that could be replaced by a spiral notebook.

According to the ad, the iPad 2 is for our passions, for driving us “to get up early and stay up late”, for “getting lost in the things we love” like making skateboarding movies or watching dinosaur documentaries.

Do I want to get up early to indulge my passions on an iPad? Given that one of my passions is sleeping, $500 seems to be a hefty price tag for something that will keep me up at night and doesn’t appear to be much of a tool for my job.

What are your thoughts? Could the iPad be replaced by the iPhone or perhaps even a spiral notebook or is the iPad worth every cent? I’d love to hear your rationale.

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Views: 1517

Comment by Bill Schultz on November 30, 2011 at 1:08pm

Hi Skill- I use it for work.  There's about 267 productivity apps last I checked.  

There's always going to be less functionality on a tablet.  But I was able to conduct business for 2 weeks from the east coast on it.  And were it not for a calendar error (my fault) no one would've known I was gone.  

And... you don't even have to take it out  of your back pack for security....

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 30, 2011 at 1:24pm

I work from my ipad early mornings and late at night.  What that means is instead of firing up the labtop i keep by my bed i can grab the ipad check mail, confirm interviews for the next day, search linkedin while i am piled up in bed watching the news.  Using dropbox any resume i look at on the ipad i can access from any other computer that i use.


I take mine with me when i travel.  Yes  you can do the same things with a smart phone but i prefer a bigger work space than the little screen on my smart phone.  Mine is a work tool don't use it for games or movies or playing on the net other than to catch the twitter feed along with the news .  Not sure how i lived without it before i got one.

Comment by Charlie Allenson on December 1, 2011 at 10:45am

My iPad has pretty much replaced my Macbook laptop. With a $15 app call Documents to Go you have a virtual MS Office suite at your fingertips. It imports Word, Excel and PowerPoint docs and you can work on them just as if they were in MS Office. Have the option of saving back to MS formats or a PDF and you can send them on their way. When I travel, instead of a backpack filled with books, I download half a dozen to keep my literary self occupied in downtime. There's a free app call Media Console Overdrive which allows you to digital take books out of your public library system, read them, then delete and  return them. Like anything else, the iPad is what you make of it. I make plenty.

Comment by Gregg Armitage on December 1, 2011 at 11:04am

Mail, Evernote, Dropbox, Pages, Numbers, Teambox, Keynote, Yammer, GoDocs etc.  These are the apps I use the most and they are all for work.  Additionally I manage a software startup in the recruiting space designed to better solidify relationships with employers and external recruiters and to make hiring easier for everyone and It was very important that we make the web application usable for the iPad. Why? Maybe a little for today but more so for anticipation of the wave hyper mobility.  We already have clients that are using our technology on their work issued iPads.  Steve Jobs had the gift of foresight and we are just at the beginning of the vision.  

Comment by Christopher Perez on December 1, 2011 at 11:21am

Personally I love mine and use it every day. I haven't pulled my Mac laptop out of its sleeve in months. I read the WSJ on it every morning during my workout (helps pass the time on the elliptical). I've also read and replied to urgent emails from it during my workout. I do most of my work from my desktop iMac, but I have all of my work synced from that to my iPhone and iPad so that my contacts and calendar are always up to date no matter which device I use to get to them (I also use Dropbox for central access to key files and as a secondary backup strategy). During my lunch break I leave it open in the kitchen to browse news, check Facebook or LinkedIn, or keep an eye on email.


My ATS runs great on the iPad ( as does the LinkedIn app and a couple of specialty apps that facilitate LinkedIn searches. I don't do a lot of composing on the iPad but I bought a small Targus messenger-style bag (netbook size which is perfect for the iPad) and it holds a small Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard if I need to pound out anything but a brief message. Like some above, I have gone on working vacations with only my iPad and it has served me well. Just moved some key deals ahead over the Thanksgiving break as a matter of fact, using my iPad and the lobby wifi of a hotel in Aruba (sorry, had to throw that in). In the evening when I'm watching TV in my office I keep the iPad nearby so I can check email w/o clawing my way out of my easy chair to get to my desk.


I'm doing this from a gen 1 iPad w/3G. I also use it even more for leisure pursuits but your post seemed more interested in business uses so I've kept my experiences limited to that realm. Like Charlie said, it's what you make of it and no one can or should talk you into getting one if you don't see the value (or at least the potential) going in. Hopefully some of these responses have helped you, and even here we have only scratched the surface of this device's most basic features. There are hundreds if not thousands of specialty business apps that have been developed. My wife just ran an educational seminar at an international medical conference and relied heavily on iPads for registrations, e-commerce, slide development and review, and of course communication.

Comment by Tyler Warren Cant on December 1, 2011 at 11:57am

I have to agree with this article 100%. When the iPad first came out I knew right away that it was just an iPod Touch with a larger screen and nothing more. My first thoughts about the iPad was that it is a tool that I did not need have lived without and can live without it. When I travel I like to travel light and if I need to check emails or view documents especially resumes my handy 4.3 inch Android phone does the trick very nicely. If I need to type a lot I much prefer a keyboard and frankly typing on the iPad is not much better than typing on my Android phone. As a matter of fact when I type on my Android phone it guesses the word that I'm typing after the first couple of characters (does a great job of guessing) which speeds things up a lot. Bottom line is if I need to take a business tool that requires serious work then it's laptop all the way. If I only need to do check emails, review documents then it's the phone all the way. As far as having fun this is where my phone really shines. Watching videos, movies, playing games and listening to music on my phone really rocks. So for me I would rather spend the $500.00 on a top of the line smart phone than an iPad.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on December 1, 2011 at 12:05pm

That's not true. With apps, like Pages (love it btw) paired with ones like LinkedIn for iPad, I have been able to work from home or at the coffee shop on my iPad. Is it as powerful as a laptop or desktop? Of course not but if you need a portable work station to use while you are on the run or away from the office, it can definitely do the job.

Comment by Craig Silverman on December 1, 2011 at 12:32pm

We love our iPads. At work we use them in many ways as a teleprompter in our video recording room, for Facetime and Skype video calls, for candidates to take satisfaction surveys on in the lobby before they leave our offices, and to take on client visits to present our demo deck (created in Keynote).

Comment by FREYJA P. on December 1, 2011 at 2:55pm

Thank you thank you thank you all who wrote about your work apps for the IPad2! I need an additional "tool" and have been trying to decide whether to update my laptop that links to my IMac or ....and couldn't find anyone who knew enough about using an IPad for the kind of work we do. I get fed up with working on the screen of my phone. Wonderful!

Comment by Charlie Allenson on December 1, 2011 at 3:13pm

Hi Freyja. One little accessory I highly recommend is the very tiny real external keyboard. It weighs just a few ounces, it's full QWERTY, no wider than the iPad and syncs via BlueTooth. So if you have a whole lot of writing to do, this makes everything a real snap.


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