Homeless in Vancouver: I'm not the snow type and neither is the iPad
There’s been a threat of snow in Vancouver’s weather forecast for a few days.
This is in contrast to my friend’s iPad—no matter how much she wants it to snow on her iPad, it’s forecast to stay clear and bright through the holidays and beyond.
It’s a WordPress.com thing. You know…the free Internet blogging dew-hickey?
My friend couldn’t really think of much to do with her WordPress blog after a friend created it for her. Then she heard about the festive feature to make it snow on a her blog until January 4th.
She turned on the “Snow” option in her WordPress General Settings, but waited in vain for the expected flurries—not a single snowflake. Even her friend with a 7-inch, “door-crasher special”, generic Android tablet could see snow on their WordPress blog. And I could see it on my Windows 8 waffle iron, if I cared to—it was only her new iPod Air that couldn’t. She wasn’t happy about that. It didn’t help any when she found out we could all see the snow falling on her blog.
WordPress.com explains the feature is “disabled on mobile devices because it’ll drain the battery too much”. So to WordPress, all iOS devices look like iPhones.
What else doesn’t the iPad Air do?
The iPad’s camera has no Panorama mode, so iPad users miss out on one of the iOS 7′s neat hidden features.
Set a panorama photo as your wallpaper and when you move side-to-side the panorama scrolls side-to-side with you.
Unlike the iPhone, the iPad Aid doesn’t have a distinct Compass app. There is a compass feature built into the Maps app, but iPad users can’t toy with the digital level feature iOS 7 hides in the Compass app.
An iPad user can fill in these missing pieces via the App Store. There are free apps to add digital levels, panorama capability, and, naturally, snow.
The iron hand in the velvet interface
If there’s been a consistent harangue against iOS devices, it’s Apple’s “walled garden” approach to rigidly controlling the user experience. Apple knows there are hundreds of millions of people who want the benevolent dictatorship the iOS offers. The ones who don’t—like me—can complain and bang on the outside of the locked gates all we want.
When I’m playing with a iPad or an iPhone, I get a particular feeling of claustrophobia that I never get on a Mac, or a Windows PC or any flavour of Linux. My friend Henry is experiencing something similar with his first try at Ubuntu Linux. As a long-time Windows user he can’t adjust to the limitations of installing Linux software—accepting what’s in the Ubuntu Software Centre, or learning about “dot-deb” packages and compiling from source.
Apple’s iOS looks, to me at least, like a kind of digital dystopia. In Star Wars-speak it’s the seductive Dark Side, where Ubuntu, with its aspirations of mass appeal, could end up—happily maybe.