May 04 2010

iPad Snag

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One hiccup I’ve encountered with the iPad that hits home for a writer: as of this writing it’s not very import/export friendly for word processing documents. Google Docs, while viewable, are purely read-only, which is a big, big hole. This is apparently due to a problem with Safari, which doesn’t support the “makeEditable” HTML 5 property, something that Google Docs depends on. (So much for open standards, Steve. Want to look into that for us?)

There are some apps that work around this; but it’s pretty clear that Apple intends that for your word processing on the iPad needs, you’ll use Pages. And at $10, Pages is certainly affordable, but it also has its problems — the biggest being getting existing files into it. Like all of the iP* (I pee stars!) apps, or at least, all of the ones I’ve seen so far, it keeps documents in its own little vault. So if you want to open a document, it has to already be in the vault to begin with. To get an existing document into said vault, you have to mail it to yourself as an attachment (in a format that Pages can read, which sadly does not include .WPD, but what does any more), and in the Mail app, tell it to send the document to Pages.

It’s a lot of go-around-your-thumbey kind of nonsense that is really unworthy of what is otherwise such an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. And like I say, I wouldn’t even be doing that much if I could just open up Google Docs and work there.

I’m sure this will be ironed out over time — too many people are going to want to actually be productive on an iPad for it to stay hobbled this way — and if nothing else I expect Google will make a stand-alone Google Docs app. But it is kind of a nuisance out of the gate.

All that said, as an experiment I’m going to do tonight’s writing session in Pages while listening to my tunes via the iPod app, and then export it all back to my main PC when it’s done. This is a dry run for how I expect to work on the road, so I’ll have the kinks ironed out before it becomes time to actually do something.

-The Gneech

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