I’ve written about Apple’s new iPad here and here, and I thought I’d do a few tests of my iPhone. If the iPad is merely the iPod Touch writ large, with more screen space and a thinner body, then the iPhone ought to do some of the tricks that I expect an iPad to do. So I put it through a few tests: reading and editing my school’s wiki, using Wikispaces.com, running this blog, and using Google Docs accounts, two things I want to be able to do on the iPad.
And as much as I hate to say it, the iPhone 3G failed all but one of these tasks — running this blog, which it doesn’t do particularly well.
The wiki server my school uses is the standard server that comes with an Apple server. I hate AppleWiki with an indifferent passion, because it’s not MediaWiki that runs Wikipedia; and the blogging software is wiki-like rather than WordPress or LiveJournal-like. Both pieces of software are kind of slow and clunky to begin with, on any computer.
To have them not work with the iPhone Safari program, though, isn’t really acceptable. If the goal is interoperability, and the objective is cloud computing, then the iPad has to work with cloud computing applications, like wikis and blogs. Currently, it doesn’t. I can read the pages fine — score one out of two. Except that editing a wiki is more than 80% of the fun — so Fail.
Wikispaces.com wasn’t much better (I’m ABWatt there, but I don’t do much on it other than help monitor and administer http://cais21stcentury.wikispaces.com — which is the wiki website of the statewide professional development commission I’m on. And no, I can’t edit this website either. iPhone OS Safari is not built to handle wiki websites, apparently.
I can run this blog using a WordPress client application, so that’s OK, I guess. The functionality is not great; it’s certainly not as powerful as doing it from a browser running on my laptop.
Finally, Google Docs. I have found (and in one case bought) a client application for Google Docs for the iPhone. These clients allow me to read Google Docs items that I have permission to read or ownership of, but I don’t seem to have the ability to modify files. Moreover, my powers to “read” documentation is still limited — spreadsheets and presentations are both off limits to both programs. Maybe I just have the wrong program.
It still feels like the iPad’s usefulness and functionality are seriously compromised, though. If I can’t use it for editing my wikis, if I have only limited control over my blog, and if I can’t access Google Docs (either standard GD or the specialty site my school is setting up), then maybe the machine’s functionality is pretty well compromised as a learning device for my purposes and intentions in class.
It’s not to say that it’s not a useful tool or that I don’t still want one as a reading device. But I’m less enamored of it as a teaching and learning tool in the classroom, unless I have some demonstrated improvements to the ability to work with wikis, blogs and Google Docs.