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My New iPad

Publisher: No Starch Press

Surely the iPad was one of the more gifted items over this recent holiday season. The buzz has built for over a year now on the device, and most owners have been consistently surprised and delighted. Without a copy of Wallace Wang's new book, My New iPad, accompanying your iPad gift, we're pretty sure that your recipient won't get as much as she'd like out of the device. Apple is notorious for shipping beautiful devices that come with almost zero documentation. It's not a bad thing considering the trend now is that anything requiring users to read more than one page of documentation must be poorly designed... Whether you agree with that or not, and regardless of how accomplished you feel as a user of Apple products, My New iPad will help you navigate some of the more obscure aspects of the device.

The first thing we appreciated was the fact that My New iPad reflects the most current OS update available for iPad, which brought several significant changes to the interface and the controls. Wang starts the new user off with literally the most basic thing: Turning on and off the iPad (Chapter One). Within the first five chapters, he's provided readers with a good feel for the physical hardware. One thing we noticed even at this early point in the book was that Wang sprinkles in tips for more advanced users in what would definitely qualify as newbie territory. This does a couple of things. First, it makes the average newbie much less of a newbie more quickly, but it also obscures some of the book's better advice for experienced users. A theme throughout My New iPad is the need for a page at the end of each chapter summarizing pro-tips or concepts more slanted toward a power-user. The for-instance is changing screen orientation and brightness. For 80% of the users out there, Apple has made the bid that these things can be set on auto, then kept out of sight and mind. We think this is a solid bet, but people who want/need the extra control can find it tucked away in a fairly obscure menu that Wang helps us find early in the book. Veteran users may want this info, but they'll also be the most likely candidates to skip ahead in Wang's book and miss it.

The thick middle portion of the book is dedicated to cataloging native applications for things like browsing websites, checking mail, viewing photos, and finding new applications. Most of this will not be new for anyone who previously owned an Apple mobile device, but there are times when applications on iPad have a unique twist that Wang highlights. His extended treatment of iTunes University is particularly helpful, and goes to show there is more to this application than most people use. Tips on browsing websites with iPad will help users that may have never used the Safari browser, and Wang helps get users set up quickly on email, calendar, and syncing contacts. Sure, the iPad is pretty user-friendly within these applications, but there are still tips and tricks that even seasoned users will find helpful, and that may be less obvious. Some of the application briefings feel like a stretch, such as the section on YouTube and "Viewing a Map." Others like updating system software and searching content on your device will be useful. There's a section on transferring MS Office documents, but it's a shame that Wang doesn't feature more web-native apps for iPad like MobileMe, Box.net, and Evernote, that play more to the strengths of the device.

If you really did just unwrap a new iPad and haven't used many Apple products, My New iPad will be a helpful guide. Because Apple will feel some real pressure in the tablet market over the next year, we can expect that lots of the material in the book will be out of date soon. That shouldn't prevent you from picking this up, especially since it covers all the most recent changes and feature updates included in iOS 4. Well written, if a bit dry, My New iPad draws in a lot of screenshot pics to give readers a feel for each step of instruction as Wang offers his own nickel tour of Apple's shiny new toy.



-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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