Book Review: My New iPad – A User's Guide

December 13, 2010

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Dennis Wurster @ 1:21 pm

Cover of My New iPad bookWith most of life, I tend to follow the “keep it simple” strategy. Invest in high-quality goods when possible, but always be looking for ways to reduce the amount of stuff in your house.

Lately, Apple has been on the same Thoreau-esque mission to simplify items down to their very essence. They’ve removed as much as they can from their boxes — including the manual.

So what you’re left with is a shiny new product in your hands, and you attempt to figure out as much of it as you can by exploration. You don’t really know what you’re doing, because you are only interacting with the device at a superficial level. For single-purpose devices like a vegetable peeler, that’s just fine. For things like Apple’s iPad though, you’re limiting yourself to what you feel comfortable investigating.

That’s where Wang’s “My New iPad” comes in.

Wang leads you through all the features of Apple’s stable of applications on the iPad, from the user-centered approach of someone who wants to get something done, rather than the all-too-typical feature-centered approach of a developer praising his own work. Wang’s structure is more like a recipe than a description. He starts off with a statement like “Setting the Date and Time”, then focuses on “What You’ll Be Using” where he lists what apps you’ll need to find, and finally leads you through a numbered series of steps to accomplish the task. Wang’s tone is very matter-of-fact, and perhaps not as friendly as David Pogue’s “Missing Manual” titles. Considering that the iPad is a relatively new product, this book has come out at just the right time, because we’re all newbies at this point.

The 368-page book is a straightforward introduction to the capabilities of the iPad, from soup to nuts. I was able to skim through the topics that I was comfortable with, and look more closely at topics I hadn’t investigated before, like editing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, and using the Maps app to view Google Street View photographs for a given address. More than once I was surprised to find additional detail on the general concepts I thought I had mastered.

The trouble with tech books in general is that they are not unlike fresh produce– the moment they are picked, they begin to wither. While this book is a fantastic reference, it doesn’t cover recent enhancements to Apple’s free iBooks app that allow you to open PDF files that you email to yourself, for example. It is also limited to iOS 3.2, so it won’t cover iOS 4, due out this fall. There is a website for the book at No Starch Press’s website, but it didn’t have updates listed as of this writing.

In summary, I found this book to be a handy reference and a straightforward guide to everything I needed to know about my new iPad.

My New iPad: a user’s guide, copyright June 2010 from No Starch Press. This title is available in a printed version or an electronic version in the PDF, Mobi, and ePub format. The cover price of the printed version is $24.95, but you can get it for much less (and support your user group) by following this CIDER amazon referral link. The electronic editions are available directly from No Starch Press for $12.95.