Initial thoughts on the iPad 2

SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 02:  An attendee holds t...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I saw this story today and couldn’t resist sharing:

[Apple’s] focus this week has been to troubleshoot all the iPad 2s that customers are returning to the stores. One iPad came back with a post it note on it that said “Wife said no.” It was escalated as something funny, and two of the VPs got wind of it. They sent the guy an iPad 2 with a note on it that said “Apple said yes.”

I’m sure the guy who received his new iPad will find the experience matches mine. I won’t bore you with details: I love it. It’s hard to explain, really, considering I already had the first generation iPad. But the new one is noticeably thinner, not so much by looking at it, but when you hold it in your hand. It just feels…better. It’s lighter, too. Again, not so much that you really feel it; it’s more like you notice that it doesn’t seem quite as heavy after you’ve been holding it awhile.

These are the biggest changes, at least for me. The speed does seem quite improved. The speakers are louder. The camera is nice to have, but I don’t use it that often. (It should be noted that you can look only one of two ways when you hold up something as big as an iPad to take a photo or a video: either like an idiot, or someone who is trying to say, “Look! I’ve got an iPad 2 and it has a CAMERA!” In either case, you kinda look like an idiot.)

And then there’s the cover, with which I have a love/hate relationship. I love it’s form factor. It’s very well designed and does, somehow, keep fingerprints off the screen. I love the way it folds to become a stand that is much sturdier than Apple’s previous case. And I love the self-aligning magnets that magically grab right where they’re supposed to. But I hate that it doesn’t do anything to protect the back of the iPad. I’m sure Apple will tell me not to worry about it, but I do.

Oh, and there’s this other thing… The way the hinges on the cover work, they tend to rub on the back side of the iPad. This has removed the finish from the hinges (which isn’t a big deal), and it’s removed the finish from the back of the iPad (which is a big deal.) True, it doesn’t do anything to affect the usability. Everything still works perfectly. But to see those two little smudges on the back like ugly blemishes of abuse… It’s very frustrating. Especially since I’ve been exceedingly careful not to abuse the thing. Still, it’s a very small thing in the overall scheme. This generation exceeds the original in every way.

Starbucks rolls out new look for the future

I like Starbucks. Honestly, I know that likely puts me into one of two camps and may affect (adversely or otherwise) your opinion of me. But I dig the concept of the third place and I think they are one of the few places that seem to both get it and embrace it.

They have also made good strides in recent years to better understand their customers and improve both their communications and their offerings to meet the needs & wants of those customers. I believe this has much to do with the return of Howard Schultz and is a testament that having a marketer at the helm can be a boost to the overall organization.

So yesterday I got an email from Howard. In it, he thanked me for being a customer and told me that they were making some subtle changes to the Siren that has been a symbol of the company for the past 40 years. He says:

“Our new brand expression reflects our evolving freedom and flexibility to serve and connect with our customers in meaningful ways while continuing to represent the integrity, quality and consistency of the Starbucks Experience.”

Which, I think, is a testament that sometimes a marketer drinks way too much of their own Kool-aid. Or, in this case, coffee.

Still, I think the new look is fresh and certainly seems decidedly more modern than the previous version. It also drops the “Starbucks Coffee” designation, much like Apple dropped “Computer” from their name when it became apparent they were much more than a computer company. Take a look and let me know what you think:

New identity for Starbucks

This image shows the evolution of the Starbucks brand identity throughout the life of the company

Related articles

Our top iPad apps for 2011

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
Image via Wikipedia

In my most recent Indianapolis Business Journal article, I took on the task of helping all of you with new iPads figure out which apps were worth having. The initial list is based on a great deal of painstaking research. (Actually, we just sat around the office discussing it, which we do at least once a week.) I compiled the list in a rough outline of “most-used” and “favorite,” and intentionally avoided some of the business applications (primarily due to space constraints.) In the end, the list contained more than 50 apps, so I feel pretty confident you’ll find something you like in the mix.

See our ~50 top iPad apps for 2011 »

Fixing iPad Wi-Fi Connectivity Issues

There have been some reports lately of people experiencing odd Wi-Fi connection issues with their iPads. These issues included intermittent loss of connection, frequent login requests, and just poor reception.

Like many technical issues that become hard to diagnose, there seemed to be little rhyme or reason to why some were affected and others (including myself) had no troubles at all.

Now Apple has updated their Knowledge Base article to point to a seemingly odd solution for this vexing issue: increase your screen brightness. As reported in a recent TidBITS article:

“Apple has quietly updated a Knowledge Base article about issues that iPads have when connecting to Wi-Fi networks. Initially, the article offered only basic suggestions, like making sure your Wi-Fi router’s firmware was up to date, and using WPA or WPA2 instead of WEP. While I’m sure using current firmware and modern encryption approaches are a good idea, they really weren’t related to most of the problems.

“In the updated article, Apple now suggests that having the screen brightness at its lowest setting could be related, which sounds truly weird. However, commenter Eugen notes that common methods of dimming LEDs could result in oscillations that could interfere with other radiation, such as Wi-Fi signals. And I’ve heard from a reader that raising the screen brightness on his iPad did indeed solve his particular Wi-Fi connection problem.”

They do report that an upcoming software update will address the issue. In the meantime, if you’re experiencing intermittent connection loss with Wi-Fi on your iPad, try adjusting the brightness of your screen. It just might be the (unusual) fix you’re looking for.

Steve Jobs has a "little talk" with AT&T

It’s no secret that I love my iPhone just a little more than my puppy and (slightly) less than my children. But from the very first day I turned it on, I have been dismayed by AT&T’s network. To say that it sucks would probably be giving them too much credit. Anyway, their network woes aren’t a secret to anyone either, and one of their bigwigs recently announced at a conference that they (the other bigwigs at AT&T) were dreaming up ways to coerce dis-incentivize penalize… Good Lord, I can’t think of the right word… Anyway, they’re trying to find ways to make their customers use their network less, instead of trying to just fix the damn thing to begin with.

So, Steve Jobs (well, actually, Fake Steve Jobs) got on the horn and had a little chat with them to attempt to coerce dis-incentivize penalize convince them to follow a different course.

Here’s a recap of what happened.