Adventures with the Apple iPad 2

I attended CAST 2011 in Lynnwood, WA from Aug 8-11, 2011, and vowed (much like I did after STPCon 2010) to try and do more writing on testing topics.  I do have several posts I will be making about CAST 2011, but my experience last night with a highly regarded consumer device about drove me NUTS, and inspired me to relate my experience.  In a nutshell: I do not recommend trying to set up your new iPad through the iTunes interface…something is not quite right there.

I’ve long desired an iPad, as my wife has a first generation one she uses extensively.  After lugging my huge notebook all over CAST 2011, and watching in envy as many bloggers were using their iPads to stay in touch, I decided I really needed one (plus I needed one for testing purposes anyway, since my job deals with consumer-facing web sites).  The wife endorsed the idea and mandated I acquire one asap (Epic Win!).  I ended up with the 64GB wifi only model, in black.  I probably could have done with a smaller size, maybe the 32GB, but was concerned with the amount of “baggage” I might want to carry around, so opted for the max size so I’d have room to expand (story of my life, Ha!).

Once I got the iPad home and cleared my time so I could get it set up, the real fun began.  I have a Windows 7 desktop with iTunes installed for my iPod (in fact I just installed iTunes 2 weeks ago for the first time on this machine, and successfully used it to set up my iPod for vacation), so figured I was ready to go, since I know the first thing I have to do is sync and register the iPad with iTunes.  I hooked everything up, and voila!, iTunes prompts me to begin the iPad setup process (so far, so good).

At this point, everything I am doing is on/in iTunes on my desktop; the iPad is off to the side and connected via the sync cable. ITunes prompts me to register, which seems to involve creating an Apple Id (account), and since I don’t have an existing account (never bought music from iTunes), I have to create a new one.  Of course, this involves jumping through the personal information interrogation and password/security question hoops to set up the account.  At the end, I get a nice message saying I was successful, and now I need to create an iTunes account and connect a payment type.  I walk through these steps and select PayPal as my payment method, linking and creating a billing agreement.  At the end of all the steps, I return to the iTunes store to begin buying apps.  The first app I try to buy?  Angry Birds, of course.  After I select Angry Birds, iTunes prompts me to log in to purchase, but my login does not work.  Huh?  I just set it up, I could not have forgotten the password already…  So, I try again.  And again, and then start trying variations of the password I thought I set up.  No luck.  Ok, I will try the reset.  First I choose to do the recovery by answering my security question, where it first prompts me for my birthday.  It tells me my birthday does not match the one on file!  Say wha?  Ok, time to try the email recovery method.  30 minutes later, no email.  What’s going on here?

It appears that I didn’t create an account, somehow.  No errors, but nothing is working.  So can I create another account with the same info?  Why yes, yes I can.  Can I create an iTunes account and link my PayPal again?  Yes, yes I can.  Does it work?  Nope.  Hrm.  I go through these steps 2 more times (for a total of 4 times –creating an Apple Id and iTunes account– using various different account details).  I never see an error, confirmation email or anything other than the success messages displayed in the course of the creation of the accounts.

Now I’m curious if Apple has an FAQ or if this is a known issue.  Before I can find an answer, a link on the Apple website for creating an Apple Id distracts me (tricks me into clicking it!).  I go through the account creation process yet again.  This time it appears to work, and I get a confirmation email.  YAY!  So, I return to iTunes, and try to buy Angry Birds again.  Once again time to link my account to iTunes, but this time my Apple Id works.  Too bad the linkage doesn’t.  I still do not have success creating the iTunes account.

Now I am frustrated (ok, mega-frustrated.  actual frustration occurred several attempts ago).  So, I pick up the iPad, and try to go through the process that way.  Success!  Unfortunately, I can n0t link to PayPal though through the iPad.  However, I now own Angry Birds!  YAY!

Once again iTunes seems to prove its insane suckage on Windows.  I really have no idea if this would have worked on a Mac, but I suspect it would have (Jobsian conspiracy? Poor Windows testing?).  I do not understand how this bad of an experience could exist for the end user.  I also suspect that had I used the iPad to go through the Apple Id creation it would have worked (my Mother-in-Law was able to go through these steps without the difficulties I experienced – she used the iPad to create her Apple Id).

Now, approximately 2 hours after beginning the process I am finally ready to start using the iPad.  For such a simple device, this should not have taken this long.  My next few days with it will be slightly colored by the setup experience.  I was going to say that I would have a negative bias towards iTunes, but I realized as I was typing that it merely confirmed my bias, I “expected” it to be difficult or persnickety based on past experiences.

I’ve been having fun with it over the past several hours, but there are still some interface issues to get used to.  Putting it to sleep vs. turning it off and closing running programs are 2 issues I’ve already encountered.  Overall, things work pretty well.  PDFs and comics look good, ebooks are easy to read, and pictures are crisp and easy to manage.  Don’t ask me about the iTunes “interface” for putting books into the various e-readers though…Just. Don’t. Go.There.

 

I initially titled this post an experience report, but decided I better do a reality check on exactly what constituted an experience report, and found that my idea was lacking (based on the resources I found).  If anyone has a sort of guideline/template or other materials related to experience reports (and subsequent presentation of them to peer conferences), I’d love to have some links.

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