When the iPad was made available for sale in US stores on April 3rd I took the opportunity to visit an Apple store in Naples, FL and test out the device. After waiting in line for about 45 minutes I was led into the store by an Apple usher and promptly found myself with an iPad in my hands. It felt great to hold, despite the many comments about its weight. I quickly navigated to the Google maps application as I was most interested in replicating the experience Steve Jobs demonstrated when he searched for sushi in San Francisco and viewed the Eiffel Tower from above during the unveiling of the device back in January.
Alas, the network connection in the Apple store seemed spotty and the device was having a hard time identifying the store’s location. As an alternative I decided to pull up the road trip itineraries I created in Google maps based on National Geographic Traveler’s Drives of a Lifetime. I was amazed at how well the maps rendered on the iPad, and delighted to see the driving directions appear upon touch.
Viewing this makes it pretty obvious that there is great potential for building some amazing road trip applications on the iPad. In a rather remarkable coincidence, I had been following the journey of a couple (Lindsay and Jesse) that were using our RoadTweets iPhone application to share trip updates on their road trip from Denton, TX to San Francisco, CA. I had noticed they sent an update from an Apple Store in Albuquerque, NM where they tweeted that they had purchased an iPad to test out for the remainder of their trip. I reached out to them to get their first hand experience with the iPad and here’s what they had to say:
We love the iPad. It’s been very useful on the trip. Jesse found out that the google maps app stores all the map and latest markers on the screen in cache, which meant we had maps for offline viewing while driving and sightseeing where we didn’t get cell service or the iPhone gps didn’t work. Plus, at wifi stops we could both look at the map together and both point and make markers. It’s a great travel tool. We also played shredder chess, UNO, and scrabble. I was fond of the NY Times Crossword app. In San Francisco, the San Francisco exploration guide app has been an amazing tool too.
It appears that both Jesse and Lindsay have found a great deal of value in their initial use of the iPad on their road trip, not only for trip planning but also for entertainment. And the fact that maps are cached for viewing outside of data service coverage is an added benefit for navigation.
What do you think of the iPad as a travel device?
Thanks to Lindsay and Jesse for allowing me to post their feedback on the iPad. I will be publishing a post about their amazing pre-wedding journey at a later date, meanwhile you can follow their trip live on Twitter @LindsayJesse.