Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[tech] iPad 3G round one, major Apple and AT&T fail

So my iPad 3G arrived today. This is a result of a very generous gift of a group of friends and colleagues, spearheaded by Marti McKenna and bhagwanx. About which more later, with immense gratitude. None of the following is a complaint about their love and generosity. No, my steely gaze is aimed at Apple and AT&T.

At the moment, I am wrestling with set up and configuration issues. And I have to say, this is the worst new Apple product experience I've had in my life.

To be clear, I've been a loyal and enthusiastic Mac user since 1985. The first machine I ever touched was a Mac 128 running System 1.1. I've owned or used (at work) almost every generation of Mac ever made. My current whip is a MacBook Pro, my current phone is an iPhone 3G. I have unboxed and configured many dozens of Apple products over the years. And all of them put together have not been as much trouble as the iPad 3G. My store of goodwill for Apple magic is ridiculously high, and my personal experience with the nuts and bolts is almost as high.


Problem one. In order to establish the AT&T data plan, I have to provide a credit card. iPad informs me that credit cards which bill to PO boxes cannot be used. Guess what? Every aspect of my financial life flows through my PO box for security reasons. The Visa card in my hand can buy anything anywhere in the world except an iPad data plan from AT&T. I've been on the phone to AT&T and Apple, had three callbacks, and no one seems to be able to do anything except tell me to change my billing address with the credit card company. I'm pretty sure this is an AT&T issue, but it stinks, and it's stupid. How many thousands of iPad 3G early adopters have had exactly that same problem today? Major joint AT&T and Apple fail, as yet unresolved.

Problem two. iPad synced my iPhone apps (which seemed obvious enough) but didn't sync their preferences. Sorting out how to fix that took me some time, even with my vast fund of Apple experience. If I'd come to this tabula rasa it wouldn't be an issue, but that a long-time Apple fanboy like me had to struggle to work this out seems very strange. Minor Apple fail, resolved.

Problem three. iTunes throws sync errors repeatedly when addressing my iPad. It then syncs fully (more about this below, however). It also sometimes thinks the iPad has 64 GB of memory (well, about 59 GB), and sometimes thinks the iPad has 4 GB of memory. Something is very wrong here. Moderate Apple fail, as yet unresolved.

Problem four. When I finally unplugged the iPad from the MacBook Pro, then plugged it back in, iTunes wanted to set up as a new iPad. So the hour and half I just spent configuring the iPad would be blown. I've rebooted everything, same problem. Again, something is very wrong here. Major Apple fail, as yet unresolved.

It's late in the day. My chemo brain is fading. I don't have time or bandwidth to spend the next few hours on the phone with Apple's tech support. The iPad is actually nicely set up and synced now, whatever iTunes happens to think, so other than the 3G issue, it's perfectly usable. I'll deal with this over the weekend.

But right now I have to say Apple has really handed me a lemon. These aren't the teething problems I had when I first got my iPhone. These aren't the fixable hardware problems I had with my dual-USB iBook back in the day. This is serious, fresh out of the box crap. I'm really looking forward to using this iPad, but I need it to work correctly with iTunes first, to have the right memory allocations, to sync, and to be able to subscribe to a 3G data plan.

Hey, Steve Jobs. Your magical device is pretty much blowing chunks so far.

Tags: cancer, health, help, ipad, personal, tech

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