Having experienced the iPad for a little while we come to the ugly part. It’s strange that in many ways the best feature of the iPad is the worst, the App store. There are plenty of great apps on the appstore, but it is countered by being dominated by apps which use the in app purchases to exploit customers. There are many examples of this and I looked at the Smurfs app, and then EA’s Theme Park app, having heard of issues with children running up high bills for their parents. When you load these apps they seem to be free, but it isn’t very long before you find you need to buy supertickets or smurfberries before you can progress in the game and it isn’t clear in some cases that this is real money you are spending. If it is less than 15 minutes from when you downloaded the app then these purchases can be hidden and any child or unassuming adult can rattle up quite a bill.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the app store as a whole, but when you start looking at the reviews of most of the free apps you find that people are overwhelmingly disappointed with the restrictions set before needing to purchase some kind of virtual good to progress. What’s more, all the games are the same! Building a theme park is just the same as building a smurf village, using berries to build houses or tickets to build rides. It is a very unrewarding experience.
If you can find good apps they are usually provided by decent brands and serve to enhance their image in the eyes of the user, but beware of any apps which show some top selling in app purchases on the little column on the left hand side.
Luckily you can turn off the ability to purchase anything from apps, and we did this on our iPad almost immediately. You just can’t trust the developers to give adequate warnings that you are spending real money for these goods, and as Apple earn 30%, I guess it isn’t in their best interest to clean out all this rubbish from their store. Its a shame, as these apps clog up the store and prevent you from finding the real gems.
So there you have it, our good, bad and ugly of Apple’s iPad. We still think it is a great device, but somehow you never get finished spending money with it, and having to tie the thing to a computer and being wary of unscrupulous apps seems to somehow contradict the promise of freedom.