The iPad questions Apple won't answer

As the smoke clears from Steve Jobs' iPad demo, missing details suggest there's less to Apple's tablet than meets the eye

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Yet it doesn't appear that the iPad will let you transfer files in folders via iTunes, email attachment downloads, or wireless networks. (I do, however, expect some of the Wi-Fi file-sharing hack apps will enable you to transfer files, though it is unclear whether Apple's iWork productivity app will be able to see them.) Given that Apple will offer a version of its Mac-only iWork suite for the iPad, it would make sense to be able to transfer files to and from the iPad.

Unfortunately, Apple's Website only mentions access to iWork and Office files from email and avoids any claim of saving the file to the device. The implication is that iWork for iPad can open email attachments, edit them in memory or within protected cache in the app itself, then send out the edited version in email. It's also apparent that iWork can read both Office and iWork documents, but only send back iWork or PDF documents. Again, Apple remains silent on this discrepancy, one that essentially restricts document editing to Mac users who have iWork -- an extremely tiny sliver of the world.

iPad question No. 2: Does the iPad support Microsoft Exchange email?
Apple mentioned several Web-based email providers that would work with the iPad's Mail app, such as Gmail and Hotmail, but Microsoft Exchange was conspicuously absent. I first assumed that the iPad would support Exchange and the same handful of Exchange ActiveSync security policies as the iPhone and iPod Touch, but now I'm not so sure. My colleague Jason Snell, editor in chief of Macworld, would be surprised if Apple removed Exchange from the iPad, given its place on the iPhone and iPod Touch, but he too can't say for certain.

Analyst Chris Hazelton from the 451 Group noticed the Exchange omission back on Jan. 27 and told the IDG News Service that the iPad categorically won't support Exchange. When I spoke with him later, he acknowledged that this was a supposition on his part, not a confirmed fact, but that Apple has not responded to his inquiries. Apple hasn't responded to me on this, either, and neither he nor I can fathom why Apple would not clarify this simple fact immediately.

If you, like me, see the potential of the iPad as a laptop surrogate for short business trips, the lack of Exchange support kills that potential, and it signals that the iPad is not a dual-purpose business/consumer device as the iPhone and iPod Touch are. Instead, it is, as has been suggested by some, just a big iPod.

Apple's announcement of the iWork productivity app for the iPad led many of us to see the iPad as a lightweight laptop for e-mail, Web access, and basic document work -- but the lack of Exchange, coupled with iWork for iPad's inability to save files in Microsoft Office formats, would mean that the only business users who could harness the iPad for work would be that tiny portion of Mac-based professionals who don't run Exchange email.

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