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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iPad question No. 3: Does the iPad support VPN and configuration management?
If the iPad doesn't support Exchange, I can't imagine it wouldn't work with VPN and configuration management, two capabilities that the iPhone and iPod Touch can claim.

Although the iPhone and iPod Touch doesn't support over-the-air management of the device or its security capabilities, they do support these capabilities using emailed or Web-downloaded configuration files. This management approach is nowhere usable for enterprises, as it gives no assurance that users have the right configuration, but small businesses with local IT staff can deal with it. (Yes, several vendors such as Good Technology now offer more enterprise-class management tools for the iPhone.)

If Apple has pulled these capabilities from the iPad, then almost no business can seriously allow an iPad onto its network. Apple won't say.

iPad question No. 4: Can you use media services other than iTunes on the iPad?
The idea of a highly portable media player is compelling -- I'd love to have one when traveling so that I could watch Netflix programs in the hotel, rather than be stuck with the usually uninteresting hotel cable fare. My MacBook Pro gets too hot to place in my lap, and watching a DVD or streaming video on the MacBook while sitting in a hotel desk is not very pleasant.

But there is no way to watch Netflix streamed video -- or that of similar services -- on an iPad. On an iPhone or iPod Touch, the screen size doesn't make for great movie-watching, so the lack of a Netflix app on those devices isn't so bothersome. On an iPad, it will be. So far, it appears that iTunes will be your only quality media source on the iPad (YouTube doesn't qualify; it's more of a needle-in-the-haystack source for amusing clips), which means you can't use a service from someone else that you already paid for; instead, you'll need to give Apple money. Maybe using my laptop isn't so bad an option after all.

I should point out that the issue may not be Apple's but AT&T's. Apple's app approval process sometimes acts as a proxy for AT&T, such as the Apple policy that disallowed VoIP iPhone apps because AT&T said its networks couldn't handle the traffic. Last fall, AT&T said it no longer objected to VoIP iPhone apps running over 3G (they had been limited to Wi-Fi), and Apple began approving them. Just this past Friday, AT&T said it dropped its objections to Sling Media's video-streaming service for the iPhone, which had thus been limited to Wi-Fi connections. Presumably, this means Apple will approve a 3G version of the Sling app and open the door to other services such as Netflix's. For now at least, Apple won't say.

Will Apple allow the use of such video services? There's been no comment so far.

iPad question No. 5: Can the iPad be used for videoconferencing?
The iPad has no embedded camera, as the iPhone and MacBooks do (but not the iPod Touch). That's riled many people who could see the iPad as a great videoconferencing tool. There's potential for adding a camera through the iPad's sole connection port; after all, companies have offered plug-in microphones to iPods this way. But it's unclear that even with an add-on camera whether Apple would allow videoconferencing apps on the iPad.

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