Mike Elgan: 15 iPad mysteries remain

Think you know all about Apple's iPad? Here's what we don't know

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Will Apple censor TV, movies and magazines?

Apple famously censors the iPhone's App Store for sexual, violent and other content. However, this same kind of material exists in TV shows, movies, books and magazines that Apple will be also offering through iTunes. If the depiction of certain categories of human behavior are unacceptable to Apple in the app store, will that same kind of thing be removed or banned from the iTunes media store?

Will Apple stop censoring apps?

If Apple allows R-rated content in TV shows and movies, will it also stop filtering or censoring app store content? Will the iPad and iPhone come to resemble the wider Internet?

Will Apple set up strong parental filters for the iPad?

The most likely solution to the objectionable content problem is for Apple to set up parental filters that enable parents to gift junior an iPad, but one locked down for content. If rolled out also for iPhone, that would mean app developers would be freed from current content restrictions, and Hollywood would be free to peddle the usual smut and gratuitous violence on the iPad, but with parental filters. iPads could even ship with these filters on by default, and the user would have to prove legal adulthood before gaining full access to all content. But at this point, we have no idea what Apple is going to do.

Will Amazon's Kindle app for iPad offer newspapers and magazines?

Amazon says it will offer a Kindle app for iPad, which means current Kindle owners should be able to buy and access their Kindle book libraries like they can on the iPhone. The question is, will Kindle users be able to access their newspapers and magazines like they do on the Kindle? Or will periodicals be inaccessible, as they are on the iPhone?

Will iPhone apps run side-by-side on iPad?

Jobs mentioned that iPhone apps will run on iPad. Fine. But how, exactly? Will you be able to run three of them side-by-side -- dare we say it? -- in a multi-tasking mode? Will some of them show only an iPhone-size display in the middle of a dark screen? Will they run full screen, with giant icons and oversized menu text? Nobody really knows.

Will the iPad have free-floating windows?

The iPad is reportedly capable of running free-floating windows (windows you can move around on-screen like a PC's, rather than windows fixed it place like the iPhone's.) But, will that be a standard way to view apps? Will you be able to re-size any windows on the iPad?

Will iPad crash the mobile Internet?

iPhone users now gobble up the lion's share of mobile Internet data. But what happens when iPhones are supersized on the iPad, possibly millions of people sign up for unlimited data plans and people start downloading high-def content by the petabyte? Nobody knows.

Will free Internet content cost money on the iPad?

Publishing companies such as Hulu and a wide range of media companies are apparently mulling the idea of charging for content delivered to iPads that they give away on the Internet. The Associated Press announced that it's developing an iPad app that will enable them to charge for newspaper stories. Will there be an "iPad tax" for content?

Will we see Microsoft Office for iPad?

A Senior Microsoft executive told a British publication that Microsoft was "looking at" offering Microsoft office for the iPad. Will they? Won't they? Should they? These are unanswerable questions.

Thanks to the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field and the Apple Hype Machine, we all feel an uneasy familiarity with the iPad. In truth, many people are -- ironically -- fed up with a device they've never even seen.

However, the reality is that iPad remains a device of mystery. We really don't know all that much about it.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com, follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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