First a small disclaimer of sorts: This is actually the first Apple device I've ever owned, and I've been extremely curious about how it might integrate into my daily routine. Before getting the iPad, I had no prior experience with technology like this in the kitchen, using apps, or anything beyond using a recipe notebook and a pen.
I decided to get an iPad for a lot of reasons, not all of which had to do with cooking. Mostly, I was already doing most of my recipe searching and cooking-related exploring online, and it felt natural to bring that with me into the kitchen. I wanted the kind of mobility and flexibility this device offered.
Recipe Websites - The number one way that I use the iPad in the kitchen is as a recipe viewer. Instead of copying a recipe from my computer into my notebook - and then running between between my kitchen and computer to double check what I wrote - I just bring up the recipe, enlarge it to fill the screen, and take it into the kitchen.
Most of the time I have it beside me on the work surface, much like I would have my notebook or a cookbook. If I'm doing something very messy or that takes up space, I set it on a separate counter out of harms way (though I might build a peg board like Sarah Rae's soon!) If my fingertip is sticky or dirty, a knuckle or the back of my hand can be used to scroll through the recipe.
Besides having the recipe with all its notes, comments, and exact wording right there, I also like that I can easily open a new screen and do a quick Google search if I have a question about anything. This is super handy and has saved me a lot of time. It's also a nice to be able to check my e-mail and browse blogs while I wait for water to boil or some bread to finish baking!
Reading Food Blogs - This actually has been slightly less handy than I was hoping. I read the majority of my blogs through an RSS feed (Google Reader), and the website's interface on the iPad is different than I'm used to. It requires a lot of clicking through links, scrolling, and opening new windows. Tagging and e-mailing posts also requires some delicate finger work. So far I've found this to be annoying and tedious, but I'm also open to the idea that I'll adjust to it with time.
Also, without constantly enlarging the screen, I have found the type on most websites a little too small to read comfortably for very long. Things are slightly better in the landscape view, but then you can't see as much of the screen. Which then requires more scrolling and clicking. It's a trade off.
Casual browsing or looking up old posts is fine, but sitting down for a long reading session with my favorite blogs is not the best, in my opinion.
Cooking Apps - There aren't too many of these so far. The Epicurious app is really fantastic and well-suited for the iPad, which matches our first impression of it. I actually find myself using Epicurious more as an app on my iPad than I did browsing the website on my computer.
E-Magazines and E-Cookbooks - Also not many of these so far, but the potential is definitely there. I recently came across the maiden issue of Sweet Paul Magazine (check it out here!) and it looks phenomenal on the iPad. Seriously. The whole iPad screen is filled with those gorgeous food shots, and the text fits nearly perfectly in the vertical view.
If this is a taste of things to come...well, I'm hungry for more!
Movies and Clips - To be honest, I haven't used the iPad for this at all (for cooking purposes, anyway). It's not the lack of Flash or the lack of video quality, it's just my personal habit. I don't watch a lot of cooking videos. The non-cooking videos I've watched look great, though! If e-magazines and e-cookbooks start to integrate more video links, this could be really handy.
Overall - After using the iPad for a month, I definitely like it and I'm happy having it. It's fulfilled its purpose of bringing technology into my kitchen in a way that feels natural and easy. It's not necessarily revolutionary or life-changing, but I didn't need it to be. I see the iPad as a tool, rather like my KitchenAid mixer and my favorite knife. These things make life easier, to be sure, but they're only as useful as you make them to be.
How have you been using the iPad in and around the kitchen?
Related: iPhone Apps for the Home Cook
(Image: Emma Christensen)