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The iPad experience

Following up from my previous post about my initial thoughts of the iPad, I’d like to elaborate on what I think is the most important quality of Apple’s new device.

Unfortunately, the iPad is too easily being overlooked as simply a bigger iPhone (there are lots of other complaints but I’m only focusing on this aspect in this post). I think this is because we’re used to being blown away by Apple announcements. We’ve grown to expect the above and beyond. However, this time around, we were introduced to something we were already used to seeing – an iPhone. But bigger.

Of course from this perspective, the unveiling can be easily considered as interesting as Windows 7 (sorry, I still don’t see any significant difference between it and Vista other than running a little faster and the Mac-like taskbar).

It’s not your desktop, laptop or iPhone

Also, the general expectation of a tablet is being a full fledged computer. But a lot smaller. It’s a common misconception that netbooks fulfill this role and a tablet would be much cooler. Not exactly.

As we learned from netbooks (and the iphone for that matter), I firmly believe that a computer the size of a book just can’t be used for the same tasks as a desktop or laptop. That is, beyond writing Word documents, websurfing and checking e-mail. Heck, I’ve grown impatient with surfing websites not optimized for the iPhone and I’d rather not write e-mail on it. Tweet yes, e-mail no.

I haven’t seen nor held the iPad but from what I can tell, it seems the most obvious purpose of the iPad is the experience of using it in the palm of your hand. Just like you would hold a book or scratch on a clipboard. More on this later.

As an e-reader, the iPad experience is you can hold it in your hands just like a book (obviously) and physically touching the screen to flip the pages. From the keynote photos, this looks to be as close to experiencing a physical book as it could get without the clumsy simulations and distance created while using a mouse.

Interacting with what you are learning

This company is already announcing creating textbooks for the iPad. The student will be physically touching the data. The potential lies in the student being able to physically manipulate the data and see results right in the textbook.

No, really, it’s not your desktop or laptop

I lamented the lack of pressure sensitivity in my last post. However, would it really make sense for me to use the iPad to build commissioned art? Instead, I can see using it to sketch out ideas and colour schemes while out and about (I have a habit of drawing anywhere).

I don’t think the iPad (nor it’s upcoming competing devices of this size) was designed to be used for the same amount of time and workload as we would on a desktop or laptop. For example, I can’t imagine it being appropriate or ergonomic for editing serious video or composing music for release.

Cloud computing

Also, cloud computing is ubiquitous and is here to stay. This is exactly what Google’s Chrome OS is all about. The browser is the OS. Apple wants you to synch your apps with your iPhone. Work seamlessly between devices. I read ten years ago how we wouldn’t recognize the Internet today.

Further reading: