I did try and avoid wading into the torrent of iPad love/hate streaming through Twitter but it seems that a lot of people just dont ‘get’ the device and where it sits in the market so I thought I’d dust off my soap-box and add try shout over the noise to anyone who might listen.
First, let me state, this isn’t a fanboy post, I don’t actually care that the device is from Apple, I’d have the same opinions if this was released by any other manufacturer.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said “I already have a phone and a laptop, why would I want this?”, which to me is like saying “I already have a car and my legs, why would I want a push bike?”. The answer is: You might not need this! This product, just like any other consumer electronic product is not meant for absolutely everyone on the planet, you might not need it, so why publicly moan that Apple hasn’t released something you absolutely positively have to have to make your life complete?
The iPad isn’t meant to replace your laptop, or your phone, it’s a coffee table device. Something that sits in your living room for when you need it, maybe you pick it up to look through your TV guide and set some programs to record on your Sky+ without messing about with the remote control, maybe you sit with your partner and do your weekly food shop from the sofa, or flip through your DVD collection to find a film to watch which when you’ve found one, starts playing on the TV at the tap of the pad, if it’s getting late and you’ve not finished the movie, take the device upstairs and carry on watching the film from where you left it. It’s for those tasks and situations where a laptop is just too much.
On a morning it might be sat in a cradle on your bookshelf, a large format display tells you the weather forecast, the headlines and your schedule / to-do list for the day while you’re sat across the room eating your cereal. In the evening it might stay in the cradle and act as a photo frame pulling photos from your families Flickr accounts like most WiFi frames do these days.
The applications while travelling are fairly obvious, you might want to take a laptop with you if you want to work, but for most trips you might take your iPad instead, sat on the beach with it in a (relatively) water and sandproof case which would be more possible with this device than a laptop.
Yes, your iPhone can do a lot of this already but browsing, reading or watching for extended periods of time isn’t comfortable, and it’s not meant to be. You wouldn’t take an iPad with you everywhere you went, I think most of the time it would sit in your living room and do most of the things you’d normally sit on your laptop and do in a casual-computing form.
“gestural interfaces will eventually change the way we work,
these are the first steps.”
For me, as a designer I can also see me taking this to client meetings to demonstrate website designs, or to re-work flowcharts or information architectures by dragging things about with the client. Yes, a laptop can do this, but that’s not the point, gestural interfaces will eventually change the way we work, these are the first steps.
Too many people are concentrating on what the iPad does right now and not thinking about what the device will be capable of once the developers get their hands on it. You’re going to moan about multitasking but I’ll put money on that being supported down the line.
This, to me, is the first consumer product that starts to really demonstrate the technologies that Microsoft envisioned in this amazing video which I saw at dConstruct.