A few months ago I wrote these words:
In twenty years, the computer an average human uses will look a lot more like an iPad than it does like a PC.
It’s already happening that children are having their first human-computer interactions on mom or dad’s smartphone or tablet. The obvious nature of the interface these devices have is groundbreaking. Many of us have seen the video of the child playing with a magazine after using an iPad. There was an expectation of interactivity, that the content would slide away at the command of her finger. Maybe you’ve seen a similar response from your children.
I’m not exactly sure how long it will be before print magazines become a quaint memory, like rotary phones, but I can’t imagine a child born in the past year will ever be ordering a subscription periodical printed on dead trees. In the world they’re growing up into, that idea won’t be anything less than absurd.
In the Apple community, I keep hearing things like ‘OS X and iOS will never merge’ and ‘there will never be a touchscreen Mac.’ There are other like assertions, and it’s beyond my scope to talk about them all. These assertions are firmly grounded in the environment we live in today, and such statements yield very little to imagination.
One thing though of which I’m convinced — the child confused that her swipes and pinches leave the magazine unaffected will not find it any less strange to have a laptop screen ignoring her gestures en masse.
While I fully expect the future to have keyboards and mice (or some precision pointing device), touch is already precluding the ubiquity of both in the minds of children. When the upcoming generation is running the show, we will find another absurd idea, that a computer built for human interaction will have a screen that doesn’t respond to touch.
This leaves a lot of questions, many will only be answered by the future. However, one thing the iPad has made clear, the future doesn’t request the permission of the past.