ipad, the day after

People keep talking to me about the iPad. I suppose it’s my own fault for posting so many links and comments about it, but I wanted to write some thoughts that address many of the common issues that people have been bringing into question.

The iPad is not a big iPhone. Truth be told, the iPhone is actually a tiny iPad, with a cellular phone tacked on. That might be hard to come to terms with being that the iPhone was released first, but there have been many reports that development of a tablet computer has been going on at Apple for the better part of the last decade. So, even though it’s fun to say, stop calling it a big iPhone.

Sean Sperte recently posted a blog addressing the iPad in which he said:

What I’m getting at is that I don’t think the iPad is just another portable device that fills a gap. Even contrary to the way it was introduced, I don’t think the iPad fits the in-between-smartphone-and-PC moniker. I think it’s much more. I think it is the new PC — in its infancy.

Sean is absolutely right. The iPad is Apple’s way of telling us that the interface they brought us with the iPhone is really what they envision powering the next generation of computers. In the introduction video they posted yesterday, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design declared:

In many ways this defines our vision, our sense, of what’s next.

In a way, they see their touch operating system being to the current generation of computers what the keyboard, mouse, and window system were to the text based systems that preceded them.

And yet outcries abound. Wired just posted an article called Ten Things Missing From the iPad. They point out all the usual suspects that tech geeks aplenty have been complaining about since the iPad was unveiled: no flash, multitasking, keyboard, etc. The issue is that everyone expects these things to be in the iPad, because they’re in the computers we have now.

Well, the iPad isn’t the computer you have now. Frankly many of us have forgotten how many issues there are with our computers. We have been so anesthetized to the problems of todays personal computers because of their ubiquity, that we haven’t cared enough to look for a successor.

Back in the day, I remember when multitasking didn’t exist yet. Your computer ran one thing at a time. We presume that because multitasking was such an innovation to computing, then unquestionably it’s better. It almost becomes an unspoken pillar of computer interface design. Well guess what. My iPhone doesn’t have multitasking. Sure, it’s not as feature rich as my computer, but using my iPhone is a hands-down better experience than using my laptop (and that’s a tall order considering I have a Mac). What my iPhone does, it does quickly, beautifully, and in an utterly uncomplicated manner.

Apple wants that same great experience for more general purpose computing. The things they left out that all us techies keep complaining about have been left out purposefully. Some have been left out for aesthetics, some for user experience, and some unquestionably to reach their ambitious price goal. In any case, the iPad aims to offer the best computing experience that you’ve ever had.

Another piece of evidence that proves this is how Apple feels about the iPad was their introduction of iWork. The simple fact that the iPad has a larger screen means that it can do real work, and Apple wanted to show that off. My incorrect prediction was that the iPad would ship with iLife: iPhoto, GarageBand, etc. And while I’m sure iLife applications are on the way, in hindsight, iWork helps Apple present their vision more clearly. They want people to rethink the way they make real applications. What would Photoshop look like on the iPad (heaven forbid). What about Pro Tools audio suite? Final Cut Pro? How about some video games? Madden? Command and Conquer?

The magic in the iPad will be the software. Apple has set a precedent. By releasing iWork they’re saying: ‘Look, you really can make seriously great software on this thing. What can you guys come up with?’ My excitement for the iPad is not because I think it’s the end all for touch computing. The reality is that it’s just the beginning. Again, as Sean so aptly stated, “the new PC – in its infancy.”

January 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I loved reading this Chuck! I appreciated your perspective. However, I think I will wait until iPad has reached adulthood, even adolescence before making my purchase.

Marian, January 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

People are looking at this device as the conclusion.  It’s a beginning.  I’m thinking about what this technology will be able to do in 10 years.  Heck, even 2 or 3.  This is just the first-gen model.  Within a couple years most of those missing features will probably be included, especially multi-tasking, which is the only thing I’m upset that they didn’t include in this model now.

Ryan, January 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm

well, i agree that the ipad is just the brink of a larger idea and concept. to go as far to say that your iphone is a hands down better experience than your laptop…? that is taking it a bit far, perhaps you are trying to justify your reason for owning it. i have used them and set them up for administrators at my job—-while cool and yes, useful, still need further development and not to mention that the 3G network is overloaded. that being said, when it is running on wi-fi, it is still slow to load webpage content, and with flash missing-which is a key factor if the ipad is to be used in an educational institution, it is impossible to say it is the ultimate web experience—-that line alone told me that apple really does not give a crap about what users want and are fine to make something not so amazing sound like the best thing in the world.

Jack, January 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Marian: Thanks, that sounds like a great idea. It’s no doubt version 2.0 will have far more advantages than this first iteration.

Ryan: My mind has been full of ideas of how applications could work better on this thing. I’m excited with you about all the possibilities.

Jack: I’m really not taking it far at all. So many of the things I do are significantly simpler and more pleasurable to use on my iPhone. Tweetie for iPhone is nicer to use than any Mac/PC client I’ve used (every popular one), including Tweetie for Mac. Email works better for me on iPhone. I’m a one inbox kind of guy. I rarely ever have more than a one sentence response. And the slickness and integration of the email app throughout the iPhone, including in many third party apps makes it more productive to me than either webmail or the Mail client on my Mac. My news reader, my task manager, facebook, Google Maps. I’m being 100% honest in saying these things work better for me on iPhone than on a PC. I can really only imagine how great they’ll be on a big screen. As to the slow internet, the iPhone web is slow (over wifi) because it’s a phone with a slow processor, the 3GS is significantly faster than the 3G because of the new processor. Reports from everyone who has browsed on the iPad are that it’s incredibly fast. Lastly, I have a great distaste for flash, I’ve mentioned it online many times. Here is one of my blogs about it.

Chuck, January 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

How soon will the ipad be available for purchase?

Megs, January 29, 2010 at 12:18 am

Late March for WiFi only model, April for the model with optional 3G wireless.

Chuck, January 29, 2010 at 12:28 am

Joe Hewitt of the facebook app agrees with me about the iPhone experience.

My goal was initially just to make a mobile companion for the facebook.com mothership, but once I got comfortable with the platform I became convinced it was possible to create a version of Facebook that was actually better than the website!

Chuck, January 29, 2010 at 8:58 am

@skoda on App.net @technochocolate on App.net