Needless to say . . . no, it is necessary to say: I am not currently writing on an IPad. Perhaps I could be. . . but I'm in bed, my legs up, and the Macbook's edge resting on my tummy, the screen conveniently tilted to eliminate glare and fading. Frankly, I would be hard pressed to duplicate this experience with the IPad - even with the ingenious IPad case/cover and the separate, truly beautiful, bluetooth keyboard. But let's start this discussion a little differently.
I've been lucky to have the chance to play with this - thanks to the TLF, Adam, and Gail (who handed it to me).
The IPad (which I shall now call The I just to be confusing) is a lovely device. It is truly simple and intuitive to use. It has arrived in the home and is now the favorite toy for man, woman, and child. No one wants to play on the ITouch anymore. No one wants to give it up. For example, I've never enjoyed reading (emphasis on reading) the New York Times online as much before. Curled up in a chair, browsing, two finger expanding and pinching pictures and text it is a great experience. My wife (owner of the Touch) now has loaded numerous apps onto the thing - many from the iTouch. While they don't look the same given the pixel difference, they work fairly well. Some don't quite rotate around the way they should with the gravitron sensor (yes, I know it isn't called that). She has downloaded others as well. Many of them for my daughter who has never liked math and spelling as much as with this machine and has gotten into the zen of 'pond', 'flight', and other ingenious apps. I'll cover these more later.
The I has its limitations.
1. No flash (.swf) files work. New York Times could be better if I could see those videos and dynamic graphs. Will it ever? Unlikely. See: http://www.informationweek.com/news/infrastructure/management/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222600577
2. No camera. Would be nice to skype with the thing and have video when calling the grandPs in Boston. Will it ever? Probably.
3. No easy way to move files back and forth to it. This can be ameliorated with using Google Docs or other 'cloud' applications but it would be nice to be able to grab a .pdf or .doc file and read it on there. This is the opposite to, say, the Kindle, which looks like a drive when hooking up to a USB. Will it ever? Not likely.
4. Not a great keyboard. Keyboard is painful enough to use that you don't want to type ever. Maybe that's just me. Thus the separate keyboard is great. Will it ever be better? No.
The I shows up the best and worst of Job's view of apple products. They are cool. They look great. People can fall in love with them. There is a great deal of research in the last 10 years talking about the emotional aspects of usability design. Apple gets it. But, they are so controlling.
Ok, they are not "take over the world" controlling. No, see Cringly for at least one view on this: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080613_005065.html
and the opinionator at nytimes http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/is-steve-jobs-big-brother/
for another. But, controlling of the experience? - oh yeah. In addition, the world of Ipad, Itouch, Iphone apps is very insular. These apps don't talk to one another. There is no multiprocessing. Finally, Apple 'pushes iron'. Development requires a Mac for example. In many ways, they are an old world company in the computer industry. They harken back to the days of IBM in the 60s when software was given away for free and you sold (leased) hardware. But, they control the software (no porn for you) through their site incentivized with $1 a pop app fees to the lucky developer who makes a winner (very few). Open source trading of apps, moving files easily to the device, modifying the device to suit your needs: these are features of the open architecture of PCs; an historical accident when IBM had a year to introduce a micro (personal) computer and is what has fed the Microsoft beast ever since. As long as Jobs continues to create beautiful appliances and not electonic swiss army knives, we really have little to fear regarding being taken over. Our fears will be those of annoyance: of individuals who's views of the world don't quite fit the one that is forced upon us - if we choose to use the beautiful appliances offered.
Despite this, I'm determined to push this toy to its limits. I want to see if it can replace my PC, especially for travel, as a communication and text editing device. It would be good to have the case (back ordered) which would increase its function. So far, it has been able to handle my online summer course on Moodle. It can't compile C and Java programs that I require obviously but I can email and blog and forum post easily. What else has it shown itself capable of? It works in meetings (with keyboard). It works as a reference book or device next to a PC or a 'real' book or magazine. It works as a cookbook. I propped it behind a recipe book holder to good effect - although I think the case would have worked better for this. It works for travel games. It works for entertaining guests who have yet to see the thing. Let's see what else it can do....