Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Apple iPad, A few thoughts

Well, After a lot of rumours and a lot of Speculation, Apple's taken the covers off their newest Device, the iPad. Its a Slate with a touchscreen Interface running a modified version of the iPhone OS. As such those people who were guessing that it would be a big ipod touch Were quiet close.

As the device will go on sale in little under a month, most of discussion on its Pros and Con's is still pretty academic. Still, after looking at all the commentary that's floating on the web, its possible to look at possible usage scenarios and extrapolate from there.

From the outset it looks like Apple set out to do two things. Firstly to extend the iPhone OS to another Platform Beyond the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Advantage for Apple and consumers lays in the fact that the iPad will be able to run most of the Apps already in in the App store, providing potential customers with Millions of Apps right out of the Door as well as allowing existing iPhone and iPod touch users to get a better return on the money they've already invested in Apps. That can be a very important point as you can ask any Computer or smart phone user who's chosen or had to change platforms, rendering their investment worthless.

Secondly, Apple's set out to create the ultimate media consumption device, allowing you to Listen to music, Watch Movies, Read, Surf the Web, Play Games and a lot more on a reasonably large screen which is still very portable so people can take it with them when they go out or Travel. The larger screen should hopefully be better for longer sessions as, for most people trying to watch video or read on a smaller screen for long periods of time is not comfortable nor convenient. While the 4:3 ratio is not the best for movie watching, its a good compromise in a multifunctional display, especially as it look like Apple wanted to maintain Screen symmetry with the iPhone to allow Apps to scale well.

As such while they showed off Apps like iWork, Keynote etc which would allow people to work on and create on the device, that subset of users is probably going to be a minority, with most users preferring to use a computer for serious work sessions while just reviewing, presenting or doing minor edits on the device itself.

That brings us to another point about the iPad. Many people were hoping that it would serve as a laptop / computer replacement and while it will do, it will only be to a limited extent. Users are going to need to have a full computer or at least regular access to one as the iPad is going to operate like a iPod Touch / iPhone requiring you to use a computer to Load media onto the device as well as to do updates. As Such, its looking more and more like an additional companion Device, perhaps the Coffee Table or Kitchen Computer (Or more likely the Bathroom Computer).

Still the device is not perfect. The lack of multitasking for non Apple Apps is an issue, especially on a more powerful, bigger screened device. Still, while Power users will probably find the lack much more frustrating, even casual users are going to run into the issue at times, especially if they think its a complete computer or net book replacement.

The Lack of a Camera, especially a forwarding facing camera is much more glaring, at least in my opinion. I use video conferencing via Skype pretty much everyday, for multiple reasons ranging form keeping in touch with family, getting work done and even helping to troubleshoot computer issues by allowing me to see their screens and talking them through the steps.

While I can do most of my work on the iPhone (though restricted by screen size) and should be able to do so on the iPad the inability to do this wold make it difficult to use the iPad as a light weight travel computer when I know I'm not going to need the full capability of my laptop. Also If the camera were there I could see it as in ideal way to get less computer literate members of my online and video chatting with us and each other. Still there is always hope for the second generation :-).

Still over all it looks like an interesting Product, though how much of a market there is for it still leaves to be seen.