Yesterday saw the release of the much-anticipated Apple Tablet device, the iPad (whose name sounds like a ‘technical’ sanitary towel). The one and half hour event hosted by Apple to which the iPad took center stage, initially wooed the audience with its pleasant aesthetics and eBook reader functionality, however for me this was perhaps the first Apple event which I walked away feeling very disappointed.
Operating System: My worst fears came true, I saw the screen shots and realized that the iPad would be running a similar (if not identical) OS to that already on the iPhone and iPod touch. To me this was a massive failure right from the start, whilst the iPhone OS is stable, and hugely popular with the phone and iPods to me it lacks umph. It’s perfectly acceptable for running a twitter client, task manager and a few games but anything more than that and it struggles; to go one step further we are even prevented from running background processes on 3rd party apps – something which I would see critical to a tablet device. I’m not saying that I want to be playing videos, whist gaming; but I would like to have my twitter client running in the background, with music playing whist responding to email; something which unless iPhone OS 4.0 addresses we still wont be able to do. Perhaps I had too many hopes pinned on this, but I wanted the iPad to have Snow Leopard on and hence be able to use Photoshop on. I had visions of being able to use a stylus to navigate my way through day-to-day life of creativity with ease, alas I was disappointed.
Applications: As the iPad is iPhone OS based, the AppStore will be the primary source of applications. The first question which springs to mind, will I have to re-purchase copies of existing iPhone Apps so that I can have them on more than one device at a time. The reason being is that having spent £11.99 on Omnifocus task manager for my iPhone, if I were to purchase an iPad – I really would have issues with having to purchase another copy just for this device. Compatibility has already been deemed not to be an issue, with the existing apps ‘stretching’ to fill the screen; and new apps having the ability to be coded to naively run on the larger screen. As with the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPads ultimate success or failure will be down to the Apps which are developed, however with the majority of iPhone and iPod Touch Apps being games, the iPad is in danger of fashioning itself as a games console, rather than tablet device.
Creating A Need: Every Apple product launch strives to create a need and re-invent a device with improved features from that of its competitors. Take for instance the iPhone. The technology wasn’t new; and the first iPhone had less features than we use to with no 3G, poor camera and no MMS; what it did do was make internet browsing easy and made getting a smart phone to do what you wanted, a pleasure rather than a chore. The iPod and iTunes followed the same principle; music players and downloading music was nothing new; however the Apple revamp created a need for an ‘easier method’ of delivery; the iPad simply doesn’t do this. The iPad, in my opinion was meant to be a notebook that would contend with the MacBook Air; fulfilling the need to carry a fully fledged laptop to business meetings or to university/school, where the only functions required are wifi word processing. The design is beautiful, with the touch keyboard being something that looks as if it would be a pleasure to type on (especially with the keyboard accessory), however it is missing that ‘extra’ quality that I have been looking for. I want to be able to throw the iPad into my bag and have the same functionality as a MacBook Air but with reduced size and weight, the ability to walk down the street reading a book or copy of the NY Times, whist having my Twitter client running in the background; but alas it doesn’t.
Cost: The iPad will range between $499 and $829 (£310 and £512), which does seem to be fair for a device that offers a bigger screen and slightly more functionality than an iPod touch. However when you consider that you can get a netbook which can multi-task, and has a full OS (be that Windows or Linux) even the cheapest model of $499 for 16GB of storage seems rather expensive.
The iPad does look like an amazing piece of tech, however I think Apple have got rather twitchy about the Kindles position and decided to give the eBook reader the Apple touch by announcing an add-on to the iTunes store and a reader to go with it; which they have done well. If you look at the iPad as an eBook reader then it is a huge triumph for Apple as they have produced a reader with added features. However if you look at the iPad as a tablet, I see it to be a failure; its running a strip down OS with ‘toy apps’ not the desktop ones we know and love, and there is no sign of multi-tasking (which MacRoumers have confirmed). Two of the most basic things a tablet or notebook needs, or at least needs to get me to part with my money!
Hitler Finds Out About iPad: