As I write this I’m sitting next to the iPad, ’tis true. Not using the iPad — sitting next to it.
I had no idea an iPad would be arriving at our house on Saturday, April 3, the very first day they became available (my wife needed it for her Web QA and usability business, so my first experiences with the iPad were blissfully unprepared and unanticipated).
While reports of the iMugging in the iMission near where I live were later corrected as a hoax (or at least, not quite as topical), with the first shipments of the promised devices hitting the town on Saturday, the whole city seemed nevertleless under its spell the entire weekend.
Though I have yet to overcome my primary association with iPad as introduced by MADtv, I did actually get to touch and poke and swipe and use it fresh out of the gate during the weekend. I should correct that slightly: my daughter used it the most, and I watched (and I am far from the only one standing by patiently with my kid using the iPad). My snap judgment is that I generally concur with these first reviews that talk about how kids — or those thinking like kids — “get it” more immediately than adults. As my 5-year-old daughter exclaimed, “someone left a ginormous iPod TV on the stairs” – “getting it” instantly – and immediately all our other mobile devices are rendered instantly miniaturized, Alice-in-Wonderland “drink-me”-style.
In my (granted limited) hands-on exposure, my thoughts are that it’s BINGO for entertainment. We spent the most satisfying time watching (HTML5) videos – even already successful on (non-Flash) YouTube – as well as episodes seamlessly, instantly, and beautifully streamed via Netflix. News also stands to get a boost by this device: sites like the Times and ABC – both “printed” and video – render beautifully and perhaps, as my neighbor suggested, this will revitalize the ‘printed’ newspaper. For books however? Not an immediate replacement for the Kindlers out there – the backlit screen is still too harsh with which to spend that kind of novel time.
Leanne (faithfully testing applications as is her job) says many of the applications that are righteously hyped on the iPhone, notably including Twitter interfaces best known for being minimal, have not yet re-written their interfaces to capitalize on the extra screen real estate. Other applications did fill up the whole screen, but awkwardly.
What I also found noticably odd from a physical perspective was being able to tune into the online – and hence tune out the offline (that means “the real world”) – seemingly more places inside the household than ever before, and more adeptly than with the more conspicuous mobile smartphones. Why did I really need to try to shop online for those shirts on Easter Sunday on the living room couch when I could have been talking with my family? Since the device is larger, though, it does lend itself to more “social viewing” within groups of people than does the smartphone.
In short, I felt it seemed great for pulling information and content – especially socially and severally; but for pushing it back — which for me is the important thing about the mobile generation of devices: not so good. No camera, no mobile carriers (yet), apparently some sensors, but no video. And the keyboard? The iPhone keyboard doesn’t work for me yet, so I hardly could have expected it from the iPad despite increased size, and I threw my hands up in defeat rather than type into all the fields required to finish my iShopping spree on the iCouch during iEaster.
Most profoundly for me at present, the “human as sensor” revolutionary element that we’re finding so key in worldwide civil rights demonstrations and current events seems apparently missing with this nevertheless-take-anywhere device. So, iPad, are you a mobile device or not? Are you a bit more like an interactive take-anywhere but still push-only TV?
Granted, perhaps my hands have yet to pull the Darwin in the right direction to adapt to the keyboard, but I’m a little surprised at folks who are already foreseeing giving up their laptops in favor of the iPad. Have they done a lot of typing on the ‘pad already? I feel the major hurdle is still going to be digitization of text – perhaps the key will be in the evolution of usable speech-to-text. Leanne says we just have to hook up the keyboards in the meantime — but I think it’s really a keyboardless and mouseless paradigm ahead.
For THAT enterprise-readiness — and we geeks remember when Scotty walks up to the computer in Star Trek IV and says “Computer?” — we’re not ready for prime time. Maybe when my daughter is my age.
The Original iPad: MADtv ca. 2006