I was in London on the day they launched the iPad in the UK, the queue wasn’t long, and… what can I say? I’m now the proud owner of an iPad. Despite the apparent impulsive nature of the purchase, I had actually thought fairly long and hard about it and decided that Apple’s newest baby really could represent a game changer in every sense.
First things first, it is every bit as lovely to hold and use as the adverts suggest (though “magical” may be taking it a little far). However, I do think it’s more important that the iPad is the first personal computer that is personal first and a computer second. Many of the ideas that we take for granted, like the way filesystems work, are subverted and improved by the iPad. Clearly, it draws many ideas from the iPhone, but the larger screen and keyboard make it much more practical for many tasks, and it’s almost possible to touch-type on it (certainly in landscape mode).
The key point, though, is that it’s a highly “discoverable” device, and much more intuitive in use than traditional computing products. And that’s not because the number of functions are limited. Think about conversations you have with friends and family who are not PC-literate, and the struggle to assist them with tasks that involve hard drives, folders, mounted filesystems, device drivers, or whatever. Some of this is a result of additional capabilities, but some of it is simply a reflection of legacy designs. The PC is akin to cars from fifty years ago, and we simply spend too much time under the bonnet. To draw another parallel, I do love sausages but I don’t need, or want, to see how they’re made.
Coming back to my goals, though, I see it as a way to reduce the occasions when I have to carry my laptop with me. It’s light enough (just) and the battery lasts long enough that I can pick it up in the morning and use it all day without worrying about proximity to power sockets. I can use it to create content and run presentations, read and send emails, update my sales forecast, add blog entries, browse the web, read my books, play the occasional game of Scrabble, and listen to my music. There are clearly many things I do on my MacBook Pro that I can’t do on my iPad, but maybe I’ll save those tasks for when I’m in the office.
Okay, so I definitely do want a camera, but surely there will be an attachment available soon? If not, then I might well be queuing for iPad 2.0 as well….