First Thoughts on the iPad

January 29, 2010

Imagine this scenario:

You wake up in the morning and notice your digital photo frame. You sit down to eat, check your email and read the news. You commute into work and read a book on the bus or carpool in. You head to a meeting at work and take some notes, then email them out after. Over lunch you take a break and watch a video, then check your schedule. On the evening commute, you decide to listen to some tunes and play a video game. As you go to bed, you lay down to read a novel.

That could be a pretty typical day that has all sorts of things involved. Your laptop, book, video game system, folio, etc. Now imagine if you could have one device to do that all. That could be the iPad. That is why I think it is going to be a huge deal. The biggest thing for me, is that it doesn’t have to do all of the things I described well, it could do three of the things, like playing games, checking your email and reading a book, and it would still be worth it.

When the iPhone came out, it was a big deal because it condensed my phone, iPod and digital camera into one device. The iPad has a chance to do that again, but with more things around the house and office. And again, it doesn’t have to do all of those things well to be valuable. But the awesome part is, it very well might do all of those things well!

Changes the Web

I see the potential for all of the things the iPad can change, but from my web tech perspective I am even more excited. The iPad puts the web on the same playing field as print media finally. If you want to argue that the laptop was fine for viewing the web, go ahead. But in my experience, reading a magazine to read an article was nicer than trying to read a lengthy article on the laptop or smartphone. With the iPad, the web is now on equal footing with size and ease of reading.

The other huge thing is the fact that Webkit continues to support leading edge web standards that web designers and developers want to use. This means designers have the ability to mimic magazine article layouts and now have a platform to present them in a similar fashion. Imagine seeing an elaborate design, now in the ease of reading like a magazine.

Oh, and no Flash is no problem for me. For me, 90% of the things you see in Flash on a website can now be done with Javascript and HTML5. I want the open standards supported, and if the iPad gives the web standards more of a nudge forward, that is fantastic!

My Apps Just Work on it?

As much as I hate the whole App Store approval stuff, I will give Apple credit on keeping a tight lock on how apps get developed. By using the tools Apple provides, almost all apps will work on the iPad without any changes. The biggest reason for this is the common set of UI elements that developers have in creating their app. Now, when the apps get doubled in size on the iPad, all of the UI elements that Apple provides will increase in an elegant way. This isn’t to say that you would design an app for the iPad to look like a doubled in size iPhone app, but the fact that day one apps will work, that is impressive and throws a bit of a bone to App Store developers. And for the end user, the apps you have will work with no extra cost.

I realize that I am labeled as a Mac fanboy, so you might just throw all of this away as Mac hope. Sure I want to see the iPad succeed, but I also think this is going to honestly be a gamechanger with how some folks interact with technology. The ease of use with, that size screen and a decent weight means people will be able to do things more efficiently and with a pleasant experience. Will it be perfect? No, but I think it will be well worth the $500 entry price.