Apple’s New iThing, Because the Fiddly Bits are Too Fiddly

02Feb10

Anyone who has stumbled onto this blog most certainly has already heard all about Apple’s latest creation, announced last Wednesday, January 27th. Let’s just get this out of the way now. Yes, they called it the iPad. No, I do not like that name. In fact, of all the rumored names, it was my least favorite. I would go so far as to say I hate the name. I had hoped Apple would drop the ‘i’ prefix. “Apple Canvas” was my hope. So much better, and not registered by Fujitsu.

So right off the bat we are off to a bad start, right? It’s just a bigger iPod touch with a bad name, isn’t it? At first glance, I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking this, but after taking a deeper look, I think it is much more than that. Honestly I have yet to handle one, but I’ve read and heard a lot about it from people who have. Most anyone who has handled it swear that one cannot dismiss this device until it has been handled. I can see some of what they are saying in the videos, the devices looks very responsive. Snappy and quick, with slowdowns only happening when retrieving information over the wireless network (either Wi-Fi or 3G).

With everything we have seen about this device, I think there is a lot about it Apple didn’t mention. Stuff we’ll have to wait until release day to find out, or even June. This is because the device is running iPhone OS 3.2, and conventional wisdom says iPhone OS 4.0 will be released, or at least announced, at WWDC in June. Apple most certainly choose not to discuss some features as to not tip their hand too soon about what is coming in the next iPhone. This could also be a part of the reason the 3G version is delayed, perhaps it contains a webcam for video conferencing, a feature rumored to be in the next iPhone.

There’s been a lot of discussion about who this device is for. Over the years, user interfaces have actually become more and more complicated. Further, there are numerous options for one to customize the interface. Modern computers can do so much, the options are endless, but with all those options comes no end of complications. Those of us who have grown up working with computers, those of us who are considered (by ourselves or others) as “geeks” or “nerds,” do not really understand how difficult a modern computer an be to use, despite the best efforts of Apple, Microsoft, and others to make them “easier” to use.

In short, the fiddly bits are too fiddly. When someone just wants to check their email, fire off their responses, and get back to their life, they do not need multitasking. They don’t need to be distracted by fudging around with settings. They just want to get into their e-mail program, do their business, and get out. If my iPod touch is any indication, the iPad will do this remarkably well (the iPod touch is okay, but my first generation device is too slow to be “magic”). Same goes for browsing the web, or doing any one of the numerous things that apps already available for iPhone OS can do.

In summary, the iPad is for people who are not computer users, but want to do the things generally associated with the computer. Or for times when a “computer user” wants to take a break from being one. This category of people will not be happy with a netbook, as those are still fiddly, and are not really good at what the iPad does so well (again, if my iPod touch is any indication). I can think of many instances in my daily life where the iPad would be a much better device for me then my iPod touch and my laptop. In none of those cases would I be happy with a baby laptop (netbook).

As a developer, I’m excited about what I may be able to do with this device. In the market I’m targeting, table-top RPG players, I can think of programs like interactive character sheets, a GM tool that interfaces with players iPhones or iPads, mappers, and there are other ideas floating around in my head. I’m very interested in pursuing development of tools RPGers can use either individually or connected to others on the iPhone OS (and perhaps other) platforms.

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One Response to “Apple’s New iThing, Because the Fiddly Bits are Too Fiddly”

  1. @iThing:

    There already is an iThing vs. iPad Video

    and even an iThing Facebook site:
    http://www.facebook.com/the.incredible.iThing


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