At the risk of blushing because I want to talk about the iPad...


 

and of course the inevitable jokes that will follow anything thusly named, oh and what will they call the largest ipad with the most memory? A Maxi-pad…


You may groan now.

In spite of it's name, I think that this is the direction for the future of mainstream computing.

For a long time I've been asking people who should know this stuff about why on God's green earth are we still using desks and keyboards and screens to do our daily computing? What is required are computers that are integrated into our lives better, with no technological barrier between the user and the cpu, That's what we've needed for many years now. We should be more creative than this.

I have long yearned, yes yearned people, for a computer with no desk required, (Ok thank you laptop) and no keyboard required, (Ok now you're stretching me just a bit but keep talking) and possibly not even a mouse to interface with. (Oh my now you've lost it. How will we make it work?) And these kinds of computers should be available wherever you are. On walls, on coffee tables, in cars and trucks, and on and on, in places where you don't need a desk or outlet or ethernet or power cable or ergonomic chair or a place where you can put a big screen.

My real struggle is with why do we have no designers out there who are able to make the big bulky desktop, white or black versions of "Computers" go away? The mind boggles. I understand that the general public has come to understand the computer as one thing and is generally slow to adapt to new ways, but dang we've had computers around a long time. Something should have been done by now.

And so last week we saw a strong, somewhat arrogant company step up and produce kinda, sorta what I've been waiting for in terms of computers. Apple has come up with a computer format that is all new, and I believe exactly where personal computing needs to go in the future. The iPad, (Turns and spits.) They have removed the technological wall between the user and the computer.

Proof of that would be that my Grandmother, if she were still around, could use it and it wouldn't need tweaking or rebooting, drivers or setup or you name it. Within minutes she would have figured it out and been off into the world of personal computing.

To be able to remove the wall that stands between people and personal computing is a very powerful step in the evolution of computers and people. To be able to integrate them more easily into life and work will make the work that we do, seamless. It may also help equalize the classes of those who know how to get email or find out how the sun works or watch a movie or record your family history, and those who do not. Maybe this style of computer will be more affordable to produce so that even those with less income will see a day when they can participate in the information age too.

Aside from the name, this new model of computer gives me a good deal of hope for the future of personal computing and the technological age. This is the direction the whole area needs to move in.

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Of course it's good to remember what happened the last time humanity wanted to know it all and so we took the apple and consumed it. Things haven't been the same since.

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Comments

  1. I concur, as I respond using my iPod.

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  2. But this form of computing has been around for a long time, as I realised in conversation with Fernando Gros. I was using a Palm back in 2001 that let me input in handwriting, run apps just by touching the screen. True, it couldn't connect wirelessly then, although they solved that one with the next generation (the Treo IIRC) that could send and receive emails through GRPS. The screen was small and mono (battery life 2 weeks +!) because that was as far as things had been developed nearly 10 years ago.

    My biggest concern with the pad is that they've focussed on content delivery, rather than creativity by the user: it's designed to be a portable media player with wireless and a decent screen, rather than a natural step forward from a netbook or what a Palm might have become. Guess we'll have to wait and see. The arrogant company has done some truly great and innovative things in the past, so let's hope they have could again.

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  3. I think Toni's on the right lines, this is more a device for consuming than producing but then my experience with my netbook has been much the same and it works. Its nice being able to sit on the sofa with wifey and read whatever rather than be closed off in the study.

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  4. I too was running a small ipaq back in "The Day" but that was just too small and too counterintuitive for regular guy to use. And true, no internet on it and consumption on it was a stress because of the size or format issues. This ipad thing looks bigger and doesn't require a nerd level 7 to use.

    I agree about the consuming product thing and I'm hopeful that that can be enlarged in time with apps and adaptations to the thing.

    The keyboard seems to be a descent size, no camera yet but that will come. I wonder how long it will take before it has a very acceptable app for making music. Think five moving fingers on the screen all moving and making sounds…

    It is to include iphoto and a few other bits of limited creative software, probably just enough to be interesting but frustrating for us who know how to go to the back ends of computers.

    I agree though, I think that initially it will be about consumption. Newspapers, maybe books, lectures, tunes, videos, radio, etc.

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  5. Your comment on the iPaq (wonder if Apple considered using that one?) is interesting, because the palm ticked all the right boxes about being intuitive in the way that the early Macintosh (C1990) did.

    My *impression* is that the iPad is significantly less powerful than most of the food grade netbooks out there, and while it may be able to run iphoto, that app is too limited (it can't even resize in a controlled fashion). But 3rd party creators have made some surprising apps for the iPhone, so maybe they'll step up to fill the gaps in Apple's walls and it will be a viable proposition after all.

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  6. Now if they'd make a ruggedized version that can be used outdoors at minus 20 C, it would have potential for collecting forestry field data.
    Electronic field data collection has been around for a long time, but forest technicians who are used to paper tally forms are resistant to making the change.

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