Adam Bird

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Thursday, 28 January 2010

iPad or iPooed? An Explanation

Ipod Screenshot

My Facebook status read this morning "iPad or iPooed? Feel it's more of a nice to have, rather than a must have..." and have since felt a certain need to elaborate. Firstly, just what the hell am I talking about? Well, if you don't know already, Apple have launched a new product, named the iPad, which prior to yesterday's announcement was the stuff of online legend, myth and unfathomable hype. Paddy Power even ran a book so you could bet upon the new devices name.

The iPad, in short is a new, larger iPod touch, incorporating all of the features you would expect with the iPod touch, including being able to run most, if not all of the applications from the iTunes store, play music, store photos, browse the web and use the very useful mapping application. It's video playback mode has been enhanced meaning that you can play HD video content upon the device as well as a new(ish) application which allows you to download and read e-books, as you would a normal book, including animated page turns and bookmarking.

Now yes, I am a geek, in that technology gets the pulse racing and revolutionary bits of kit are to me like candy is for a baby, but I didn't get the same kind of drop jawed feeling as I did way back in 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world.

There are many, other geeky technology enthusiasts who will salivate over the prospect of getting their hands upon the iPad, it won't be just those, many "mainstream" people will be excited over the prospect of owning one, we will eventually be seeing them all over the place, at work, on trains and in Starbucks. Apple have produced another product that will do well, but I won't be racing out and heading the queue at Bluewater. Here's why.

Firstly, I have my iPhone, I can download games, apps, browse the internet and everything the iPad does from there, I can download books,  I love reading, I love books, but half the fun of reading is the multi-sensory experience of opening a new novel for the first time or the smell of reading a book from the library, equally an old book found in a second hand bookstore comes with its own unique, musty smell, that cannot be replicated on a digital device.

Likewise, CD's and DVD's are better when they come with packaging, the artwork, the bonus footage, all missing in digital formats. My CD's are already backed up on my PC and iPod, I have my most listened to stuff on my iPhone for when I'm on the train, or travelling. I do purchase stuff from iTunes, we all do, but it's impulsive, hopefully free or something that you may not be bothered to look for in HMV. If I want to watch a movie, or TV show, I watch it on TV! The iPad screen may well be 10"s big, bigger than the iPhone, but hell, if you have a 50" TV sitting at home why would you want go smaller?

The iPad has some apps for productivity, but if I am going to do any work that's worthwhile, I'm going to do it from the office or home PC's. That's my caveat, I don't work on public transport, people annoy me that do. I don't work in Starbucks, I don't like Starbucks.

Gaming has been improved on the iPad they say, I play games on my iPhone when I'm on the go, I play games on the PS3 when I'm at home. Is the iPad a PS3/Will/Xbox game-breaker. No.

I may sound rather cynical, or dismissive, but as I said, this is a good product for Apple, it holds a lot of promise. Best of all, it isn't excessively priced.  What is holding it back more than anything, and possibly the biggest reason why I won't get one straight away is the fact that it does not have multi-user support. 

A device like this would be a perfect "family" toy.  *We all have our own iPhones with our own personal music, photos, games etc, but the iPad, perfect around the house, we can sign in independently and do whatever we need to do, whether I am watching a movie whilst Steph's watching some soap on TV, or Oliver is learning his times tables whilst Steph and I watch the news. It is entirely unrealistic and damn right unpractical to imaging a 2.4 family all owning iPhone's and matching iPad devices!

Still, as a web developer working in a creative department Apple have indeed set us a challenge! The iPad with it's SDK has opened a whole new platform ripe for innovation. Someone has the opportunity to produce applications that take this device from being a nice to have, to a must have. That's the problem. The iPhone is all very nice, very techy, has an amazing interface, plays games, music. But it's only real worthwhile use is to make phone calls! All the rest is bells and whistles, entertainment for entertainment sake. Millions of apps are available in the app store, but how many of those are actually useful? Serve as daily tools in your day-to-day lives? Indeed it's a challenge, many people will and readily accept. Until then I think I will stick to my simple iPhone.

* This is a fictitious scenario. Oliver does not have an iPhone and won't - for a long while.
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