Last night at 8pm SA Standard Time about a billion geeks and I gathered around whatever Internet connected device we could lay our hands on and listened or watched someone else listen and then type up the launch of the mythical Apple Tablet, or the iPad as we must now learn to call it.
At the end of the presentation something strange happened, or rather didn’t happen. The world didn’t end, there was no heavenly host signing hallelujah and there was no shining light with a big voice proclaiming the second coming.
OK so maybe I exaggerate slightly, but in reality that was the only way that the lofty expectations of many of the Apple faithful were going to be satisfied.
To be brutally honest what we got was a large iPod touch with an option for 3G connectivity. Those people that thought they were going to get something that could run a full version of Mac OSX were so optimistic in their expectations they probably really believe that they are going to win the lottery this weekend.
The screen is 10-inches in size and that is exponentially larger than that on the iPhone or iPod touch and it is full multi-touch enabled. You can run any app from the app store, but only one a time, which when you consider that the iPad has a decent processor and a much larger battery you would have thought that Apple would have figured out how to allow multi-tasking. The only explanation I can come up with is that because it is running the iPhone OS it is bound by the same restrictions that irritate so many iPhone/iPod touch users.
I can probably think of a hundred other things that I would love to have on this kind of device, including using it for video calls.
This said the one thing that we should all be used to from Apple by now is that much of what makes the company successful is what the company leaves out of its devices, not what it puts into them. So there is no camera and it isn’t a phone, although I am sure that you could use Skype on it (lack of multitasking not withstanding).
What it is, in my opinion, is the best general-purpose portable content consumption device created to date. The TV will always be better for video, the Kindle is probably a better ebook reader, the iPod will always be better for music and the PC will always be better for surfing the Internet. The iPad, however, combines a set of this functionality into a single portable device that could probably meet the needs of most people that consume their media in digital format.
Granted you are locked into Apple’s little closed world and for many people this is simply unacceptable. I hope those people of this persuasion reading this article will have made it this far down and will keep the flames down to char-grill level instead of the usual incinerate.
What I will say is what I say to all my friends that ask me about the Apple vs Windows divide or the iPhone vs Nokia vs Android debate. Every person has a way of interacting with technology. Some people naturally drift towards Windows because it fits the way their minds work and some people drift towards Apple for the same reason.
The iPad is another one of those devices, if it fits the way you consume media then this could very well be an indispensible addition to you digital life. If not, then I apologise for the onslaught of hype that this has unleashed. Maybe you can think of it as a warm up for the madness of the World Cup in June.
New Apple iPad – do you agree with Ben?