This morning, my son and daughter were both excited. It will be a half day at school, which mean they will have a bit of free time to play before evening duties kick in. The other thing that made my son jump for joy was the fact that he would be out of school in time for the official announcement on Apple’s latest product, the strangely named iPad. I had to break my son’s spirit a bit as I will not be home to pick him up at the time of the announcement, however he will get a different bedtime story tonight. A story filled with confusion and lost opportunities.
Speaking of the announcement, I had to quickly free my schedule so that my lunch hour could be devoted to a play-by-play from Engadget. Heck I was willing to forgo my daily run for this, that’s huge. So I nuked my lunch and planted myself in front of my laptop as the announcement began. Here is a bulleted summary:
- 9.7″ inch glass surface with a unibody (think Macbook) design
- Thicker than the iPhone but only slightly
- It is running the latest build of the iPhone OS allowing virtually all apps to run
- 802.11n or 3G support
- 16, 32, 64 GB versions
- Compass, accelerometer, on screen keyboard (that last one kind of sucks)
Now here is what it DOES NOT HAVE:
- Camera – oh Apple missed a HUGE opportunity here
- Handwriting – Keyboard, seriously that’s the best you can do?
- Multi-tasking – Will I have to jailbreak this too (uh, oh did I just admit I will buy one?)
- Adobe FLASH – You have to be kidding me. NO FLASH SUPPORT?
The rest of this post will break down why the four elements listed above are so important and why the iPad will struggle against joining other confused products like the Apple TV or the Mac Cube.
Confusion settles in
So here is where I am confused. Steve Jobs claim this product will fit perfectly between the iPhone and the Macbook series and have a unique identity. *sigh* Where do I start? Ok first off, it is like a large characture of a love child between the iPhone and a Macbook. There is the familiar home button yet the bezel and the back of the device is similar to framing of a Macbook screen. The OS visuals is iPhone apps-like but the dock is more like OS X. The one thing this poor creation is missing, the one element that is found in both the Macbook and iPhone, is a camera!
Importance of a camera
With the launch of the iPhone 3Gs, the necessary hardware was in place to take advantage of augmented reality, a compass and auto-focus camera. The only limitation was the amount of information that could be displayed on the small iPhone screen. The iPad (man that just does not float off the tongue very well) had the opportunity to provide the necessary screen space to really open up a virtual world where we would not have to sacrifice content due to space and even apply layers effectively. A Camera could give developers the opportunity to create applications that allow users to use their fingers to be really creative! There is enough screen space to do layouts and large movements, think of a fashion designer, or an artist, or a photographer. Let us not forget the obvious missed opportunity of using ichat/video conferencing. That alone hurts the most.
Handwriting is key
Come on Apple, a bigger iPhone keyboard? I could almost accept that given the fact this device had a vision being an iphone (minus the phone) + killer ebook reader. But you demonstrated iWork. Working with a spreadsheet on a tablet. Heck it looks like you cannot do extended typing do to the fact that the back of the device is curved! Plus can you imagine typing on this? The angles to hold this is all wrong. Handwriting would have succeed here and iWork is not necessary. iWork should be done on the Macbook. Lay this device flat and write the way you were taught in elementary, notes with your scribbles and drawings to match. That alone will give the iPad the unique identity it desperately needs to differentiate itself from the iPhone and the Macbook.
Netbooks can multi-task
Steve Jobs dissed the netbook claiming the product is under-powered and not practical, yet even the lowly netbook can run Pandora in the background while you surf the web. I understand why multi-tasking should not be part of the iPhone due to the need that the phone aspect of the device must be able to function at the end of the day (though I enjoy that function on my jailbroken iPhone). But the iPad is not an iPhone and thus should be allowed to do more than one thing at a time. Seriously my Sony Reader allows me to listen to music while I read! Multi-tasking should be a given at this point of the Apple’s game, yet it is not.
Flash or not to flash, we got HTML v5
One of the key elements of iPad (man that word really sucks) is how wonderful the web experience will be, yet every site that was visited had glaring white space of missing Flash elements. I know Apple does not like Flash, but you cannot deny the consensus of the web community. Flash is prevalent and to fully enjoy the web experience, must be supported. I know mobile Safari supports HTML 5 and thus the canvas tag may make this argument irrelevant, but that day is not today. Apple also have to be careful driving support in a particular direction, look where it got them with Google Voice and Google’s HTML 5 web app to bypass Apple’s app approval process.
What is the iPad?
I do not understand where the iPad stands with other Apple products and that is dangerous. Apple’s key to success is that when you touch any of their devices, you just get it. I do not get the iPad. It may be a Amazon Kindle killer but is that all it should do? When you look at the iPhone, you get it. Each app does a specific function and does it well. iPad runs iPhone apps but…a bigger screen with the same limitations AND less features than the iPhone? I am so confused. Oh my kids are waiting for their bedtime stories. It is time for me to confuse them as well. Good night.