There’s been a lot of chatter on the internets the iPad, the new, long-rumored tablet Apple announced yesterday. The most interesting part about the iPad for me was the user interface. The iPhone was revolutionary, in large part due to the multitouch interface. At the time, there was just nothing else like it. The iPad makes the same move, only in its large form factor.
I really liked the thought that went into the UI of the applications that were demoed. Previous tablet PCs have been clunky ports of a desktop OS. Even the new generation of tablets running Android look this way (more on that later). Apple approached this differently–if you haven’t seen it already, it’s worth watching Apple’s intro movie for the iPad. If you could use your computer on a touch-screen OS like this, you wouldn’t even miss a mouse.
From the movie, you can see the iPad isn’t simply a port of OSX with touch screen capability. Nor is it a port of the iPhone OS in terms of the UI. The apps themselves have been redesigned to be a touch interface for the larger form-factor and what you get is an elegant, well-designed OS. And from all early accounts from people that have actually spent time with the iPad, it works beautifully.
I immediately started to think, is this going to be the way we interact with our computers? (By then will they even be called “computers?”) The mouse was a great invention in bridging the gap between the user and the screen, but using your finger makes so much more sense.
Sure, the external keyboard and mouse won’t be replaced anytime soon, especially for people like me who work on a computer all day, but I believe there will come a day when touch-screen interfaces will have matured to the point where it is comparable and eventually replaces these old input devices.
Hit or Miss?
As to whether or not people will actually buy the iPad, who knows? This is new territory not only for Apple, but for the industry. If haven’t noticed, it seems like every major manufacturer has announced their own tablet recently, most running Andriod. The HP Slate, Viewsonic VTablet 101, Lenovo IdeaPad, and Dell’s unnamed tablet to cite a few.
The most successful device that I can think of that is in the same form factor is Amazon’s Kindle. I like Kevin Rose’s post which compares the iPad to the Kindle DX:
Kindle DX 9.7” – $489.00
1024×768 color display upgrade – $1.00
Internet browsing upgrade – $1.00
iPod w/16GB upgrade – $1.00
Run iPhone apps upgrade – $1.00
1Gz A4 processor upgrade – $1.00
H.264 720P HD video upgrade – $1.00
Bluetooth upgrade – $1.00
10hr battery upgrade – $1.00
Multi-touch display upgrade – $1.00
Digital compass/accelerometer – $1.00
Your cost: iPad $499.00
So true…Amazon is going to have to do something about that Kindle DX price point. When you put the Kindle side-by-side with the iPad, it looks like technology from 10 years ago:
There were plenty of mp3 players on the market before the iPod debuted and shook up–and popularized–the industry. The cell phone market was mature and flooded with handsets before the iPhone came in and shook up the (smartphone) industry. It will be interesting to see in the coming years if the iPad can do the same.