The wait is over & its finally here. If you were expecting it to heal the world, stop global warming & bring world peace, you would be sorely disappointed. But if you were a realist and just wanted a superior tablet device, you would be more than happy with the result. In fact, if you were reading my blog and saw the “10 predicted features” entry, you would fall in the later category since I almost hit the nail on its head with that one (and I am not being smug about it).
However, I am sure you have checked out the keynote on the apple website and gone through the reviews on the web and already have formed a liking or disliking to the device. So before starting out, let me call out a few not so obvious things which would perhaps provide a different perspective (in its favor):
- The Ipad is “ALSO” a jumbo ipod touch: Of course, it can run all our ipod touch apps, but it does a lot more.
- The Ipad is the first tablet device that has come out from Apple’s steed. Its just the first in the line of many more to come. Remember when iphone came out? There was no app store and it just ran a couple dozen apps.
- The Ipad runs a modified version of Iphone OS 3.2. So, when iphone OS is upgraded to 4.0 (with multi tasking support, UI enhancement etc.), in all probability, so will the OS on Ipad.
Here is a high level lowdown on features:
- “There is an app for that (Ipad)”: Yes, all your apps run on the Ipad too. All 140K of them. That’s a huge headstart for Ipad. There are so many apps (esp. text based like stanza), that would benefit from its larger form factor (screen). And games look great on it too.
- Beyond ipod touch Apps: There is a custom SDK for Ipad and I think Apple gave a good preview of “what can be”. The iWork App was a great example of how some of the iMac s/w will be customized to run on Ipad. The customized mail/photo & you tube apps were also great. So was the NYT app. The possibilities are endless as we saw with the explosion of apps on iphone/touch.
- The iBook: Though, I was not overly impressed with the iBook software, Ipad is definitely a better e-book reader than iphone or standalone e readers. I will be very excited to run stanza and other 3rd party e-reader apps (that also provide Free Books).
- The Hardware: The high-resolution, 9.7 inch LED-backlit, IPS display, .5 inch thin, 1.5 pounds, Wifi, 3G , sleek, cool, star trekkish … Need I say more ? And a keyboard with dock !!! Watch out for 3rd party h/w accessories (like a small webcam that attached to the 9-pin :)). And the screen is great for watching movies !!!
- The variety: There are 6 models available – from as low as $499 to $829. No dearth of choice here.
But, what’s missing?
- No multi tasking, no flash support, no in built file management: These are the things that reviewers and critics have been shouting about all day. One thing they don’t realize is that all these features will probably be slowly enabled with OS upgrades (to the iphone / ipad).
- No Camera: This is a pretty glaring miss but I am sure Apple knew that and they did not take the decision lightly. I am assuming hardware integration complexities or deadline for TTM (time to market) and hoping that its not just a product sustainability tactic (what to put in the next version).
The biggest nemesis of Ipad is ironically apple’s own iphone/ipod touch. There are many of you who are thinking – “I got my iphone/touch and it can do the same things. Why do I need to buy an Ipad”. Well, wether you want to admit it or not, iphone(or touch) has its limitations (blasphemy!! you say.). But things like reading a book, watching a movie with someone or plain browsing a complex structured site would be much much better experience on the 9.7 inch screen of Ipad. And for a starting price of $499, its a great alternative to e-readers / personal media devices / even ipod.
Remember reading about the first Computer ? It was perhaps as big as a room and needed rocket scientists to operate. Now compare that to the UMPCs of today or even smartphones. Get the analogy? No? Think about the first gen ipod and then think about ipod touch. Perhaps got it now?
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” (A Chinese Proverb). The Ipad is an important step in the right direction at the right time. However, its not a small step by any means. It has already stimulated the tablet segment and compelled competitors to invest billions in trying to build a better tablet. And something will come out of that.
So, come 2050, people will look back and definitely mark the introduction of this device as the game changer.