“A Computer for your fingers” – iTouched the iPad
There they were. Three iPads laying on the table, fully powered up, and waiting for someone to pick up and play with them. Here I was; there they were; it was a match made in heaven. So I picked one up and gave it a workout.
Here are some observations
- It’s a giant iPod Touch. I’ve had an iPod Touch for about a year. Picking up the iPad, the first thing that occurred to me was that this is a giant iPod Touch.
- It’s the right size. It feels like the right size – not too small; not too large. The screen size might be a bit deceptive. There is a fairly large black border around the edges of the iPad – so subtract that off of the viewing area of the screen.
- Fingers vs. Mouse. I never thought I would like using my fingers rather than a mouse. Why should I lift my entire hand up and touch things on the screen when I can make smaller movements with a mouse on a table? Well, here is the difference. If you have never used a device that can understand multi-point touch then you won’t realize the power of this. You can do a lot more things with your fingers than you can with a mouse. In fact, you can do with a thumb and index finger in one gesture what you could never do with a mouse.
- Gestures. The iPod Touch is too small to conformably read a web page. The iPad is about the right size. The ability to take your thumb and index or middle and make a “spreading gesture” will resize any page – text font size and image size. See next point.
- Scanning and reading large web pages. The ability to easily gesture to resize a web page allows one to easily scan web pages. A typical web page is generally designed to be viewed on a typical desktop monitor or laptop screen – much larger than the iPad screen. There is a lot of information on a web page. To easily gesture, using a single movement to move and resize a web page, allows one to scan headlines and then enlarge and focus on the article you want to read. Having used the iPod Touch with mult-point gesture, I was able to quickly navigate newspapers on the larger iPad with ease.
- Reading books. The iPad has a bookshelf application and would compete with the Kindle, Nook, Sony, and other book readers. The iPad is larger than any of the dedicated book readers and easier to read. So, if the iPad can do a ton of stuff plus read books, why would I buy a dedicated book reading appliance?
- Reading books II. While reading books on the iPad its easy to change the size of the font and brightness. This may appeal to people who struggle with small text in books. Using the iPad you can make the book text as large as you like. In addition, you can read books in landscape or portrait format. Just change the orientation of the iPad and the images adjusts to landscape or portrait as needed. To turn pages in any orientation just swipe your finger. Best of all, books have full text search. Need to find something in Ayn Rand’s 1,000+ page tome – Atlas Shrugged? No problem – use full text search.
The downside for reading web sites with the iPad is that it does not support all media types. So, for example, if you want to watch the videos on TED, you are out of luck. The inability to fully enjoy the web with all the media types detracts, from what would be, a great experience on the iPad.
Changing the Culture
I can remember watching sitcoms where there was frequently a scene where the family was eating breakfast and reading the morning newspaper. The iPad and similar devices may just eliminate, or facilitate the demise, of the newspaper from the family breakfast table.
Think about this. Why would I want to wait for a physical newspaper (dead tree edition) to be delivered to the house when I can grab the iPad and read the newspaper online? Dagwood, of Blondie and Dagwood got the local newspaper and read it at the breakfast table. Why just one newspaper? Why not a couple of newspapers? Or as many as you like to the extent that local and national newspapers put their content on-line.
The iPad is just the right size to grab and surf the internet at the breakfast table, on the sofa, in a chair, or any other place. It’s a matter of convenience. Sure, you could grab a netbook, or a laptop, turn it on and surf the web via the traditional keyboard and mouse metaphor. But the iPad is so much easier. It’s the right size, weight, and the multi-point touch capability for navigation makes it a very appealing device.
After I spent about 20 minutes playing with the iPad there was a gaggle of teenagers approaching the table of iPad demo units set out by Apple. The first of the four teenagers to get to the table was a girl. She picked up one of the iPads and asked “What this?” One of the kids, without a moment of thought said, “It’s a computer for your fingers“.
Companies spend tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of dollars on branding. A kid, without a moments thought came up with “A computer for your fingers” and nailed the differentiating feature of the iPad against netbooks, laptops, desktops, and every other computing device out there to date.
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