Well, the Apple tablet is finally here. Announced yesterday, the new iPad is, according to Apple’s own trumpet, their “most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price”.
The guesses i made yesterday were mostly off1 but, in hindsight, only because i’d convinced myself there’d be 3g operator subsidies affecting the pricing (which there aren’t). Had i gone with my gut instinct, i’d have stuck my neck out and said there’d be a wifi only model at a surprisingly low price. Turns out the iPod touch was a good clue to iPad pricing.
Anyway, the actual device looks great – and is priced very reasonably for an Apple product (i’m assuming $499 works out at something like £349 – no official word yet though). Honestly though, I’m not tempted. Much like when i saw the iPod and iPhone launches – i think it’s cool tech, but not for me. Yet.
A few of my immediate reservations about the iPad…
Apps. The iPad will apparently run “almost all” apps currently in the App Store. But those iPhone/iPod-sized apps look awkwardly small on such a large screen – or awkwardly stretched if you make them fullscreen. Sure developers will be fervently scrambling to make iPad compatible versions of their programs but i struggle to see how apps can be designed to work well on both screens. Something like Tweetie looks great on both iPhone and Mac OSX, but you certainly don’t use it in fullscreen on the Mac – why would you want to on the iPad? Also, take Facebook – it works well as an app for the iPhone because it’s more convenient than trying to view the full FB site on an iPhone screen. Yet on the iPad the FB site will look fine. No need for an app. I suspect we’ll end up seeing Apps labelled iPhone-only and iPad-only.
Keyboard. The on-screen keyboard entry requires it to be resting on your knee, a table or whatever surface. This seems a very un-Apple-like solution to me. I had hoped Apple would have something smarter – although the device almost certainly wouldn’t have retailed for $499 if it had.
iBooks. The iPad’s eBook-reader iBooks is US-only at the moment. Why?! I hope this is just a case of deals not been finalised in Europe in time for the launch announcement. Also, will we see a Mac version of the iBooks? Steve said “everything” sync’d with your Mac… but Books weren’t in the list on screen.
But all this is not to say the device will be a flop. There are already many, many very vocal naysayers… but i just don’t think they get it. The iPad is a casual device. A device to use when you’re vegetating on the sofa. This is a device aimed at those people whose imaginations were grabbed by O2’s Joggler and the like. Sure Apple’s device isn’t photo-frame-small and costs a lot more than £150 …but it’s that same market.
Let me stop here and suggest you read this post by Chuq Von Rospach who lays it all out much more clearly.
Update: Oh, and regarding my hopes that the tablet announcement might give us some indicator of what hardware and software changes we’ll see on the next iPhone… Gunned down. There’s that chance that the A4 chip (or some other Apple silicon) will make it into the next iPhone, but it’s far simpler to say that Apple gave away nothing yesterday.
Including my assumption that Apple wouldn’t ever reveal internal specs beyond storage capacity. In addition to the storage capacities, they were quite boastful (and continue to be) about the “A4” processor in the iPad, which is of their own design (presumably created by the PA Semi intake). This was very surprising and an interesting revelation. Will we see more Apple-designed chips appearing soon? Perhaps in the iPhone? ↩