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iYawn or iCool?

The problem with the amount of hype that the release of a new Apple product creates is that it almost inevitably results in disappointment when the product itself is revealed. The hype machine (or reality distortion field) has been in overdrive recently regarding the new Apple tablet device which we now know is called the iPad. So does it live up to the hype?

Yes and no. There’s another one of my helpful answers which I can justify…

When I first saw the early commentary this morning and read through the specs I wasn’t hugely impressed. Some people were expecting a real innovation in the user interface hardware (maybe some sort of tactile feedback or proximity sensing) which we didn’t get. Others were expecting a built-in data projector and all sorts of other cool stuff which we also didn’t get (and realistically shouldn’t have expected) so I don’t think the hardware is truly revolutionary.

There isn’t even a camera (as far as I can see) and what’s the excuse for that? My Mac laptop has a camera, my iPhone has a camera, everything has a camera now. Why not the iPad too? Its just unbelievable!

But let’s get over that and see what it does have, instead of what it doesn’t. It is a light, thin, beautifully designed tablet computer running the finest touch operating system and incorporating a lot of very good quality (if conventional) hardware. There is also some very nice software (iWorks looks great) plus a huge library of existing iPhone apps. That’s impressive enough.

The thing that changed my mind was watching someone using the iPad. Like all Apple products the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There’s a synergy between the components that no one else can copy. So despite the device’s limitations its still a beautiful device and, even though I already have an Apple MacBook Pro 17 and an iPhone 3G I want an iPad too!

I might not get one straight away though, because there are some improvements I would like to see. First, I need that (forward facing) camera for video chat, etc. And second, I want multi-tasking! The current iPhone OS (3.1 on the phone and 3.2 on the iPad) only allows one program to run at a time (that’s not strictly true, but it looks that way to the user) and that is a limitation other phones don’t have. Its not a huge problem most of the time but it is a limitation I would like to see removed. But that will probably need to wait for iPhone OS 4.0.

Before I decide whether I think the iPad is a success or failure I will need to see how many are sold. No, I don’t really mean that, because that’s cheating. What I really want to do is use one to make sure that the user experience is as good as it looks in the videos. I suspect it will be and I suspect I’ll never buy another physical book. I also suspect Amazon might be a bit concerned about the future of the Kindle!

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