It somehow seemed fitting that I would write my review of the iPad on the iPad itself. That is precisely what I am doing using the Pages application (if you want to see the nice looking product with pictures, click here and download the pdf). And I have to tell you that while it is no keyboard, my typing speed is just as fast as usual. For anything short this is great. What is more the auto-correct options work like a dream.
But I digress. Before continuing, an admission. Had Apple put on sale today an undisclosed item for $699 (which is what I paid for this) I would likely have bought it. Not a great strategy for an economist but that is how much faith I hold in Apple’s reputation at the moment. Fortunately, I knew quite a bit about what I was getting although that isn’t quite the same as experiencing it.
So what is the bottom line after a few hours of playing with my new toy? You don’t need to buy one today but you will end up using something like it fairly soon. Why don’t you need one now? There aren’t that many apps. Yes I know that all of the 150,000 apps will work on the iPad but unless they are optimised the scaling up doesn’t cut it. Fortunately, 1,000 odd apps are iPad ready but chances are your favourite apps aren’t and the ones that are don’t work the way you are used to. So if playing games is your main use for an iPhone or you just want to know what restaurant to eat at, no need to rush.
However, there is one group of people who will fall in love with this instantly: people who like to read. I’m sure you are thinking at this point, oh yes, eBooks. Now it is true that that is great benefit. What is more you are not tied to Apple’s iBooks. It is beautiful and there will be a future fight but there aren’t many titles on it at present. The booker reader of choice remains Amazon’s Kindle which has it’s own free iPad app that puts the actual Kindle to shame. Yes, the battery life is lower but it is far more book like.
Since Steve Jobs famously claimed two years ago that no one actually read anymore, it has been clear to all that reading is at an all time high. It is just that people read stuff on the web, blogs or emails rather than books and magazines. So much more of the day is spent reading. But it is completely unnatural. People who claim to hate the idea of electronic books spend most of their day hunched over a laptop or bolt upright at a computer screen. But the natural position for reading is reclined. Maybe you could do this with an iPhone but let’s face it, for anything serious a larger screen is required.
The iPad makes reclined reading possible again. This will be true for web browsing but also for emails as well. Once you have tried it you won’t be able to return to the standard computer for your reading needs.
As an academic, the tools are there for the iPad on Day One. The fabulous program, Papers, that collects all of your PDFs and organises them is there on the iPad. There is simply no need to print anything. We professors will find the idea of carrying around our filing cabinets irresistible and Deans, once they work it out, will love the idea of smaller offices.
As a parent, I can see even more potential just around the corner. The few children’s books ported to the iPad explode with colour and interactivity. This is as true of Dr Seuss as it is of the wonderful book, The Elements, which just falls short of letting you feel each individual one. There is unlikely to be any substitute. And just wait to see what it does to comics.
The killer app of the iPad is reading. And the amazing thing is it has so much more and also so much more yet to be done. It will define a part of our existence into the foreseeable future.