There has been no end of coverage of the new Apple iPad, and I suppose I’m just contributing to the noise here, but that’s the point of a blog: I can write this and if no one reads it, well, no trees will fall in the forest.
But I’m not going to say who the iPad is for, or if it will revolutionise media or computers or communication. I’m just going to tell you about how I plan to use mine, when I get it (but we all know about best laid plans…).
In no particular order, here’s how I will use it. It will be a photo and video viewer, using the optional camera kit. As a photographer and now videographer, playing back images on the screens which came with the camera is good but not great. You can’t really check focus, exposure is a bit hit-and-miss and compsition looks different on a 3-inch screen compared to a big one. The iPad’s screen is actually bigger than the final use of many images, so I’m sure it will be a big benefit. It’s certainly not the giant leap forward moving from film to digital represented, but I still feel it’s significant.
The iPad will be my travel computer. I regularly travel for motorcycle launches and need to bring back written articles: the iPad, especially when combined with a bluetooth keyboard, will be fine for writing these stories. Apple has shown a word processor, Pages, which will be a US$10 download. I can afford that. The iPad will also do email and web browsing, of course, so that will keep me in touch with the world. I’m hoping it will tether with my iPhone for connectivity through the 3G mobile phone system so I don’t always have to have a Wi-Fi network available… I really don’t want to buy the 3G-equipped version of the iPad and have yet another data plan to pay for, although being unlocked and month-by-month I suppose it won’t be too bad.
It will be frustrating being in a hotel with broadband available via an ethernet cable which won’t, of course, connect to an iPad. For the same reasons the iPad is great for business trips, it will be good on holidays, too. Lighter, easier to pack and carry than a laptop with most of the functionality, it will be handy to have.
The iPad will be the machine I will usually carry between office and home. I have this fantasy I might actually start riding a motorcycle between home and office occasionally (something usually difficult because I pick up my two kids from school after work) and a $750 iPad weighing 750 grams rather than a laptop at 3kg (and which cost $4000) is a much more attractive proposition. I rarely need a computer at home with more power than an iPad and there’s a number of machines there, anyway.
At home I’ll use the iPad to read, maybe listen (iPods and iPhones are probably better for the latter), and to communicate. I’m not a big user of FaceBook, but I can see me uploading more pictures to the site with an iPad rather than a laptop, mainly because I think the process will be more seamless. I will use the iPad for web surfing (something I do quite a lot of in my job) and email at home.
I can also see the TV in the bedroom going, becoming unnecessary. It’s only used about once a month anyway, and I can sit an iPad on my knees. Then again, ripping a DVD takes quite a bit of time, especially compared to popping one into the player under the TV. But there may also be a way to watch a DVD on the iPad with the disc actually in the Mac Mini in the loungeroom…
Then there’s the apps. I can see the iPad becoming an adjunct to my workstation in the office (laptop, second screen, keyboard and mouse). Instead of bouncing from program to program, I may use the iPad to check stuff online, do calculations etc. I already often do this, reaching for a conventional old calculator rather than firing up the very powerful one built into my Mac (and just a moment ago I used Appbox to work out the metric equivalent to the 1.5 pounds Apple is quoting the iPad’s weight). Screen real estate is like horsepower: too much is never enough.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one using my iPad. The kids love playing with iPhones, and I’m sure the iPad will be even more attractive. There’s a plethora of games available for the iPhone and many more – and expanded versions of existing games – will come to the iPad. They, and the movies, will be great for keeping kids occupied during long journeys (which they believe is anything further than their local school).
I’m also hoping to read magazines on the iPad. Sports Illustrated demonstrated its ideas on how we can consume media on a device like the iPad, and it’s a much richer, more interactive and immersive experience than simply reading a magazine. I’m hoping for versions of National Geographic, Life, Time, Australian Geographic, MacWorld, ProPhoto, Crikey, The Monthly and lots more all to be available on the iPad – and I’m even happy to pay for the content, something people in general (including myself) are reluctant to do on the web. I feel quality media is in decline because people aren’t willing to pay for it in its current forms. Web stories are typically poorly researched, written to ridiculously tight deadlines, are short and shallow and usually aren’t worth the small amount of time it takes to read them.
Esquire on my iPhone is much better. The same content on an iPad would be an even better experience, because the images would be displayed better, the designer would have more scope and the words would be easier to read.
In the short term Apple seems more interested in taking on Amazon’s kindle rather than re-inventing the magazine, but I think they will get around to other forms of media soon enough.
That’s how I plan to use my iPad. It won’t replace my MacBook Pro in my office, but it might just move me off the dining room table of an evening and onto a couch, and I know where I’d rather be.