Apple launched the iPad yesterday. If you don’t know what it is you’re probably reading the wrong blog.
As usual people are saying “Meh, it’s a big iPhone, It won’t do Flash, and it won’t multitask”. This sort of thing always happens when Apple launch a new product.
I think what these people are failing to see is that the majority of iPhone/iPad/mobile users probably don’t even know what “multitasking” is. They can probably only think about the one application they’re running at that very moment. Multitasking to these people would mean running out of processor power and memory, not realising it’s because they have 3 apps churning away doing their thing and only noticing the impact to the experience of the one app they’re focussing on right then.
Multitasking would introduce so many levels of complexity they clearly designed it out of the iPhone/iPod/iPad experience.
The iPhone can and does fetch data whilst other apps are running which means things like your email is up to date and you can do “stuff” whilst you’re downloading new apps and iPad almost certainly does the same thing. I really think that’s all the average person needs and If you say you need more than that then it’s obvious the iPad isn’t for you. There’s the 13” Macbook or Macbook Pro which will more than likely do everything you need to do and are still very portable.
What’s really cool is that the demo for the NY Times iPad app showed what can be done with content as feeds rather than content delivered as websites. The bulk of it would be installed as part of the app meaning it’s only the content that needs to be downloaded and the experience can be so much more fluid and rich. The current Guardian iPhone app is great, but the NY Times one with it’s embedded video and hooks into the guts of the iPad’s processor and OS looks set to completely change the game of digital news publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s the beginning of the end for websites but I’m really excited to see what other people come up with in the near future.
Flash is cool, but it’s really such a small part of the web experience that I really don’t think it’ll be missed that much (sorry, you can wait for me after school if you want to beat me up). The days of the fully immersive flash website are over for all but the tackiest sites and it’s now only really being used for interesting data visualisations, interactive narrative or rich media modules that can be easily done with HTML and some JS skills.
If anything I think the fact iPad doesn’t support Flash will begin to discourage clients and accounts teams blindly requesting Flash solutions to problems that can be solved in more open and (arguably) accessible ways. The last stronghold of Flash is video players and HTML5 solves that with the <video> tag and open video formats. I believe Google’s Chrome Frame is part of a strategy to drop Flash from Youtube in the long run. If you’re embedding video in an iPad app you can use native Quicktime (in HD if you like) which solves the problem nicely too.
Flash ads. Meh.
Then there’s games. Flash games have been ported to run on iPhones with varying levels of success. It’s entirely possible though and it’s about learning how to do it well.
The fact that you can flip it over and show people what’s on your screen in a natural, fluid way is amazing. More important than you might think. It suddenly makes the iPad a more social device. The iPad is something that can be passed around easily and used to show people things meaning it’s now a fluid part of a group computing experience - and that can only be a good thing.
I think people that are moaning or criticising the iPad on it’s technical merit may be missing the point. Apple have created a product that dissolves into natural behaviour and if you ask me I’d say that’s what’s so beautiful about it.
That said, I do think it should have GPS and a screen side video camera.