Sunday, March 27, 2011

Giving In: Adopting the iPad Post-Revolution

OK, so I am converted. I have been an iPhone user for a long time and an iMac user (at work) for about a year now. Even with all of that, which might seem like I had adopted the Cult of Steve, I resisted the iPad. At $500 minimum, I felt like there was no way the device which would surely be replaced in a year or two (not exactly a prediction, I know, given that I know the iPad 2 is out now and selling like crazy) could be valuable enough to meet the price point in my mind.

So I started developing in HTML5 to target mobile (specifically) and, wouldn't you know it, I need to test on the old iPad to make sure it will work for the physicians that requested this. Many people commented that the arrival of the iPad at my desk was not met with the sort of excited unwrapping that they had expected. Instead, it sat on my desk for an hour before I finally looked it over and took it out.

After poking about a bit, I noticed that it was a little more than the "giant iPod Touch" that I had first  presumed from my limited exposure and comments online. While it is true that the iOS (the operating system that runs on all of Apple's "i-Devices" such as iPod, iPhone, and iPad) is treated as a single code-base of sorts for the purposes of releases, it is worth noting that the applications (almost without exception) behave differently on the larger form factor than on the iPhone. Pretty nifty, but not enough to sway me to think I have to have one of these.

The real test came a few days later when I found myself in a crowded bar in Noblesville, IN. I finally met up with my good friend Dan and we began to talk shop. I was taking notes as we brainstormed on a project we have been working on together using the iPad. It was a big leap for me to bring this device instead of the netbook that I strongly felt I needed to bring. Even with the reduced keyboard width, the netbook has a hardware keyboard and a touch-pad mouse area built into it that are familiar and mostly comfortable.

As a technologist, I am highly accustomed to making excuses for devices and software that are fairly cutting-edge. With that in mind, I fully expected significant errors - at least as many as typing on the netbook keyboard - to plague me as I tried to keep up withe the fast paced discussion. When I opened up the new note and began to type onto the screen of the iPad, I was in disbelief. The multitouch capabilities of the screen kept up with my keystrokes with ease and I felt like I was doing better on the flat, virtual keyboard with no tactile response than I normally do with my netbook or even, to some degree, the wireless keyboard I use with my iMac.

OK, now it had my attention. Over the two days that followed, I continued to discover that this paper-sized device could truly revolutionize the way I work. At meetings, I would continue to take notes, but could do so digitally without starting from paper. I could continue to have my email with me (as I do on my iPhone) but with a much better view and the odd looks you get any time you whip your phone out in a meeting ("He's just checking his text messages, I bet...").

In a week, I have converted. I now am craving the touch of an iPad 2 (go big or go home!) both in the home and at work. I will definitely have to give into this and the clock is ticking.

One final word for the unconvinced:  think about picking up a standard tripod attachment that connects to the iPad and/or the iPhone. With HD recording and great photos, how great would it be to put the GB of storage to good work on your iPad 2 or iPhone 4 during your child's birthday party or special family event. Forget looking at the 2" LCD screens prevalent in function-specific camcorders. Imagine looking at the entire screen of the iPad 2 while taking in the event. And coupled with iMovie, magic can happen without even synchronizing to your PC or Mac.

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