the iPad

A few months ago, I wrote:

“What an amazingly cool toy.  I don’t see its valuable application in my life, but the iPad I was playing with is owned by an attorney who travels extensively and rides public transportation.  She’s loving it.  Better web surfing than the iPhone, the ability to play good games, nice e-reading capabilities.  I get it, for her life.  I also was a bit enthralled by the touch interface on the larger screen.  As an iPhone user, I’m familiar with Apple’s touch interface, but the up-scaling on size with the iPad makes it feel very, very different.  I suspect that this device, and its ilk, will provoke a new wave of design for user interfaces, and a new style of interacting with the technology.  DOS-type text-based interface –> graphical mouse-based interface –> touch-based tablet interface.  It has the potential to be the next interface revolution.”

I now have an iPad.  The guys in campus computing bought two, and gave one to the Libraries.  Or, rather, to me, but I’m being magnanimous and sharing it with anyone who wants to play, not that anyone’s taken me up on that yet.  Except when I pull it out in meetings.  I put it on the table, turn it on, and *wham*, I have an audience.  “Is that an iPad? Do you like it? What’s it do? Can I….?” The last is always accompanied by a hesitant reaching out to touch it.  I always pass it over, and then wait for a while until it comes back to me.  And it always takes a while.  People are entranced by the thing.

So I have an iPad, and also, I was wrong.  I said I didn’t see its valuable application in my life.  I clearly did not see how much I would like, in my personal life, reading ebooks in bed at night, or watching tv in my lap, or playing Labyrinth 2, or using Kayak to find flights… I also did not see how much I would value, in my professional life, using apps like GoodReader to review documents during meetings, using Toodledo (ye gods, what a bad name) to manage my to-do list, and using Simplenote for taking meeting notes.  Or how much I would find pleasure in trying out as many reader apps as I can find, seeing which ones might work best as ereaders for textbook type materials, trying apps like iStudiez Pro to envision how students might use these as productivity devices, using Stickyboard and Huddle and Dropbox and AirSharing to think about collaboration, fiddling with TweetDeck and textPlus and Meebo and thinking about Reference and outreach…

This thing is cool.  I underestimated it.  It’s a big iPhone, yes — but the size makes it more than just an expansion on that tech.  It’s different.  It’s better.  I’m very, very intrigued.

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