Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

My brother came across a great analogy the other day in response to the crowds who are calling the iPad nothing more than a big iPod Touch: The iPad is as much a big iPod Touch as a swimming pool is a big bath.

Sure, it’s funny. But it’s actually quite a useful analogy to unpack the mindset behind some of the iPad’s dissenters. So let’s interrogate it a little. What is wrong with calling a swimming pool a big bath? What do we fail to see if we think of a swimming pool as a big bath? The answer is that we fail to see what becomes possible to us in a swimming pool.

Many critics are asking the question, “What does the iPad replace?” In doing so, they are assuming that the iPad is an oversize iPod Touch or an underpowered laptop and so they fail to see what the iPad makes possible.

So just what does the iPad make possible? Well, if the bath and swimming pool analogy can give us a clue, then we can probably expect a categorical difference in use between an iPod Touch and an iPad. After all, cleaning yourself in a bath is categorically different from exercising in a swimming pool. But then perhaps at this point, applying the analogy starts to be more facetious than useful, so I’ll just answer the question directly. The iPad creates a user experience that is closer to our natural behavior than anything before it. And that means it will usher in an era of technology that will reach deeper and further into our lives than anything before it. Put simply, the iPad makes it possible for people to harness the power of a computer with significantly less effort, leaving their minds free to do whatever it is they’re good at.

The chances are that if you’re reading this blog post, you’re not the kind of person who will benefit most from using an iPad. Even as I write this, I’m looking at a WordPress interface that many people I know would find intimidating. Alienating even. Not just the screen, but the entire device puts a distance between them and what they want to get done. The iPad narrows the gap.

So what questions should we be asking? If not, “What does the iPad replace?” then what? How about:

  • Where will the iPad be used where other devices are cumbersome?
  • Who might benefit from the iPad’s ability to deliver expert guidance in real time in the field?
  • What study processes could the iPad simplify for students?
  • How could a meeting be improved if the attendees all used iPads?

To all the developers who have turned their minds to asking questions like these, I commend you! To all those wondering what the iPad will replace, I implore you to challenge your assumptions and ask more interesting questions.

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