“For years we’ve all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the ‘average person’. I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.” -Speirs “Future Shock“
Since the iPad announcement a number of posts, comments, and articles appeared bashing iPad. Some include colorful language in titles like, “epic fail.” While the iPad may not be what everyone expected (it’s exactly what I expected,) some of the anti-iPad reasoning seems to be about clinging to old methods.
The iPad is not an iPod Touch, but familiarity of the interface improves understanding. If you have never tried an iPhone or iPod Touch, please borrow one and give the following a try:
- Photos: try swipe, pinch zoom, tilt
- USA Today app (free)
- Stanza (free) or Kindle for iPhone app
- Play a video
“These new devices allow ‘computing’ to get out of the way of what users really want to do: interact with data.” -Eaton, comment on “Flash, iPad, Standards” at Zeldman.com.
Common complaints about iPad
- Only 1 connector and it’s USB.
- No camera (future possibility.)
- No Adobe Flash support.
- Limited storage/don’t like copying files.
- It’s just a big iPod Touch.
- Not eInk.
- Doesn’t replace laptop.
- Where’s the innovation? Old netbooks do that.
- Phone/Nintendo DS/organizer has touch. Big deal.
- No multitasking.
My Short Response to Common iPad Complaints
- Wireless and sync. Reducing connector dependency is the goal.
- Camera might be nice for video conference, but phones and PCs do this.
- Adobe Flash must improve or watch something else take its place.
- Sync and streaming. You don’t need to carry everything with you.
- Not quite. Wait to see future apps.
- eInk isn’t ready yet. Needs faster refresh and color.
- iPad is not a PC replacement.
- Innovation brings the user closer to the content. See the two quotes above.
- Try an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. See the difference?
- Unnecessary for casual use, and we’ll see it in the future.
Now let’s look at some of the complaints in detail.
No Adobe Flash
This is a strong argument since Flash is well entrenched on the web. How many iPhone users complain? Many don’t miss it preferring apps instead. Flash consumes resources and sometimes crashes browsers. If Adobe addresses these issues, we may see it on the iPad. We may also see another solution, HTML5, or specialized apps may take over.
Old Habits Die Hard
Read the quote at the top of the page. Give it careful consideration. Not convinced? Read the entire “Future Shock” by Speirs.
People take comfort in the familiar. Before computers, most people didn’t know why they would want it until they tried it. Old habits die hard. General hardware and software hasn’t changed much in decades. We learn about file systems and complex hierarchies in order to use computers.
Big File Storage: Demanding enough storage for a copy of everything on every device surfaces from the chore of copying our music and movies to devices. We must understand file systems and capacities, and most devices make it difficult to copy. So many make a habit to copy everything and leave it.
Netbooks and Notebooks: They work like our desktops. The lid makes it difficult to carry and use and sometimes the field doesn’t offer a nice table to set it on. Short battery life limits portability. Many want a tablet without giving up the familiar interface, file system, and connectors. Many of us want our portable computers to do everything a desktop does. Some of us don’t want change.
Personally, I want a portable computer to be truly portable. I do most of my work sitting at a desk.
Computers require extensive knowledge. Even some of the self-proclaimed computer experts manage to get their operating systems mangled or overburdened by poor applications. So much technical skills are required in order to design software that often the user experience gets pushed aside. We end up with clunky software that requires hunting through menus using an absurd number of mouse clicks. These become habits and users learn to accept it.
This must end.
The goal of a computer is to remove the complexity. We have been going backwards in some cases. Many older office software products were faster and easier. We need to give control back to the user. As a software designer, I make this my personal quest.
The iPad may not be the computer some consumers want, but that doesn’t make it a failure. It may seem underwhelming. Major changes shock consumers, and products with too much change sell poorly. The iPad fills the gap between a dedicated computing system and a phone. Apple carefully steps in the right direction by making progressive changes to products already entrenched in the market. The future will bring new devices and better computers.
Why iPad? It’s a step in the right direction.
Will you buy an iPad or wait to see what the future brings?
What others are saying:
The eBook Test provides a list in “Must-Read Pro-iPad Posts.”
“The iPad isn’t what you think it is” at Mainly Thinking.
“Why I See The iPad As An Epic Ereader Fail” at Indie Author.
Lamarche of iPhone Development says, “for many people, a regular computer is both overkill and frustrating.” in “Same Ol’ Same Ol’…”
Chris Rawson on “Adobe speaks up about Flash on the iPad”
PC World: “iPad Study: The More You Know, The Less You Want One”
Ars Technica: “Survey tries quantifying iPad hype, suggests interest waning”
MarketWatch: “Disney CEO: iPad ‘could be a game changer’“