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Posts Tagged ‘ipad’

The only thing that matters in computing now is….

How long will it last….

Without a cord.

The iPhone4 smokes all other smartphones in battery life. It’s the only phone you can really travel with.

Stop innovation on everything else and make all devices work without electrical outlet jacking every 7 hours.

I am not an apple fan boy…. I’m typing this on an evo and my main CPU is Windows 7. But if I don’t get better disconnectivity from the wall…..

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Look, I’m a parent.  As much as I hate to admit it, kids do greatly influence spending in the household.

My 6 and 4 year old don’t just like the iPad – they get it. As Reese, 4 years old says, “It’s the iPad, you watch TV and do stuff on it.”   And then she goes off and well, watches TV and pokes around on it.  It fits in her lap, is loud enough without headphones and doesn’t turn off or freeze if she happens to get curious.

Reese Chillin' with the iPad

Reese Chillin' with the iPad

Mass consumer adoption of technology requires everyone in the family to get use out of it.  Say what you want about whether the iPad works for you as a work computer, it definitely works for a TV that does stuff for most families and it doesn’t cost much more than a flat screen that does nothing.   Forget how this thing screws up computer companies… what about the TV market…. what about the kids stuff market….

Kids love it = mass adoption. QED.

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The iPad, like the iPod, iPhone, and iMac isn’t a revolution in computer science, design interface, consumer packaging nor ui. It’s a revolution of the economics of those things. Now that there’s a device on the market now at 500 bucks and an unlimited data plan for 30 bucks a month it’s almost assured that the iPad type of computing and media platform will be popularized and maybe not even by apple. The hype of the technology will surely drown out the economic story for some time but in the long run the implications of the price of this technology will be the big story.

Sure we have sub 500 dollar computers and media devices. they have never been this functional or this easy. Apple has just shown what is possible so now the other competitors will have to follow suit. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme if it’s apple or htc or google or microsoft or Sony who wins the bragging wars each quarter – the cat is out of the bag – cost effective, easy to use, and fun computing for everyone is possible in a mass producible construction.

There are some interesting side effects coming out of this. If a business can’t make huge profits from the hardware or the connection or the applications where will the profit come from? (I’m not saying companies won’t mark good profits I just don’t think it will be sustainable – especially for companies used to big margins.)

Obviously the sales of content matters. Books, movies, games, music and so on. This computing interface makes it far more easy to buy content and get a sense that it was worth buying. If the primary access channel is through a browser I think people aren’t inclined to pay – we all are too used to just freely browsing. On a tablet the browser isn’t the primary content access channel.

The challenge for content providers is that quality of the content has to be great. This new interface requires great interactivity and hifi experiences. Cutting corners will be very obvious to users. There’s also not really some easy search engine to trick into sending users to a sub par experience. That only works when the primary channel is the browser.

If advertising is going to work well on this platform boy does there have to be a content and interaction shift in the industry. Banners and search ads will just kill an experience on this device. Perhaps more old school magazine style ads will work because once your in an app you can’t really do some end around or get distracted. Users might be willing to consume beautiful hifi ads. Perhaps the bigger problem is that sending people to a browser to take action on an ad will be quite weird.

Clicks can’t be the billable action anymore. Clicks aren’t the same on a tablet! (in fact, most Internet ads won’t work on the iPad. Literally. Flash and click based ads won’t function)

Perhaps the apps approach to making money will work. To date the numbers don’t add up. Unless users are willing to pay more for apps than they do on the iPhone only a handful of shops will be able to handle the economics of low margin, mass software. So for the iPad apps seem to be higher priced. More users coming in may change that though.

In a somewhat different vein…. Social computers will be a good source of cold and flu transmission. If we’re really all going to be leaving these lying about and passing them between each other, the germs will spread. Doesn’t bother me, but some people might consider that.

Will users still need to learn a mouse in the future?

Should we create new programming interfaces that are easier to manipulate with a touch screen. Labview products come to mind?

What of bedroom manners? The iPhone and blackberries are at least small…

And, of course, the porn industry. The iPhone wasn’t really viable as a platform. This touch based experience with big screens… Use your imagination and I’m sure you can think up some use cases…

I do think this way of interacting with computers is here to stay. It’s probably a good idea to think through how it changes approaches to making money and how we interact with each other. I’d rather shape our interactions than be pushed around unknowingly….

Happy Monday!

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I’ve had a good time messing with this iPad. The hype is justified I’m afraid….

It’s true many of the ideas coming to life in the iPad aren’t new but like so many apple products they just put them together better than anything we’ve seen before.

Touch screens
Manipulative interfaces
Long battery life
Tablet format
Simple, controlled ui
Virtual keyboard
Wireless connectivity
Spelling correction
Universal access features
Ereader
And so on…

Bits and pieces have been tried before. This is just a whole different package.

Sure it’s got some things that can be improved… I keep pressing the caps lock key, sometimes the screen mode gets weird, and the screen gets dirty quickly like the iPhone (dorritos aren’t a viable snack anymore). This are things that can be refined overtime.

One major concern I do have… The iPad doesn’t seem rugged. It’s so pretty and so smooth but I fear moving it out of my lap. Reminds me of holding our children during their first week of life…

Apple takes a lot of criticism for lack of multitasking and closed os. Frankly though it flat out works. I think if you don’t have constraints on a system it gets sloppy quickly. My droid phone has all sorts of oddities that my blackberry and iPod touch do not. I’m not saying one approach is better than another on os and devices… Different devices different needs. I want the iPad to work well on my most common tasks and it appears to do that. I will take some loss of functionality for a great experience on key elements. Also I noticed that most good apps include the right functions so that multitasking in the os isn’t really that important. E.g. Code editors including a browser an FTP function in app.

The economics of the ipad will change the industry. The hardware is so functional it’s hard to believe you can get one of these for 500 bucks. And this is gen 1. The software In the app store is already very good. And it’s easily 80% cheaper than typical laptop / desktop apps. The fact that you can attach a bluetooth headset to this and run Skype pretty much could do in landlines and typical voip. When the 3G models ship with their decent data plans the cellular economics have got to change.

I played a few of the games. They are very fun and very good looking/sounding. Beyond being a very big threat to other gaming machines like the ds and psp, I think the iPad will do what the Wii did – bring about a whole category of gaming and a whole new category of gamers. Board game dynamics are going to be much more interesting on this platform than in any other platform. At the controller less experience with a screen as part of the interface is very enjoyable. And unlike the iPhone the experience is bigger in every way.

My favorite apps so far are Wolfram|Alpha, iWork, brushes, word press, AIM/life stream, and Theo Grays The Elements.

Civ revolutions and Tap Tap radiation are awesome games.

And my ultimate test for whether this will be a long term device for me… Can I type fast and in great enough quantity to be able to write emails and script/program? Yes! Both the keyboard and the text editors are very functional.

By Christmas time the consumer software, gaming and computer industry are going to look very different. New companies, new economics, new approaches…. Yes, it will be that fast of transition…

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Now that both the iPad and Wolfram|Alpha iPad are available it’s time to really evaluate the capabilities of these platforms.

Wolfram|Alpha on the iPad

Wolfram|Alpha iPad

[disclaimer: last year I was part of the launch team for Wolfram|Alpha – on the business/outreach end.]

Obviously I know a great deal about the Wolfram|Alpha platform… what it does today and what it could do in the near future and in the hands of great developers all over the world.  I’m not shy in saying that computational knowledge available on mobile devices IS a very important development in computing.  Understanding computable knowledge is the key to understanding why I believe mobile computable knowledge matters.   Unfortunately it’s not the easiest of concepts to describe.

Consider what most mobile utilities do… they retrieve information and display it.  The information is mostly pre-computed (meaning it has been transformed before your request), it’s generally in a “static” form.   You cannot operate on the data in a meaningful way.  You can’t query most mobile utilities with questions that have never been asked before expecting a functional response.  Even the really cool augmented reality apps are basically just static data.  You can’t do anything with the data being presented back to you… it’s simply an information overlay on a 3d view of the world.

The only popular applications that currently employ what I consider computable knowledge are navigation apps that very much are computing real time based on your requests (locations, directions, searches).    Before nav apps you had to learn routes by driving them, walking them, etc. and really spending time associating a map, road signs and your own sense of direction.   GPS navigation helps us all explore the world and get around much more efficiently. However, navigation is only 1 of the 1000s of tasks we perform that benefit from computable knowledge.

Wolfram|Alpha has a much larger scope!    It can compute so many things against your current real world conditions and the objects in the world that you might be interacting with.   For instance you might be a location scout for a movie and you want to not only about how far the locations are that you’re considering you want to compute ambient sunlight, typical weather patterns, wind conditions, likelihood your equipment might be in danger and so forth.  You even need to consider optics for your various shots. You can get at all of that right now with Wolfram|Alpha.  This is just one tiny, very specific use case.  I can work through thousands of these.

The trouble with Wolfram|Alpha (its incarnations to date)  people cite is that it can be tough to wrangle the right query.   The challenge is that people still think about it as a search engine.   The plain and simple fact is that it isn’t a web search engine.  You should not use it as a search engine.  Wolfram|Alpha is best used to get things done. It isn’t the tool you use to get an overview of what’s out there – it’s the system you use to compute, to combine, to design, to combine concepts.

The iPad is going to dramatically demonstrate the value of Wolfram|Alpha’s capabilities (and vice versa!). The form factor has enough fidelity and mobility to show why having computable knowledge literally at your fingertips is so damn useful.  The iPhone is simply too small and you don’t perform enough intensive computing tasks on it to take full advantage.  The other thing iPad and similar platforms will demonstrate is that retrieving information isn’t going to be enough for people.  They want to operate on the world.  They want to manipulate.  The iPad’s major design feature is that you physically manipulate things with your hands.  iPod does that, but again, it’s too small for many operations.   Touch screen PCs aren’t new, but they are usually not mobile.  Thus, here we are on the cusp of direct manipulation of on screen objects.  This UI will matter a great deal to the user.  They won’t want to just sort, filter, search again.  They will demand things respond in meaningful ways to their touches and gestures.

So how will Wolfram|Alpha take advantage of this?   It’s already VISUAL! And the visuals aren’t static images.  Damn near every visualization in Wolfram|Alpha are real time computed specifically to your queries.   The visuals can respond to your manipulations.  In the web version of Wolfram|Alpha this didn’t make as much sense  because the keyboard and mouse aren’t at all the same as your own two hands on top of a map, graph, 3d protein, etc.

Early on there was a critical review of Wolfram|Alpha’s interface – how you actually interact with the system.  It was dead on in many respects.

WA is two things: a set of specialized, hand-built databases and data visualization apps, each of which would be cool, the set of which almost deserves the hype; and an intelligent UI, which translates an unstructured natural-language query into a call to one of these tools. The apps are useful and fine and good. The natural-language UI is a monstrous encumbrance…

In an iPad world, natural language will sit back-seat to hands on manipulations.  Wolfram|Alpha will really shine when people manipulate the visuals and the data display and the various short cuts. People’s interaction with browsers is almost all link or text based, so the language issues with Wolfram|Alpha and other systems are always major challenges.  Now what will be interesting is how many popular browser services will be able to successfully move over to a touch interface.  I don’t think that many will make it.  A new type of services will have to crop up as iPad apps will not be simply add-ons to a web app, like they usually are for iPhone.  These services will have to be great in handling direct manipulation, getting actual tasks accomplished and will need to be highly visual.

My iPad arrives tomorrow.  Wolfram|Alpha is the first app getting loaded. and yes, I’m biased.  You will be too.

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I warned you that I’d do it… just as I did with the iPhone…  I’ve already invented the LiPad.

Here are highlights from my launch video.

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HP Slate vs iPad

Perhaps a more apples to apples competition is HP/Microsoft vs. Apple for the yet to be valuable category of “tablets”.

The HP Slate and Apple iPad devices are remarkably similar.

Here’s the Slate:

Here’s the iPad:

That’s right… the same basic concept and function.

you know why Apple will sell more than HP?  Marketing.  Look at how Apple polishes everything up from the product design to the silly video.

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