By: Hillel Fuld
So, as I assume you know by now, Apple released their extremely over hyped and some say most important product ever this week, the iPad. Steve Jobs, when first introducing the iPad referred to it with so many different adjectives, like only Steve Jobs knows how to do. The two words that stuck out among the bunch were “Magical” and “Revolutionary”. Now, here’s the thing, the iPad has been out for days now, and it has gotten endless positive reviews, however, with all its amazing graphics and smooth UI transitions, the iPad is hardly magical or revolutionary.
I know it has somehow, in one week, become cliche to call the iPad an overgrown iPod Touch, but let’s be honest, with the exception of a faster processor and a few other minor enhancements, that is what it is. However, the bottom line is, the number of iPads sold, as well as the number of iPad apps downloaded, are groundbreaking. There is no debating that this was a successful launch. Having said that, there are many people who have not taken the bait and will wait for iPad 2nd generation due to the list of missing capabilities that leads you to the only possible conclusion that Apple left them out so they can have what to include in the next version.
So, Apple, the company known best for its closed philosophy, has done it again. You know what would have been magical? If Apple would have changed their ways. The introduction of a new type of computing device, which is what the iPad is supposed to be, would have been the perfect time for Apple to introduce a new philosophy. The general concept of this new philosophy should have been “we trust our users to make the right decision about how they use our devices”. That would have been revolutionary and magical.
The following is a list of features that would have showed that Apple has really gone all out to make the iPad the ultimate device:
- Multitasking: Yes, I know everyone is talking about this, but there is a reason for that. Let’s be honest, most of the people buying iPads, at least at the early adopter stage, are geeks. Geeks need the ability to multitask. Just imagine a laptop that allows you to edit a Word document, but while you are doing so, you are unable to run an IM client in the background. Imagine a computer that will not allow you to have your email application running because you are now making a Skype call. That would not fly, would it? Slap a nice Apple logo on the back of the machine and that is supposed to solve everything? Well it seems to have worked for over 300,000 people so far, but I think the true geeks among us need more from our computers. Apple is providing a sneak peak into the iPhone 4.0 OS within a few days. The most anticipated new feature of the new iPhone software is multitasking capabilities. I don’t know about you, but the way I see it, if Apple would have implemented this new functionality upon release of the iPad, now that would have been brilliant. The day Apple allows multitasking, that day will be magical and revolutionary.
- USB, USB, and another USB: OK people, time to be real and honest with ourselves. Would any other computer with no USB ports manage to sell even a quarter of the amount of iPads Apple has sold? Not a chance! It’s one thing to leave out any connections on a mobile phone, but a computer? I don’t know about you, but I am always running out of USB ports on my home computer, there is never enough. How does Apple get away with this stuff? Well, I guess the answer is supreme marketing, an ultra sleek and intuitive UI, and a whole lotta Apple fanboys out there. The day Apple adopts the market standards of external ports, that day will be magical and revolutionary.
- Memory Card Slot: This is just a continuation of the previous point. The iPad, like the iPhone and the iPod Touch is completely closed. Apple wants to dictate to its customers exactly how to use the device, or more precisely, exactly how NOT to use the device. Now, 64GB of storage aint too shabby, but do they even make computers with such small hard drives anymore? Now, I know the basic assumption here is that the iPad is a computer, but based on what the experts are saying, that is what Apple’s intentions were. The iPad is supposedly intended to replace the laptop, or at least the netbook. However, with HD content and cameras that take 12 and 15 megapixel pictures, the capacities that the iPad comes in, they just don’t cut it. The day that Apple allows its customers the freedom to upgrade their storage capacity, that day will be magical and revolutionary (by the way, out of the things on this list so far, this is the most unlikely to ever happen).
- Camera: The lack of a camera on the iPad just gets me angry. There is no way to explain this without coming to the conclusion that Apple just saved it for the next version. The presence of a webcam on the iPad is as natural as a steering wheel in a car. With the amazing screen, and the Web capabilities, the first thing I would want to do is test out Skype video calling on the iPad. I cannot help but think that the ability to video call on the iPad would have made it into a device we would have seen in the movies or possibly an episode of 24. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that the iPad camera is coming, in fact, I believe I read somewhere that the software foundations for an integrated webcam are already in the current iPad. An iPad with a camera, front facing or regular, now that is something I would call magical or revolutionary. Yes, I know it exists on computers and phones for years, but computers and phones have never been this sexy…
- Flash Support: Why does Apple have to be so stubborn? Anyone? Flash is too buggy for you? OK, so include an option in the browser’s settings to disable it. This is the kind of freedom consumers want. Why can’t Apple get off their high horse and allow support for Flash? I want to watch Hulu on my iPad, is that so much to ask? This feature (if I can call it that) is by far the most unlikely to ever pass the strict Apple jail-like standards, but a man can dream, right? The day Apple reverses a decision as crucial as Flash support, that day would TRULY be magical and revolutionary, but sorry to say, I do not see that happening any time soon.
In conclusion, the iPad is a success and there is no denying it. People seem to love it and its numbers are sure to continue growing. However, it seems Jobs was at his best when he was presenting the iPad for the first time. If you have ever watched one of his keynotes, you know he is the expert at using impressive and exaggerated adjectives to describe Apple’s devices. I thought for once that the iPad would be an exception and it would really be the magical device he kept calling it. Unfortunately, it is not, and it is just another Apple device following the pattern of Apple mentality we have grown accustomed to since the introduction of the very first iPod.
I do not know what exactly Apple will announce on Thursday at the “sneak peak” of iPhone 4.0, but something tells me, we are not in for too many magical or revolutionary moments, more like the same old Apple tricks.
What do you think? Can the iPad be described as “magical” or is it just another cool looking and well marketed device? Please let us know in the comments.