The introduction of the iPad by Apple has made me think about how I use the various computers and devices that are part of my life. Do I need to have a bunch of different devices doing similar things?
The short answer is “yes” and the short reason is context. My iPod Touch is great for having a tiny computer with me all of the time. It also can be used for listening to music too (someday we’ll tell our kids about how there were thing called iPods that only played music and they’ll give us blank stares). But many time when I’m using my iPod on the couch I think that it would be better if it was a bit bigger and that’s one thing that the iPad does well.
One interesting thing about the way we use and share things on the screens that we use is that there is a physical and social component to it. How many time have you shown someone something on your iPhone or laptop. It would be easier with the iPad.
But the most revolutionary and interesting thing to me is the lack of multitasking and the disappearance of the filesystem. It is great how I am limited on my iPod Touch. I can only do one thing at a time and I don’t have to remember where I’ve saved something. As I write this blog post using my iPod, the only other thing I can do is listen to music. Twitter doesn’t distract me, or email, or anything else. I don’t have notifications on, so I don’t get distracted. I think about what I’m doing and everything else gets out of the way.
Focus is good and it is also rare. Unless I consciously shut down email and Twitter and my RSS reader and web browser it is really easy to get distracted and come back to a film, a half-written tweet, an email draft, and a bunch of tabs in the browser. It’s more productive when single-tasking on the iPod Touch than multitasking on a MacBook Pro.
The iPad is like a good notebook and pen (a very nice and expensive notebook and pen). People have different notebooks for different contexts, so why not have similar device for different places. The days of the mutipurpose computer on a desk where you do everything and store everything are over. The computer is becoming an appliance and that’s a very good thing.
While I don’t think I’ll get the first generation iPad, I’m pretty sure that I will eventually have one. My next big Apple purchase will probably be an iPhone (the unannounced next generation one) and it will be interesting to see how the iPhone evolves in the increasingly mobile Apple ecosystem. Will you get an iPad?