The Apple iPad Case arrived today, and I think it’s a good thing to have. It protects the case from dings and makes it easier to hold without slipping. It also can position the iPad a couple of different ways (both widescreen) while resting on a desk, but it remains easy to hold in your hands. And it offers good protection when it’s closed.
I’ve been using this iPad and thinking about it, and what Apple has done here is remarkable. The iPad represents the first really new interface for computers since the invention of the mouse. (And, yes, I pre-date the invention of the mouse. Also, dirt.) Seriously speaking, handling the iPad is qualitatively different than using other computers, and in some ways much more natural. This is going to become the new standard for hand-held portable devices.
And this is why Apple is a winner. They brought the mouse based graphical interface to the market. (They didn’t invent it, but they made it a successful product.) Now they’ve brought the next generation interface to the market – successfully.
The competition, such as Windows or Linux based tablets, don’t stand a chance. They can’t compete with the elegance of the Apple solution. Why? Because the iPad / iPhone operating system was designed from the ground up to be controlled by your hands, and personally interact with how you move it around, and it shows. Every single other system in the works has a few of these features, but they are tacked on top of a mouse-based OS. The technical term is ‘kludge’.
And this is also why the competition to the iPhone has failed to catch it. They’ve had three years, and still haven’t developed the tactile ‘feel’ of the iPhone. I recently handled a friend’s smartphone; looked a lot like an iPhone. But you had to push down pretty hard on the screen to get the touch sensitive action, very crude compared to the gentle strokes required for an iPhone or iPad. And this is the best they could do after three years of trying to catch up!
A new interface paradigm for controlling computers doesn’t come along very often. In fact, since the advent of the personal computer, there have only been three: CLI, or Command Line Interface; GUI, or Graphic User Interface (controlled by mouse pointer); and now, the iPad / iPhone touch interface. Done well, too; especially for a version 1 device.
Part of the interface re-think is in how the iPad handles documents. You launch an application, and the documents for that application are available to you. You aren’t inundated with files and file structures that you don’t need to see. I’ll give that part some more study, but my initial impression is positive. Moving data to other devices, like my laptop, could be smoother; but this is a version 1 product, and if there wasn’t something to gripe about it would just be wrong.