iPad: first reaction

We were lucky enough to get our hands on an iPad in our London office today. And I can tell you it’s been hard to get our hands off it.  And yet some people are still saying it’s just a big iPhone. So what’s the fuss all about?

Is it just a big iPhone?
I don’t think so. For one thing you’re not able to make calls on it, and so you shouldn’t be. It’s not supposed to be a replacement for your phone. Replacement versions of things normally get smaller and more compact, not bigger. This is something else. It doesn’t replace anything.

So what is it?
The iPad is something new. It’s a portable viewer. It’s not going to replace your laptop and it’s not going to replace your TV. What it does do, however, is blur the lines between some of the functionality of both of those mainstay devices. You can do some laptop things on it. You can do some TV things on it. And you can do some book things on it too. And the key thing is that you can do these things whilst lounging back on the sofa. You can show your partner. You can pass it round your friends. It’s a portable, sociable, media viewer. It enhances the experience of things you already do and lets you do them in a different way and on one device.

Do we need that?
Maybe not, but how often do you have to call everyone round your laptop to show them something cool and they all complain about having to get up. Or your laptop rocks unsteadily on your knees on the sofa and when you pass it on to show your friend they have to sit upright in order to hold it correctly. And mice just don’t work on the sofa.

What can you do on it?
Here in the UK we can’t yet download apps from the AppStore. That comes later this month. But even the native apps on the iPad are gorgeous. Email. Calendar. Maps. Web. Notes. Mags. Video. Photos. The experience of using all of these apps is much better than using them on your iPhone or your laptop. I am particularly excited, however, about reading books, magazines and comics on it. That alone is 100 times better than a Kindle because it’s colour and has video. Other features it has are a pure bonus. Using StreetView together with a friend sitting next to you is just a joy and so intuitive.

What else could come in the future?
Board games, children’s learning apps, augmented reality apps. You name it.

Is it a game-changer?
Not really, because people don’t actually need it. It’s providing a great solution for a problem that wasn’t huge. But it’s pushing forward an area which definitely will be game-changing. It’s a kick-starter.

Is it essential?
No. It’s a luxury. But I still want one.