Remarkable things about the iPad

Mark iPads

OK, I admit it, I have a gadget problem...

I have always been fascinated by new technologies, particularly those that are social in nature (and look cool). So, obviously when the iPad came out, I placed my pre-order as soon as possible, and looked forward to the day when I could take it out of it’s sleek box. I then got a couple more (short story, won’t be told here), and started to dig into understanding what the tool might mean for people as a social device.

I have put together some of my early observations here – feel free to add your own!

Ability to act at the speed of thought – with internet access and the relevant iPad / iPhone applications, it is an incredible productivity tool for those of us who are only comfortable doing ten things at once.

Instant on – Click, it’s on. Another click it’s off. This gives you the freedom, the deep sense of freedom that you can interact with the machine however and whenever you want, which is vital for folks on the move, or people who need to dip in and out of work (and play).

Battery seems to last forever – hard to appreciate if you have never been a truly nomadic worker, but instead of the usual panicked glance at the battery meter, and knocking down brightness to conserve power, the iPad seems to keep on going. Now, it does take an age to charge up fully, but that is a different issue….

Friendsheep HD - communal game

Friendsheep - a game for 4 people

It’s a communal experience – if one can get past the novelty factor, you can actually have an audience viewing what you are working on (or playing with) on the iPad. The screen is amazingly sharp, from across the room, hanging upside down on a trapeze. There will be implications for privacy, and I have already investigated privacy screen covers (but I don’t want to use them). It does mean you can share pictures, games, drawings, etc as more applications emerge, there will be more communal apps too. My first is the Friendsheep game, played between two or more people, each with a part of their screen. This is just the beginning of communal computing!

It’s a life experience, not a technology – I used to have in-depth, pseudo-technical discussions around processor, disk space, and megahertz. Now, zip, de nada. I have no idea what the technology is behind the gadget, and I don’t care. Now, it is likely that the largest portion of the population thinks like this, which explains why true geek-geeks don’t really get it.

Blended Life – a quick scan of a page of apps shows the vast range of uses of the system, from work to play, back and forth. Even though the current version does not have multi-threading, and there is no super-quick way of switching between apps, it is fast enough. So you can be working on a document, quickly want to check something on the web, and then dip into a game, and then back to work, all in the space of a few minutes.

It proves your capability to think creatively – in the negative sense… I have found in the first weeks and months of the iPad’s availability, there is a high correlation between people who don’t get the iPad, and who are not very creative and open-minded. The product generated more than $1 billion in revenue in 2 months from scratch – an incredible achievement for any type of product, company or industry.

Apple iPad Rubber Case

The rubber case is amazing - easier to type, share the screen, etc

The secret’s in the case – I’m using the Apple rubber case, and I cannot imagine (yet) living without it. It allows you to type at an angle (which I am doing right now). It allows you to wangle it upright so you can watch TV at the breakfast table. It has friction, which means it is less likely to slide off, say, your leg as you’re iPading on the toilet. And you can shove business cards and rough notes into the slip it fits into, a handy asset. I look forward to playing with future cases, but this one so far has totally changed my ipad experience.

iPhone apps start to look lame once you use the iPad versions – the ability to use the iPhone apps was a real winner. The device had instant value as soon as you bought it, if you were an iPhone user. Instead of having to build up value through prolonged use, you just popped your new device into iTunes, wait a mo or two, and bingo, you have almost all your own apps. At first the experience is exhilarating – the screen makes things like so big. And then you dig around and start playing with apps specifically designed for the iPad. It is then that your world and your expectations change – it’s just different. The huge, super clear screen is amazing, and you quickly want to upgrade everything you have to iPad versions. Great business tactic!

Finger control is amazing – a computer mouse is pretty daft. You only realize this when you start playing around with a tablet like the iPad. Granted, you have no choice but to use fingers, but boy, it is an amazing sense of control. Playing games is completely different, depending on the smarts of the game company, in being able to point at what you want, rather than manipulate a piece of plastic on a so-so responsive surface, to make what you see on-screen move about a bit. Watching children use the device is very revealing – for a six and four year old, it is much more intuitive to point and touch.

Pogo Stylus for iPad & iPhone

The Pogo Stylus

After fingers, a pen! – Now, what I am looking for is pen control. There are plenty of occasions when a finger just does not cut it. You cannot see what you are doing underneath your fingers, which is fine for most applications, but not for programs that benefit from fine movement, such as graphics programs. So, a quick internet search, and a click to Amazon later and the Pogo stylus is on its way.

The original video, taken on my iPhone

The original video, taken on my iPhone...

Close to people with Zooming video – One day I decided to experiment and play with photos and videos. To my great surprise, I was able to zoom in on a video while it was playing. I was absolutely delighted! Why? If you travel a lot, you miss closeness to the people you hold dear. A quick zoom in on the video made the person’s face appear practically life-size. Very Minority Report!

Zooming in on sealions - iPad video

You can zoom in on any part of the video at any time

Wifi and Bluetooth – the gadget has different ways of connecting to the Internet and other devices. Now, it does not always work properly (might be my fault…), but when it does work it’s amazing. I have a set of twin apps called Camera-A and Camera-B that allow the iPad to use an iPhone to take and store pictures. It works (when it works) using either wifi or Bluetooth – brilliant (when it works…)

Platform for imagination – if you can think of it, someone will make an app for it. Scooting around the App Store, you find buttons to recommend apps, and so as a counter, if you’re a developer you can see the apps people are looking for. It is very cool that Apple even built Collective Intelligence into their App Store.

Instinctive Platform for Sharing – most apps at you download for business or productivity have recommendations and links to store your data on a service over the Internet. For me, this makes both the iPad and the iPhone gateways to a new, more connected and collaborative world.

Integrated – pictures, sound, platform allows these things to take place, and the applications give the framework. Sharing gives the reference points to people around the world what they can use the systems for.

New movements – finger swiping to scroll through things. Pinching. Finger press and move about. New ways of interacting that are very intuitive, just feels right.

iPod experience – the pioneers know it will get better, my first iPod had terrible battery life, and yet I could not give it back. The first iPhone did not have a video (hard to imagine that it was only three years ago), but we loved it. Yes, the iPad does not have a camera but we know it will do. We have some innate level of trust that Apple is true to Steve Jobs unique vision of producing insanely great products, and so if they cannot yet make the camera experience insanely great, we know they are working on it. And it won’t take forever.

Cool look, but can't see a damn thing on my new iPad...

Cool look, but can't see a damn thing on my new iPad...

Using in the sun. I have taken to carrying my iPad everywhere. Now that we have entered the sunny season, I constantly get tricked into thinking my iPad is dead as the screen is blank when you look at it with polarized sun glasses. It just takes a moment to realize the mistake, and to get over feeling stupid, but it just means you have to squint a little.

We need to earn more money for discretionary Apple purchases – that perhaps is the bottom line. It is expensive, but worth it. But it is expensive. So, maybe we all need to upgrade our earning potential, or sacrifice necessities like food and shelter, to become more Apple….

Mark Turrell is the Founder of Imaginatik plc, the Collective Intelligence company ( He is a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and Young Global Leader, and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He is also an Associate Professor at Hult Business School / IXL Center.

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