Random Thoughts on the iPad
If there is one thing that has caused quite the stir, it’s the announcement of the iPad last Wednesday. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and of course I have mine as well. Apple fans are saying that it will change the paradigm of computing, including splitting people into two worlds. There are of course a lot of grey areas here. People are tying major issues to the lack of flash, which isn’t really a big deal if you ask me. Eventually Flash was bound to fall, because it’s a closed system at it’s core. You can make some Flash things without Adobe, but they can always change the game on you. Of course, the Apple App store is just as closed as Flash. You can’t put anything on the iPad without the magic bits from Apple saying that it’s kosher. There are already a bunch of invalid reasons that they have for rejecting apps, including the very anti-competitive practices of rejecting anything which will be competing against their own apps. Will they reject word processors for the iPad which compete with iWork? How close does something need to be in order to be rejected - will OmniGraffle’s outline making tools be too close?
Because I love the iPad, it’s such a great piece of tech. I can even buy into the “new world” of non-multitasking (noone really multitasks anyway) and non-filesystem world. I can see building apps for it, but I don’t want to work in the closed system which is the Apple universe, where everything is gatekeepered by a process which has been opaque at best. It’s all of the arguments against the iPhone’s development model, except on a larger scale. There were companies who wanted to develop software for the iPhone that were niche apps - things like warehouse inventory systems. The iPad is larger, it’s about the perfect size to walk around with and read stuff off of. 10 hours of battery life means it lasts through the whole workday.
Of course, there is a back door into most of the new apps - the web browser. The best part of this may be that you can use it perfectly as a portal to a web app that can build you anything you need. Apple may be getting what they wanted at the start for the iPhone with the iPad. We all remember the few months before there was an SDK when the party line was that you could do everything with web apps? It’s much more likely with a nine inch screen and a blazing fast browsing experience. Web apps are also the end-around of all the restrictions that Apple places on their “approved” apps. You want a picture of an iPhone in there? It’s just a GIF. Want to put some “adult” content in? HTML5 video to the rescue! The only thing you can’t do is background processing, but you can’t even do that with real apps. There’s no API bugs to work around. It’s not exactly the same as a real app for low-latency things like gaming.
At any rate, I’m still going to develop web apps, and I think that the iPad will be the kick in the pants that the industry needs to make a decent tablet. Android phones are getting better, and accelerating, in large part because the iPhone changed the smartphone ecology forever. If the iPad does the same to the tablet market, it will be a very exciting future.