Two days have passed after the announcement of iPad. A lot has been said, written, twitted about Apple's latest product. But I have something to add too.
There are three things I would like to say about iPad, that I haven't seen emphasized elsewhere. That's what this post is about.
1. One plane of interaction.
iPad will be the first product of its kind - a laptop size screen (almost) and a laptop size keyboard (virtual albeit) merged in one plane. All the laptops (and desktops) that we've ever used in our lives, have had two planes of interaction. A horizontal plane that takes keyboard input and a vertical plane that emits monitor output. With iPad these two planes are going to merge. I don't know if it is good or bad, but I think it's the first time and don't know how our brains will react to that change. We definitely imagined this is how our future interfaces will be, but now that such a product is here, we will actually know if that is what we want. Will we find it awkward that we now are doing both input and output in the same plane. I don't know. From the promos, it seems apple did a great job in keeping the keyboard simple. Let's see how that works out.
2. It's Apple Inside Out
It's the first time Apple has delivered a product that runs on a processor built by Apple themselves. That means, it's the first time that each and every part of iPad has been designed and built inside Apple. I think it's interesting in various aspects.
It's every product designer's fantasy that he/she has control over every tiny piece of their product's component (own the whole stack). However only few in the computing industry have achieved that status. Think of Sony, Nintendo. Apple has joined their ranks. However, Sony and Nintendo's products are niche (gaming consoles or music gadgets), whereas Apple is building general purpose computing products. Moreover Apple gets design, they have a style and they have established a fan following. What this means is Apple is now all too powerful. They can use that power to reach newer heights in product design. On the flip side however, they can use this power to restrict access to their system. They have already shown it in the form of iPhone app store. Apple products excel in user interface, but they block every other kind of interface.
3. Future is here
Criticize whatever you want in Apple products, but one thing is undeniable - they are pushing consumer electronics into the future. And not just with lab prototypes, but with main-stream, mass-manufactured, affordable products. Designers have always thought of products like iPad, something that feels like a simple slate rather than a powerful computer. Few have created their own prototypes of the concept or even niche products (take graphics tablets from Wacom, Microsoft Surface), but Apple will deserve the credit for bringing such a futuristic product to our kitchens.
In case you are wondering about where I am on the Apple fanboy scale:
I like Apple's products, though I won't call myself a Apple fanboy. I think they are the best designers of computing industry. I have owned only two Apple products so far, a 4th generation iPod and a Macbook. I've been pretty happy with them. I have never owned an iPhone, mostly because it is too restricted a device to play with. Android is the best choice for smart phones in today's date - open enough to play with and with good enough design that gets the job done.
* CaseCrown Faux Suede Zip Sleeve Case (Black) to Carry the Apple iPad Wifi / 3G Model 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
* Apple iPad Soft-Shell Eva Foam Case by Protec (Silver)
* Archos 9 PC Tablet (Black)