iPad Changes Everything 2 June, 2010Posted by paralleldivergence in apple, education, ICT in Education, Internet, ipad, Life, technology.
Tags: apple, education, ipad, Life, technology
Every so often an invention comes along that is a game changer. Most of the really good ones like the Wheel, Electricity, Light Bulb and Plumbing pre-date me, but I am fortunate to live in a time where the rate of progress now is such that I can witness many of the newest breakthroughs first-hand. Arguably, the Apple iPad is one of these breakthroughs.
Image courtesy of philderksen
So what is it that compels me consider placing the iPad into such a revered category of invention? Prior to its release, Steve Jobs called this thing “magical” and “revolutionary”. Obviously, I’m very skeptical about the “magical” tag, but it’s very hard to quibble with the second descriptor attached to the device.
But why? We have had LCD screens and internet browsers and email apps for ages. How can something that does what we’ve been doing with computers for years be called a “game changer“? The thing is, it’s not WHAT the iPad does that makes it special. It’s HOW the USER interfaces with it that is the difference – and it’s a massive difference.
For all my adult life, I’ve been using computers on a daily basis. I know what they do and I can do amazing things with them. My children grew up in a world and home life where computers and access to the world via the Internet was the norm. We were totally connected. On the flipside, my wife knew what computers could do, but she just wasn’t interested in using them. If she had a question that needed to be looked up on-line, she knew either our kids or I could do it for her. She had different hobbies and workloads that filled her day and the computers in our house were not part of her routine. There was clearly a barrier there for her that she decided she didn’t need or want to cross. Computers just never excited her – and for her needs, I can truly say there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I always felt she was missing out.
And I can’t help but imagine how many others are also in the same boat? The World Internet Usage Statistics suggest that penetration in Australia is just over 60%. How do they work that out? Because so many households have an internet connection and there’s an average of so many people in each household? Multiply the two figures together and divide it into the overall population and there’s your percentage? Well my personal experience shows that in my household, there would be an error-margin of 25% in that calculation. My own experience with people in general tells me that the actual internet penetration across the population is less than half. I believe most western countries would be the same.
When it comes to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), we can split the world up into three distinct groups:
- The ICT Rich – Individuals with easy access who choose to be connected regularly
- The ICT Avoiders – Individuals who could be connected, but for whatever reason, choose not to
- The ICT Poor – Individuals who through their situation have little or no access to ICTs.
I classified my wife in the second category years ago and despite my efforts to change that, the barriers were too great for her. Then I heard about the Apple iPad and instantly I could see it as a catalyst for ICT Avoiders to become connected. I decided I was going to buy her one on the May 28 release date. I configured it for her with her rarely used email address and a few bookmarks in Safari as well as some of the more popular free iPad apps from the AppStore and then I gave it to her to try out. Instantly, she wanted to touch it, to test it, to see what it does and what she could do with it. She asked me to put some of her favourite photos and music onto it. My children sent her emails with links to some sites she’d be interested in. I showed her how to turn on and off the wireless connection at home.
On the first day, my wife had been going with the iPad for about 4 hours and I can officially advise that she has finally joined the rest of the family in 21C. I can confirm that it is a game-changer, but is it a stepping stone to traditional computing? I’m not sure that Apple’s walled-garden will allow for that. Still, her excitement was palpable, and computers have never done that for her in the past.
Here are my top-ten reasons why I think iPad is “revolutionary” for ICT Avoiders:
- Extremely portable – light and not oversized
- Cold start in 23 seconds
- Very intuitive. The iPhone user interface “makes sense” to just about everyone. iPad is the same with bigger screen real estate (very important)
- No complexities added of a permanently visible keyboard and mouse as you have with a traditional computer – for newbies, these are hurdles to overcome – not human interface devices.
- Simplicity. One app at a time.
- > 10 hour battery life
- People don’t seem to have any fear that they’ll break something with it
- Some of the apps are very practical from a newbie’s POV. For example, “Epicurious” puts hundreds of thousands of recipes at your fingertips. Tap what ingredients you have and bang, there’s a stack of recipes to try, including feedback from people who have tried them. Very powerful. And that’s just one example. The App Store is a shopping mall for newbies – as is iTunes Store and iBook Store.
- Internet browsing without the complications. No plugins to install, things either work, or they don’t (flash). You just accept it as it is.
- (so far) It’s reliable. Turn it on and it just works.
iPad will not replace your computer if you are already a computer user. But it’s a handy, convenient option for doing some things, and it does them very elegantly. If you always avoided ICTs, iPad is YOUR gateway to the connected world.
Sorry, I sound like an iPad salesman, but that’s my impression after witnessing the impact it’s had in my own home since Friday – and apart from setting it up and having an initial play with it myself, I’ve been hands-off. Is it for everyone? No. You can live without it. But if I wanted a way to get “ICT-Avoiders” to start using ICTs, I would give them an iPad.
Revolutionary? I think so. It’s clear that the iPod revolutionised the music industry, and now there is talk that the iPad will revolutionise the newspaper and magazine industry. We’ve had Windows-based tablet computing for almost a decade. If the iPad wasn’t revolutionary, we wouldn’t have so many tech companies rushing to develop a competing product with a similar user interface.
But I’m not going to go as far as 4,000 Britons who were recently surveyed on the “Greatest Inventions of All Time” where the iPhone was voted into 8th place – one in front of the Flushing Toilet. Although I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people using their iPad on the 9th-rated greatest invention of all time.
Do you think the iPad is revolutionary?