Make no mistake, the days of the mouse are numbered, and I for one will not miss them one incy, wincy, teeny, weeny little bit. Okay, to be fair, the mouse has actually advanced personal computing incomprehensibly – after all, it ushered in the graphical user interface (GUI) and without that, computers would never have fallen into the hands of mere mortals.
But me, I’m sick of my mouse. Aside from such joys as inoperable trackballs and laggy movements, the mouse is responsible for something else that drives me up the wall – RSI. At the end of each day my hand is aching and my fingers are incapable of moving slowly… They can only snap from one position to the other.
There are of course plenty of issues to iron out if touchscreens are to take over the world. It’s pretty obvious you won’t be able to simply replace your existing monitor and stay seated, tapping away all day – your arms would drop off after a week! But that shouldn’t be a roadblock. We just need to rethink how we work. Standing isn’t such a bad thing (were we really designed to slump into a chair all day?).
When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers. -Excerpt from 2001: A Space Odyssey
You could be forgiven for thinking that last week’s announcement from Apple was just about another new product… A bigger iPod Touch. Apple were quick to position the device as a netbook alternative but not something you’d want to replace a full-fledged computer with. But their recreation of the iWork applications proved that the tablet format is capable of much more than just surfing the web and checking emails. Touchscreens could actually become the successor to the mouse. Now the iPad wasn’t the first tablet on the scene by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the first that looked like you’d want to use it. It’s the first that’s been properly designed for touching with your fingers, as opposed to a Stylus which is really just a pen in disguise. No, pens aren’t the answer. There’s a disconnect between holding a mouse or a pen and watching the screen that is simply not there with touch. There’s no mindgap. The curser is elevated from that pixelated white pointing glove into a real human hand – your own!
So the launch of the iPad last week got me dreaming of the day I can throw my mouse away and unpack a whopping, great, big, black box with an Apple logo on the side that says “30 inch iPad”. Perhaps it’ll be called a Mac Pad, or a Mac Touch, who knows… But I want one before my fingers fall off at the knuckles.
For more interesting blog posts, articles and opinion on the iPad and touch-based computing in general, these are some of the more interesting ones I’ve read in the last few days:
- Removing Features (brilliant read)
- I need to talk to you about computers. (again, excellent)
- In praise of the iPad: A contrarian view – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
- Editorial: Engadget on the Apple iPad
- iPhone-to-iPad development: How’s the timing going to work out?
- Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 Newspad finally arrives, nine years late
Finally after years of rumours and speculation about a mythical Apple tablet, their elephant in the room has been unveiled and boy is it sweet. If you haven’t already seen a demo of the iPad, you seriously have to check it out.
So how did Apple deliver on my wishlist of what I’d like to see in the device…
- a parallel SDK for the tablet/iPhone: ✔ Check
- long battery life: ✔ Check
- speedy processor: ✔ Check
- front-facing camera: ✘ No cigar
- but ultimately, I want to be surprised (as only Apple know how): ✔ Check
One of the most common questions floating around has been “Will it be useful?”. In other words, is it an answer looking for a problem that doesn’t exist? Well, you be the judge – but watch it in action first. I have to say, I was more than a little blown-away by Apple’s work on the software. That is after all, where the device either wins or loses in the area of usefulness. The beauty of this device is that – just like the iPhone – it’s a whole new product every time it opens up the latest and greatest software release, be it OS-based or third party.
And what about the price? US$499 for the base model? *jaw hits carpet*
Netbooks aren’t better at anything. They’re just cheaper. Steve Jobs
Apple are clearly taking it to the streets and aiming for big… no, huge… no, MASSIVE sales. Why else would they price it so aggressively when it has no competition? Think iPod infiltration levels all over again.
It’s great that it runs iPhone apps straight off the bat, but I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the decision to include a 2x scaling option for iPhone sized apps on the device. It’s not like Apple to blow up pixels bigger than they were meant to be. Interesting decision, but I’ll reserve my final judgement until I’ve seen the results. It’s great that the SDK tools are available straight away though, because designing for this size screen is going to be awesome.
It’s a shame about the staggered release timing. There are three wifi-only models (16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb) all available in two months from today, but add 3G into the mix and it’s an extra month on top of that. I may be wrong but it seems that if developers (who will need the device in their hands for testing purposes) are to try and get their apps ready for the initial flood of dedicated iPad app sales, they’re forced into getting a non-3G model, or buying both.
But that’s a minor quibble. It’s a flat out brilliant new device in a segment all of it’s own and I can’t wait to start working on a bigger canvas!
What do you think about Apple’s new baby?
Could the hype and anticipation get any stronger, surrounding Apple’s (predicted) announcement tomorrow of a tablet computer? One thing is now for certain and that is that Apple will be announcing something new. That at least, was confirmed yesterday, when Apple also revealed details of their most profitable quarter in history (US$3.38 Billion):
If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it’s surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company … The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about. - Steve Jobs
As tomorrow’s announcement edges closer, the media are looking for any new info they can get their hands on. And so it was with CNBC’s Terry McGraw interview just now. Hilariously the CEO of McGraw-Hill stated “We have worked with Apple for quite a while” and then revealed details of the unannounced product. Um, yeah. Not sure if he read the fine print in the NDA he no doubt signed from Apple, but he probably won’t be working too closely with them again anyway.
There’s been a lot of debate as to whether an Apple tablet would be based more on a modified OSX or iPhone operating system. Personally I think it will be the latter, as the iPhone OS has set the benchmark for touch-based computing. Having said that, a tablet computer is a completely new genre. I don’t think it will be marketed as an alternative to a notebook, nor will it be just a crazy-huge iPhone. It will fill a need that we didn’t know we had, much like the notebook and the smartphone did when they first appeared.
So what about you – are you excited? I’m pumped about tomorrow, but not just because I want to see what Apple have up their sleeve… It’s my son’s first day of school.
After a very brief stint with a PS2 about two years ago (bought new then sold on eBay within a month), we have rejoined the console club, this time with a Wii salute. It was a very generous family Christmas gift that included two controllers, two nunchucks, a twin-charger, a steering wheel and several games to get us started.
I have to say, it’s been lots of fun. The kids love it and as long as we limit ourselves to a couple of turns each, we don’t get square eyes. The unique controller is definitely what gives it the family-friendly edge over the PS3 and XBox. You have to watch the furniture though (or wandering toddler), as you swing your arms wildly trying to thrash your wife in a game of tennis or beat up your daughter in a round of boxing – to be fair, my daughter has knocked me out almost every time.
But that said, I still don’t get one thing. Why is the Wii still standard definition after all these years? The reason I gave up the PS2 so quickly was that on our big telly it looked terrible. Admittedly the Wii doesn’t look as bad, probably due to the fact that the games require much more use of your body, so you’re not as fixated on the pixels. But as a gadget geek I think it’s a shame that Nintendo haven’t moved along with everyone else and released a HD Wii.
Do you have a Wii or other console? What sold you on yours, and what’s your favourite game?
Now this is just flat-out ridiculous. I kid you not, these are the new icons for Microsoft Office 2010. Like… seriously. I don’t even know what else to say. There’s just nothing to say that isn’t clearer simply by comparing the two sets of icons.
Those who know me don’t need to be told that I’m not Microsoft’s biggest fan, but this is design crime at it’s worst however you look at it. Even if I were to try and move past the 80′s-clipart design inspiration, there are three icons with the letter ‘P’! Am I missing something?
It’s obvious that I’m not going to understand this without some help, so here is a bit of a rationale straight from Microsoft:
It’s not just a pretty picture: Designing and implementing the visuals for Microsoft Office goes beyond the icons and the age old desire simply to “make it look pretty”. It’s about bridging the gap between the familiar and the unknown, conveying and building on a brand, and helping users complete their daily tasks without getting in the way.
Hold on, let me get this right… if the icons look too pretty, they could get in the way because users might keep wanting to gaze at them?
I should point out that I don’t usually like to criticize other people’s work, but I think Microsoft are big enough to handle some feedback from the design community on this.
Well what do you think? Are the new icons a design train-crash or is it just me?
If you haven’t heard of the Square iPhone payment system, it’s a nifty new way of accepting credit card payments from people straight from your iPhone. It does require a dinky, swipe-input device that connects to the headphone jack, but it’s quite small. The video demo by Kevin Rose shows it off beautifully.
So what’s next? An app that analyses your golf swing? Oh, there’s an app for that already.
But I’d like to try this Square app out. Wanna drop by and pay me with your credit card?