Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paradigm Shift

A lot of discussion has been given to the topic of what the iPad's role is. It is neither a phone, nor a laptop. Is it a device for which there is no place? Having owned an iPad for about two months, I'm of the opinion that the iPad is something new, unique, and paradigm changing. The interface is intuitive and fluid in a way that I have not experienced on my Android phone, nor any of my windows PCs.

HP Multi-touch all-in-one computers have promise but appear unable to deliver results. The machines come with large (22"+) multi-touch capable screens with all the computer hardware built directly into the monitor. Unfortunately, the Windows 7 OS integration is clunky and relies on the mouse driven paradigm. Take for example pinch-zooming. On either an Android device or an iPad, you can pinch to zoom in nearly any application. In most apps you can turn pages by swiping them to the side. Windows was never built for this kind of intuitive interface, so even the paint program I tried at Best Buy today failed to take advantage of the spacious multi-touch monitor on the computer.

The iPad, on the other hand, was built from the ground up with a touch interface in mind. This allows it to use gestures with consistency throughout the entire interface. Just as the mouse changed the way we think about interfaces, I'm convinced that the iPad will do something similar.

One of the complaints often voiced about the iPad is that it is a device with no apparent market space. That was true, however 3 million sales later, it appears that perhaps many of us were only begrudgingly staying in the laptop space anyway. As we prepare to head to the cottage this weekend, I wonder if there really is any reason to take my laptop to study. There is, of course. It's nostalgia.