Well, the agonising wait is over and the world finally knows what Steve Jobs had up his sleeve – a giant iPod touch!
As always with these over-hyped imaginary products the reality is a mixture of excitement and disappointment.
Disappointment because it doesn’t live up to the hype and do everything everybody claimed it might – hi-res cameras, video conferencing, replace my AppleTV, stream my iTunes collection from the cloud or make my coffee for me.
Excitement because it’s a giant iPod touch! We have to remember that Apple are making products for the mass market now, not just us fanboys. I’ve lost count of the number of ‘normal’ people I’ve shown off my iPhone too who’ve said ‘it’s really cool but the screen’s too small’. My wife, who is probably more typical of the target consumer than me, sits in bed in the morning looking at the web on her laptop because her iPhone’s screen is ‘too small’ while I squint away at my phone emailing links to myself so I can look at them later on a bigger screen.
Don’t get me wrong, mobile Safari is the best mobile browser out there – the only thing that holds it back is the size of the screen. It’s the same with video playback – great implementation but the screen’s too small to really enjoy it.
I think an enormous deciding factor in the design of the iPad has been keeping the price down. Apple didn’t want to repeat the mistake they made with the Cube a few years ago i.e. release something that looked incredibly cool but was overpriced for it’s target market and ultimately failed. Hence, no video cameras, no huge amounts of memory
Other negative comments that have been made concern the lack of multitasking but that’s not a hardware limitation. From what I can tell looking at videos of the device in action the new Apple A4 chip that powers the iPad looks pretty powerful. To my mind the iPad looks like it’s being constrained by the operating system. Rather than roll out OS 4.0 with full iPad support we’re having to make do with an incremental update to the OS that takes into account the higher screen resolution. Hence the home screen looks rather sparse with the huge gaps between those tiny little icons and only 4 apps in the dock. This looks very much like a temporary measure to me while they get OS 4.0 ready for a summer release and some new iPhone hardware.
There’s still a lot missing at the moment – where’s the Weather app? Where’s Stocks & Messaging? Sure, there’s a lot to moan about but equally there’s a lot to get excited about – as a screen based designer, I for one am looking forward to playing with all those extra 632,832 pixels! As you can see, we’ve already updated our previous mockups to reflect the real iPad – now we have to get coding!