The iPad mini is the best tablet to get and lets be honest, it's way better than the full sized iPad for nearly everyone. I'd even go so far as to say that the full sized iPad is plain obscene after using the mini.
I'm embarrassed to say this because I've been part of the problem by not talking enough about the heft. But the truth is that we've all been overlooking the iPad's weight because everything else was good about it. It's not anyone's fault-it's physics and trade offs that make a 10-inch tablet weigh this much when its made of these materials with a battery life this long. It was the best tablet for most, because it was the only one to get with iOS and its amazing library of apps and great hardware. But I can't say the heft is ok anymore. You didn't hold it like a magazine, which is the dream of a tablet, because it weighed as much as coffee tablet book or a small telephone book. You can agree or disagree, but it's indisputable that the mini is a better hold because you don't have to grip it like a steering wheel or like an underpowered circus strongman. And what good is a mobile gadget if its hard to carry and hold?
After using one for just under a week now, I completely agree. When it gets a retina screen in the next iteration or two, it'll be perfect. (via @robinsloan)
It's funny. Or sad. Or predictable. It's predictably sadly funny that many tech media outlets are saying that Apple's iPad finally has a bonafide competitor in the Microsoft Surface. Set aside for now that Surface does look genuinely interesting, that the price hasn't been set, and the thing isn't even out yet. For a piece of portable networking technology like a smartphone or tablet to be successful on the scale at which Apple operates, you need to have an ecosystem, a network of interacting devices, software, products, and services that work together...hardware + software is not enough. Apple, Google (and partners), Amazon, and possibly Microsoft are the only companies with the expertise and pockets deep enough to build their own ecosystems. Ok, maybe Facebook in a couple years or if Nokia can dig themselves out of their current hole, but that's really about it.
The current parts of the phone/tablet/media ecosystem are as follows:
1. A piece of hardware at a price that compares favorably to its quality and features. Apple sells premium hardware with great features at a premium-but-still-reasonable price. Google and their partners offer a range of devices at different prices corresponding to different levels of quality and features offered. Amazon offers low-price hardware with a relatively limited but appropriate set of features. Microsoft looks to have a nice piece of hardware with promising features but the price point is pending.
2. An OS that takes proper advantage of the hardware capabilities with features in line with the price of the device. Apple has iOS, with most of its devices running the same version. Google and their partners have many different versions of Android, most of which are not the most recent version. Amazon runs a customized Android OS for the Kindle Fire and a modified version of Linux for the non-Fire Kindles. Microsoft has Windows 8, which will eventually run, in different configurations, on lots of different kinds of hardware, from desktop computers to phones.
3. An app store stocked with the applications that smartphone and tablet owners want to use. Apple has the comprehensive App Store. Google, etc. have Google Play (née Android Market), Amazon's Appstore for Android, and other stores, on which you can get most of the most popular apps. Amazon has their Appstore for Android for the Kindle Fire. Microsoft has the Windows Phone Marketplace for the Windows Phone with a more limited selection than the other stores...it's unclear what their plans are for a Windows 8 app store.
4. A media store with books, movies, and TV shows. Apple has the iTunes store (as well as iBooks, Newstand, etc.). Android has Google Play. Amazon has the Kindle store and Amazon Instant Video. Will Microsoft offer a way to purchase media across their Windows 8 platform? Does Windows Media Player do this?
5. A digital media hub for managing media, apps, software updates, etc. This part is a bit more optional than the others since media management is moving to the device and the cloud, but still. Apple has iTunes. Android has a variety of possible desktop managers and management happens on the device or through the cloud? You manage the Kindle stuff through Amazon's site and on the device. Microsoft will probably go cloud/device-based at this point?
6. An integrated cloud solution for syncing apps, media, and documents across devices. Again, this isn't crucial but will likely become so over time. Apple has iCloud. Android has Google's suite of apps (Gmail, calendar, Google docs, Google Drive, etc.). Amazon uses Whispernet and is leveraging AWS in various ways (e.g. Cloud Drive). Will Microsoft leverage SkyDrive for their tablets and phones?
7. Sister devices. Apple has the iPhone, iPad, iPod touches, Apple TV, and their full line of OS X-powered computers. Android runs on phones and tablets, but can also run on an increasing number of other devices (Google TV, etc.). And maybe ChromeOS devices? Amazon doesn't really have an interacting network of devices. Microsoft will have phones, the Surface, billions of desktop computers running Windows 8, and, dare I even say it, the Xbox.
You don't need to have every single part of the ecosystem for it to thrive but the more the better. Again, Surface does look genuinely interesting (as do the Windows phones from Nokia), Windows 8 and the Metro interface look promising, and Microsoft has deep pockets but all the pieces aren't quite there yet for them. Microsoft's real opportunity here is the Xbox. If they can properly leverage and integrate the Xbox's growing status as a home media hub (Xbox Live), they can fill in a lot of the holes in their fledgling ecosystem, provide people with compelling devices & media experiences, and give Apple, Google, and Amazon a real run for their (and our) money.
In 1982, Bob Stein, Alan Kay, and Glenn Keane came up with several illustrated scenarios for a concept called the Intelligent Encyclopedia, a ubiquitous always-on electronic encyclopedia.
The most interesting thing for me today about these images is that although we foresaw that people would be accessing information wirelessly (notice the little antenna on the device in the "tide pool" image), we completely missed the most important aspect of the network -- that it was going to connect people to other people.
This hits a lot closer to the mark than many futuristic scenarios I've seen. What's interesting is that many of the panels shown would have seemed off target just two years ago before the introduction of the iPad and certainly five years ago before the iPhone. (via @steveportigal)
Amazingly, there's almost nothing to it...it's mostly battery and screen. My kids have toys that contain more components. Makes you realize that a not-insignificant part of Apple's success is essentially 3-D puzzle solving with chips, batteries, screens, and antennas as the pieces. John Gruber calls it "a remarkable engineering accomplishment" on the part of Apple, noting:
Apple doesn't make new devices which get worse battery life than the version they're replacing, but they also don't make new devices that are thicker and heavier. LTE networking -- and, I strongly suspect, the retina display -- consume more power than do the 3G networking and non-retina display of the iPad 2. A three-way tug-of-war: 4G/LTE networking, battery life, thinness/weight. Something had to give. Thinness and weight lost: the iPad 3 gets 4G/LTE, battery life remains unchanged, and to achieve both of these Apple included a physically bigger battery, which in turn results in a new iPad that is slightly thicker (0.6 mm) and heavier (roughly 0.1 pounds/50 grams, depending on the model).
50 grams and six-tenths of a millimeter are minor compromises, but compromises they are, and they betray Apple's priorities: better to make the iPad slightly thicker and heavier than have battery life slightly suffer. And keep in mind that the new iPad 3 remains far thinner and lighter than the original iPad.
It's really cool. They just started making it and not many people have one yet. It does all sorts of stuff and can fit in my pocket, but it can also get bigger than that if I want it to. Plus it's made by a company I trust to put out things that will make me happy.
(Not that I wouldn't consider buying this thing even if it weren't made by a familiar company-that's how cool this thing is-but the fact that I know and trust the company makes it even better.)
Despite my half-hearted and shameless plea on Twitter for an invite to Apple's product announcement, I am sitting at my desk in NYC today, sucking on lemons. Lemonade tastes better, so to that end I will be blogging the liveblogs blogging the announcement. Blog, bloggy, blog, blogggggggggggggg. Bla. Guh.
As a teaser, I'd like to offer the world's worst prediction for today's event: Apple announces the iPhone 5. Could you imagine though? After Apple declined the version number bump with the introduction of the 4S, what would a device need to do to warrant it? A fusion energy source? Teleportation? A camera that sees into the future? My money's on a built-in quadrotor system so that your phone could autonomously run errands for you or spy on your enemies.
Update: Notes will appear here, newest at the top.
The event is over. Thanks for joining me. I miss "one more thing". :(
So Apple has now used "iPod classic" and "new iPad" for product names. Uh, New Coke?
They are keeping the iPad 2 on sale. $399 for 16 GB Wifi model.
They *still* haven't told us the name of the new iPad. Is it just iPad? No 3 or 2S or HD or whatever?
We can now offer subscriptions on the iPad, and we can give our U.S. and Canadian print subscribers access to iPad issues at no additional cost. Before long, we hope to be able to give the same access to international subscribers beyond Canada and to existing digital-only subscribers.
Still missing (and probably unlikely to ever happen): print subscriber access to the full text of every article on the web site (not the Digital Edition, which offers a suboptimal reading experience IMO).
If you a flick a web app past the bottom or top of the page, the page itself gets elastically tugged away from the URL bar or the button bar (or the bottom/top of the screen if it's in full-screen mode).
This behavior is another giveaway that your app isn't native, and it's rarely the behavior you want in a native app.
One big advantage of native apps that cannot be addressed by HTML/CSS/JS is the browser interface itself. The Gmail web interface is fantastic, but every time I open a link in my email, the browser goes through its elaborate new window opening process. And then when I want to go back to my email, I have to touch the windows button, close the current window, and then click back on the mail window. The whole process is too inefficient and slow compared to the same process in a native app: no starting browser animation process and one touch to get back to what you're doing. If Apple addressed this issue -- say by making it possible for a web app to "open" a sub-browser with different open/close interactions instead of a full-fledged new window -- using web apps would be less of a pain in the ass.
The Feed is a new (free!) newsreader app for the iPad that syncs with Google Reader. I've been using Reeder and it's been good, but I'm not a big fan of the one-at-a-time display; I prefer the River of News approach. The Feed combines the River of News approach with a nice simple design...a lovely design, IMO. Here's how one of the app's developers put it:
The basic idea is similar in layout to Google Reader, as we both like it. You have your news items in a long scrollable canvas. A set of arrow buttons let you quickly jump from one article to the next. Articles are marked as read as you scroll past them.
He picks up his iPad and slips it into his jacket pocket. All his suits have been made with a deep inside pocket so that he can put a sketchbook in it: now the iPad fits there just as snugly. Even his tux has the pocket, he tells me.
The Japanese no-brand retailer Muji is taking an interesting approach to their iPhone and iPad apps. Instead of just having a product catalog/store app (although they have that too), they're also offering apps that are very much like the products they offer in their real-world stores. There's a simple calendaring app that syncs with Google Calendar, a notebook app for sketching and note-taking, and an app called Muji to Go that combines a bunch of different functions that travellers might need (weather, currency exchange, power socket guide).
Fresh off several years as Design Director of nytimes.com, Khoi Vinh gives his opinion of the current batch of iPad magazine apps. I think he's right on.
My opinion about iPad-based magazines is that they run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They're bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all.
The fact of the matter is that the mode of reading that a magazine represents is a mode that people are decreasingly interested in, that is making less and less sense as we forge further into this century, and that makes almost no sense on a tablet. As usual, these publishers require users to dive into environments that only negligibly acknowledge the world outside of their brand, if at all - a problem that's abetted and exacerbated by the full-screen, single-window posture of all iPad software. In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city - with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you - these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.
The launch highlights the mounting pressure on Apple Inc. to give publishers a way to sell their magazines more than one digital issue at a time. Executives from the New Yorker and its publisher, Conde Nast, say the true value of apps like the New Yorker's can't be realized until readers are allowed to purchase subscriptions.
"It is important to the New Yorker that we have offerings that allow long-term relationships with the consumers," said Conde Nast President Bob Sauerberg. "Obviously, we don't have that in place for the moment with Apple. We are very keen to do that."
Mr. Kendall, 43, described himself as a bit of a wine poseur. He has vacationed in Italy and Napa Valley and has a cellar at home, but he cannot remember a label from meal to meal. He knows just enough, or perhaps just little enough, to become suspicious whenever a waiter recommends a vineyard he does not know.
"In the back of your mind," he said, "you're always thinking: 'O.K., is this some kind of used-car special? Did they just get 200 bottles of this?' "
But Mr. Kendall said the ratings he found on the iPad -- by the wine writer Robert M. Parker Jr. -- carried credibility. He decided that the price of the cabernet franc was justified by Mr. Parker's award of 92 points out of 100. "I found a bottle of wine that I never would have tried, and it was wonderful," he said.
Over the past few days my first three apps became available on the iTunes store: Gravilux, Bubble Harp, and Antograph. I've been dreaming of this day for twenty years: a day when, for the first time, we can enjoy interactive art as a media commodity no different from books, music, and movies.
You know how iPhone and iPad have "airplane mode", which turns off all connectivity? Right under that, I want "Toddler Mode". When switched on, you'll get a dialog letting you know you are entering Toddler Mode, and an explanation of how to get out. Unlike Airplane Mode, you can't get out of Toddler Mode through settings, because there's no way Toddler Mode should allow access to the settings panel. I haven't figured out the best way out of Toddler Mode, but I'm thinking a quick triple-click on the home button, followed by a swipe, should work.
The problem with toddler mode is that the capabilities of kids change very quickly at that age. For instance, the home button is only a problem for a short time. My almost-3-yo son Ollie pretty quickly figured out that if he wanted to keep doing what he was doing, he had to lay off the home button. Now he knows exactly what it does: gets him back to the screen where he can pick a new activity. He also has no problem finding his apps...he knows exactly which of those icons mean fun and which do not.
(BTW, if you're an interface/interaction designer and you haven't watched a preschooler using a touchscreen device, you really should. It's fascinating how quickly they learn some things and just can't get the hang of other things. It's a really eye-opening experience.)
1. Why is there a comma after "The Pulse News Reader app" in the laywer's note to Apple?
2. The very same NY Times ran a positive review of the very same Pulse a few days ago. Doh!
3. Seems like all the Pulse guys need to do is unbundle the NY Times feeds and open the actual nytimes.com pages into a generic browser window and all is good.
4. I wonder why the Times et al. haven't complained about Instapaper yet. It might not technically infringe on copyright, but magazines and newspapers can't be too happy about an app that strips out all the advertising from their articles...as much as we would all be sad to see it go.
FreshDirect is an online grocery store that delivers in the NYC area. I needed to do an order this morning, so I downloaded their iPhone app on my iPad and discovered that grocery shopping is one of those things that the iPad is *perfect* for (an it would be more perfect with a native iPad app). You just take the thing into the kitchen with you, rummage through the cabinets & fridge, and add what you need to your FD shopping cart. Then you take the it with you around the rest of the house (the bathroom, the garage, the pantry in the basement) adding needed supplies as you go. It inverts the usual "wander around the grocery store searching for items" shopping practice; instead you wander about the house looking for what you need.
Obviously the iPhone would work for this as well, but a tablet-sized device is generally better at these sorts of tasks: activities where your attention is shifted back and forth between the screen and something else (or shared between two people). The iPhone is a greedy little thing; it's better for tasks that require your full attention on the screen.
In this profession, it's critical to have a break-out area where you can think without the computer looking over your shoulder; where you can do your most valuable work without the siren song of an IDE. For the same reason that getting up and even walking to the bathroom can provide new perspective on a heretofore intractable problem, it's in your own best professional interests to do as much of your work as possible before you handcuff yourself to your desk each day.
The potential of iPad is to decouple as many tasks as possible from my work environment -- and to keep me away from that environment when I'm doing things that don't actually require me to be there other than to use a computer.
I do a lot of reading and light writing for this site and I'm hoping that the iPad will allow me to do that somewhere that's not my desk. At least for a few hours a week. (via jb)
The websites of the top 10 luxury brands don't work that well on the iPad...most throw up a splash page prompting you to download Flash. This is what Cartier's site looks like:
If I were Anna Wintour, I would be screaming at these companies to fix these sites. They reflect poorly on an industry that's all about effortless style, appearance, confidence, and never, ever having a hair out of place (unless that's the look you're going for). This? This is like they've got no pants on -- and not in a good way. That goes double for restaurant sites.
Writing for the New Yorker, Ken Auletta surveys the ebook landscape: it's Apple, Amazon, Google, and the book publishers engaged in a poker game for the hearts, minds, and wallets of book buyers. Kindle editions of books are selling well:
There are now an estimated three million Kindles in use, and Amazon lists more than four hundred and fifty thousand e-books. If the same book is available in paper and paperless form, Amazon says, forty per cent of its customers order the electronic version. Russ Grandinetti, the Amazon vice-president, says the Kindle has boosted book sales over all. "On average," he says, Kindle users "buy 3.1 times as many books as they did twelve months ago."
Many compare ebook-selling to what iTunes was able to do with music albums. But Auletta notes:
The analogy of the music business goes only so far. What iTunes did was to replace the CD as the basic unit of commerce; rather than being forced to buy an entire album to get the song you really wanted, you could buy just the single track. But no one, with the possible exception of students, will want to buy a single chapter of most books.
I've touched on this before, but while people may not want to buy single chapters of books, they do want to read things that aren't book length. I think we'll see more literature in the novella/short-story/long magazine article range as publishers and authors attempt to fill that gap.
OMG, Alice for the iPad, paper kids books are dead.
Alice for the iPad is indeed really nice:
My nearly 3-year-old son loves using the iPad. At best, the iPad is a proof-of-concept gadget for adults -- they'll get it right by version three -- but it's perfect for kids right now. It's just the right size for little hands and laps and the interface is simple, intuitive, and easy to learn.
However, I'd like to assure the childless Rose that if paper books ever go extinct (they won't), paper children's books will be the last to go, particularly among the pre-K crowd. E-books are "broken" in several ways that are important to kids, not the least of which is that paper books are super useful as floors in really tall block buildings.
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Morbi erat justo, magical in semper posuere Jony Ive, molestie eget ipsum. Praesent eget erat no camera. Apple a erat sit amet ante pretium just a big iPod touch bibendum a at magna. Suspendisse Flash, sem sed tempor gravida, dolor mi auctor HTML5, vel feugiat justo metus nec diam. Maecenas quis iPad volutpat augue.
What amazes me is that you don't feel like you're using a website, or even that you're using an e-reader on a new tablet device -- which, technically, is what it is. It feels like you're reading a magazine.
You know, by people who have actually used the thing for more than 5 minutes at a press event. Walt Mossberg from WSJ:
It's qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface, can run more-sophisticated, PC-like software than a phone does, and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared with a phone's. But, because the iPad is a new type of computer, you have to feel it, to use it, to fully understand it and decide if it is for you, or whether, say, a netbook might do better.
The simple act of making the multitouch screen bigger changes the whole experience. Maps become real maps, like the paper ones. You see your e-mail inbox and the open message simultaneously. Driving simulators fill more of your field of view, closer to a windshield than a keyhole.
Also from Pogue, an interesting tidbit on how you buy access for the iPad through AT&T:
But how's this for a rare deal from a cell company: there's no contract. By tapping a button in Settings, you can order up a month of unlimited cellular Internet service for $30. Or pay $15 for 250 megabytes of Internet data; when it runs out, you can either buy another 250 megs, or just upgrade to the unlimited plan for the month. Either way, you can cancel and rejoin as often as you want -- just March, July and November, for example -- without penalty. The other carriers are probably cursing AT&T's name for setting this precedent.
The most compelling sign that Apple got this right is the fact that despite the novelty of the iPad, the excitement slips away after about ten seconds and you're completely focused on the task at hand ... whether it's reading a book, writing a report, or working on clearing your Inbox. Second most compelling: in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It's not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that's existed for quite some time.
Maybe the most exciting thing about iPad is the apps that aren't here yet. The book-film-game hybrid someone will bust out in a year, redefining the experience of each, and suggesting some new nouns and verbs in the process. Or an augmented reality lens from NASA that lets you hold the thing up to the sky and pinpoint where the ISS is, next to what constellation, read the names and see the faces of the crew members, check how those fuel cells are holding up.
I like it a lot. But it's the things I never knew it made possible -- to be revealed or not in the coming months -- that will determine whether I love it.
The iPad does perform tasks -- it runs apps and has the calendar, e-mail, Web browsing, office productivity, audio, video and gaming capabilities you would expect of any such device -- yet when I eventually got my hands on one, I discovered that one doesn't relate to it as a "tool"; the experience is closer to one's relationship with a person or an animal.
No 3G? No contracts? (Might be saving this for last/later.)
I'm looking on the photos of this thing and there doesn't seem to be a camera, video or otherwise.
The iPad appears to be a device that you use sitting down. Can you type on it while holding it standing up?
Ok, there's 3G. $15/mo for 250 MB of data. $30/mo for "unlimited".
iPad is unlocked. International SIM cards "will just work".
Price: $500. Boom. That's for the low-end model with no 3G.
Ooh, keyboard dock. If they could outfit that with a hinge and some sort of latching device, I wonder what that kind of thing would look like? (Will the keyboard work with the iPhone -- er, iPad nano -- as well?)
Will there be an iBook Reader/Store app for the iPhone?
Oh, from earlier: Jobs repositioned Apple as a "mobile devices company".
Right at the end, Jobs showed a street sign marking the intersection of "Technology" and "Liberal Arts". I guess that means that kottke.org is now in direct competition with Apple, Inc. YOU'RE GOING DOWN, STEVE!
The iPad makes the Kindle look like it's from the 1980s.
Amazon's stock price is up...it dipped a bit when the iPad's price was announced but recovered shortly after. I have heard more than a few people say that the Kindle is "dead". But one minus in the iPad column is that readability in the outdoors is not going to be so good...the iPhone in the sunshine might as well be a stone for how useful it is.
If you watch the video on Apple's site, there are now (at least) three different keyboard interactions people need to know to use Apple products. There's 10-fingered touch typing on analog keyboards, thumb typing on the iPhone keyboard, and (about 2:30 into the video) the really odd 4-fingered no-thumbs way of typing on the iPad.
Thinking ahead to the iPad 2, they'll add a video camera, right? What else?
Whoa, the zooming on the Google Maps apps (@ 3:45 in the video) looks incredible. The page flipping animation in the iBooks app though? Super cheesy. It's like in the early days of cars where they built them to look like horse-drawn carriages. Can't we just scroll?
The orientation on the keyboard dock is wrong...it should be horizontal, not vertical.
iPad is not a good name. Too close to iPod for one thing. But mainly just blah.
If the iPhone is any indication, this thing is going to be great for kids. Ollie likes playing games and looking at videos on the iPhone but the larger screen size of the iPad allows for more collaborative play...one kid + one adult or two kids using it together. The iPhone is for solitary use; the iPad can be collaborative (or at least collective). Later: Sippey calls the iPad the family computer:
It looks like a great machine to travel from the living room to the kitchen to the kids room to the bedroom. We'll search the web on it, read the news on it, the kids will do email on it, play Brushes and Bejeweled on it, and it'll be the perfect complement to the Sunday afternoon TV football ritual. We'll use it to control the music in the house, and do some quick bet-settling during dinner. I'm sure we'll eventually enjoy some multiplayer "board" games on it, or read a book on it, or watch a TV show on it. And the kids will argue with each other over who gets it next. (Dad will.)