I used each iWork app yesterday, and while I couldn't spend enough time with them to come to a definitive conclusion, they definitely surprised me. Text-input issues aside (we'll get to that in a minute), each appeared more than capable of offering a similar, if not much improved experience, over their desktop counterparts. And for that, all credit is due to multitouch.
In Pages, one of word processing's most arduous tasks--formatting text cleanly and easily around graphical elements--has been made orders of magnitude easier with touch. Once tapped, pictures and charts can be moved, resized, rotated and masked with finger swipes, pinches and twists, as the text instantly and naturally wraps around them. Once a graphical element is touched, a contextual box can be summoned to the surface with another tap offering options unique to that element, such as its layering position, size, and the like. Again, my time with the app was brief, but the potential available once clicks and drags are replaced by our natural inclination to touch and interact with our fingers was immediately apparent.
Keynote provides a similar interface for composing presentation layouts, which are more graphically intensive and thus even better served by touch. Added to the mix is an intuitive way to rearrange sides individually or in batches with taps and swipes. And while spreadsheets may be the least exciting runt of the litter, one thing touch certainly improves is navigating to or selecting multiple cells in the document: tap, and you're there.
The apps, especially Keynote and Pages, function almost as light versions of far more advanced software like Adobe's InDesign. PopSci's art director probably won't be ditching InDesign for an iPad any time soon, but having a large tablet of the future flat on a desktop could merge the benefits of working digitally with an interface that feels more like working with a pencil and paper.
This is significant. It's the underlying concept behind all touchscreen interfaces--removing the mouse and pointer's layer of abstraction to get us back to working with our hands. Most previous attempts at a more natural and expansive touch interface have been hampered by too small a screen or inelegant design. The iPad has neither.
And in choosing productivity apps as the first test case for these new interfaces, Apple is providing a familiar stepping stone into the world of interacting with nothing-but-touch in software we've been using for decades. The first personal computers were largely about getting work done, and word processing and spreadsheets were for several years the only real software options. Apple's not plunging us into some wild, augmented reality desktop interface navigated by touch. They're weaning us off the keyboard and mouse in baby steps.
But there's still a ways to go. After about 30 minutes, my impression of typing on the iPad is that it's doable, but awkward. Apple is usually content to let users sort out such limitations for themselves, but with the iPad, they've uncharacteristically provided the option to attach a physical keyboard. Paired via Bluetooth or connected to the dock, a keyboard solves the problem of awkward text entry--and ties you to a desktop--creating a hybrid machine that's 90 percent touch, 10 percent traditional desktop PC or laptop.
The iPad, then, is a transition to a future when, in Apple's mind, multitouch is so good that we no longer need anything but a screen. Whether that's an appealing place for you or something that sounds dreadful, Apple obviously has a vision of the future for which they're smartly and methodically laying groundwork. And once the text input problem is solved (hyper-accurate handwriting or speech recognition, perhaps?), you can bet that's the future we'll have.
No Flash end of story.
You can not have a better browsing experience
without being able to access all of the internet (fail)
I could live without a camera for my skype,
or being able to run multiple applications at one time,
but I will not accept it not working with flash.
Yeah, Flash is almost as common on websites as wheels on a car. Without it this is a nonstarter.
Flash, smash. Agreed: some angst in the short term but real gain and security in the long term with HTML5 (long term = 1 yr or more). Expect some, if not most, of the issues resolved in Ver 2, just like the iPhone. Sitting on the sidelines until then is OK. However, the bar you set for participation isn't necessarily shared but others. Surprised?
??? no flash, no running multiple apps? this is more like an enlarged version of the Iphone than an actual computer...
as far as what the Ipad should have been and what it actually is=FAIL.
I can definitely see deticated touchscreen computers that can be used to quickly do our bidding.
These are PERFECT for the engineering, designing, artistry, and logistic fields.
I.E. Easy access to data, 3d diagrams, dynamic interfaces, productivity(and i do not mean apple store prod. apps).
It has a lot of potential that's probably going to be filled by other companies like Microsoft, Google.
I'm glad apple is what it is: a mass produced public prototype company.
I'll wait till someone hacks a Windows OS onto one before I consider getting one, end of story.
For those who already own an iphone/ipod touch, i understand your frustrations with the ipad for you its really nothing new right now, we get it. But consider the implications a device like this could serve in the future as a replacement to netbooks/laptops. My parents are the most computer handicaped people on the planet but I know if they were to pick one of these up, they would have no difficulty operating it. Apples success derives mainly from their simplicity in design, so this is only a step in the RIGHT direction. And as for those hardcore Linux user complaining about the future of Totalitarian Apple takeover, this is still a niche device so you still get to keep your basement Swordfish setup. And I'm sure for those who are students (myself included) this device is a godsend. I for one absolutely approve.
Has anyone here even bothered to read this story? I guess not. Apple has finally perfected the internet.
@dolbydigital2 maybe so, but even my parents surf sites that use flash. and they run multiple programs at once. not that the ipad couldn't do those things, it just doesn't. which was a flawed decision imo.
@boka no, apparently you are the only one possibly intelligent enough to read and fully comprehend that string of words up there. congratulations!
give me a freaking break.
this device is pathetic.
why don't you write about something usefully for a change?
No company gets everything right on the first try. Every product has revisions and upgrades. Undoubtedly, the ability to use Flash and to run multiple programs will come with future units. If they can manage to find a good solution to text entry, the Ipad will wipe out netbooks. Yes, it is more expensive than some of the units out already, but Apple has shown over and over that people will spend more for their designs. The real progress is in the multi-touch interface. Apple may final succeed in killing the mouse and keyboard.
The people saying lack of flash is a non-starter are a mystery to me. In all my browsing the ONLY thing I ever use flash for is video - video that they can deliver to the iPhone directly instead of going through a flash player (which is what a lot of sites do today when you visit on an iPhone, like Break.com for example). You miss out on a few flash games, but gain tens of thousands of games you can get through the app store. There are so many games now you could probably spend a year doing nothing but playing free trial versions - and all of them work on the tablet, at launch.
It's also funny that so many people are focused here on Flash and browsing, when the whole point of the article is explicitly about non-browsing applications and how Touch can make them better.
Like Kgeiner, I'm wondering the reason for all this emphasis on Flash. As far as I can tell, all Flash does is present truly obnoxious advertising and burn up my CPU so I have to restart my browser.
When, not if, I get my iPad, the lack of flash is something I will appreciate, 99 web pages out of 100.
I would be curious to hear what others think of the new iWork. I was pretty darn impressed by the demonstrations. I think it will be a lot of fun to create documents using iWork on the iPad.
If this is at all similar to the trajectory of iPhone users, a lot of you will be joining me in line when this thing actually becomes available :-).
Flash is everywhere. This text box im typeing in probably uses flash. Flash runs in the background like pipes in a city's water system. So its like saying "I never see pipes, I never use them!"
YOUTUBE uses flash for its videos.
I use my iPhone for a lot of web browsing today, and so I can tell when I'm using Flash by the little icon that indicates plugin incompatibility. I view a very large variety of web sites, and it is extremely rare (I would say no more than one out of every 100 web sites I visit) that I see a site that's unviewable without Flash.
Thor, I have very rarely seen a text box on a web form using Flash, but just in case you were right, I checked the source of this page. I am currently typing in a perfectly standard textarea element, just as I would have expected. No flash.
I can tell when I'm seeing text (as opposed to graphics) in flash because it is not anti-aliased and looks absolutely dreadful. If you're looking at very difficult to read text on the web, it's almost certainly flash.
Youtube has H.264 versions of most of its videos that you can view on the iPhone, so you're set there already.
If you are so pissed that this is not a "serious" computing device, just download the SDK and code what you need for it ... what's that?, you can't write your own apps? - I get it, the people who run winblows think they are the "real" computing community. They dismiss this device as easily as many did the first iPods and iPhones. I agree that Steve Jobs mis-marketed the thing and I'm not a fan boy.
My phone is the Nokia E61i, which 3 years ago was recording video and accessing YouTube (as well as saving YT vids locally), it blew the iPhone away before the iPhone even hit the market - good thing nobody has wasted their money buying iPhones. [/sarcasm]
I might pick this up gen-2 just to surf the web and check email on the sofa at home, but maybe that's what 40% of the computing market uses machines for anyway (like my mother and father), and those non-power users are not reading and commenting on engadget and popsci.
@gda. it has an iPhone OS, Iphones have gone through 4 generations. How many tries does it take!!!
@dolbydigital2. The potential is there, I agree. But they just utterly fail at realizing i, or doing something about it. Apple likes controlling their customer base as much as a dictatorship does.
@david. I -think- the iphoneOS tries to convert flash websites and sometimes fails. You should see how many errors I have listed everytime I visit websites. although flash doesnt kill it for me as much as no multitasking does. Apple is probably doing this because of user friendliness, but the more 'user friendly' apple makes their product, the more restricted and utterly retarded it is as a technology item.
@rgcnyc The 1st iphones SUCKED. A lot of the linux and mac community is upset as well. Everyone was thinking they were getting to use a fully touchscreen computer, not an oversized iTouch.
@Meshca "Everyone was thinking they were getting to use a fully touchscreen computer, not an oversized iTouch." Everyone thought whatever they wanted to think about the device, and they were wrong. If they don't want to get an iTouch with a 10inch screen, they don't have to buy one but should get an HP Tablet instead. Those people had unrealistic expectations, but my wife, my parents, and my boss all want an "uncomplicated" computer like this they can use for light computing and silly games, that's 4 people who I know who will buy one as soon as they are available. Me, I'll wait and see what jailbreaking and 3rd party apps will bring. I think people are still idiots for buying iPhones today, but they seem to like 'em.
I know they have this new a4 chip but I think the larger screen and all these new apps are going to slow this machine down, this could be why the ipad does not feature flash, nevertheless less I am certain the second gen will be fantastic and I will defiantly buy it
A user can't use the touch screen features with flash. Flash is like its own universe within the web. I know because I'm a flash designer. Flash should be kept out of the iProducts.
I'm currently using a pen-and-touch tablet from Wacom. It does multitouch gestures and the convenience of pointing with your finger, coupled with the precision of a stylus when you need it. When I go back to a mouse, I find it slow and imprecise (not to mention hard on the wrists). So I definitely see a future for multitouch.
On the other hand, it's not clear how this should work at the desk. An upright multitouch monitor is not practical for continuous use. It would have to be brought down, ideally below the level of a standard desktop, perhaps at a 15 degree slope. But that makes it difficult to use the desk for anything else. (I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly haven't eliminated papers from my life.) It also makes it difficult to discuss screen contents with other people. The control tablet, separated from the screen, may take a little more adjustment, but is easier to incorporate into your desk environment (mine is next to the keyboard on a pull-out keyboard drawer) and once you do adjust is very nearly as quick as on-screen touch.
I have a feeling that people will find uses for these things that are not being mentioned here.
Recently I saw a guitarist/vocalist flipping madly through his loose notes on a music stand. He didn't have time to find the lyrics he was looking for, so he faked his way through it.
An iPad could offer an index he could simply reach out and touch to see the lyrics, large, clear and nicely lit up so he could sing properly.
Could a musician use an iPad to compose and perform music? Is it a poor-man's teleprompter? The convenience of having all your notes in a single tablet that won't float away in the breeze...that's pretty good.
Just think on the millions of people that uses a laptop PC with windows for surfing the web, e-mail, chatting, videos, photos and office work. And they have problems with windows, (or mac os X in less degree), besides the virus and hacks. You handle them the Ipad and...forget many problems! Besides, they can use it as agenda, calendar. Why do they need a PC? There are people who handles windows and software issues very well, but we are not the majority. Think about...Ah! And 10 hours battery!!
There's an elephant in i-pad's room. It's very hard on the eyes to read books on a backlt LCD screen such as the i.pad has. That's why e.ink readers like Kindle and others have taken off. People who buy the i.pad for reading books are going to be very disappointed, if they don't go blind first. If they'd had a pixel qi screen and a real keyboard instead of a virtual one, Apple would be in front of the crowd on this one, instead of a hundred miles behind it.
This shirt would be C O O L to wear at the Groundhog Festival in Punxsutawney This Summer! Phil might even be replaced by a robot by then - if PETA has any pull.
It's usually Pandora that gets brought up. "I want to be able to stream music while doing other things". Apple bought Lala.com. Expect streaming music in itunes sooner rather than later.
Particularly with these mobility devices, if you are not actively manipulating the program, you do not need or want a program to be using system recourse. Android devices (as an example) "multitask" albeit with limitations. Yes, some widgets can run in the background, but your average app shuts down, functionally speaking, when it is not on screen.
Disreguarding lack of flash and typing issues... is there anyone else who wants to know the specs of this thing? at most its a thin tablet pc. but what can it do? is it running on an atom? ARM? Core? Phenom? how much ram?, speed of ram? storage? SSD? HDD?, graphics power? can it play HD video? hdmi/dvi out? cmon specs ppl specs!
No SSD,no multitasking,no USB ports, and infested with DRM end of story I don't want one.
I'll buy a touchbook instead it'll do everything the iPad can do and more, costs less and does not sound like a bust enhancing product.
Has a real desktop OS Ubuntu vs a crippled phones OS
It also has 10hours of battery life, can multitask,plays 720p video even on external screens,and is expandable oh and it cost $200 less.
The iPad has a 1ghz arm core processor called A4 and runs iphone OS 3.3.2.
In short it's a just a big ipod touch or an over priced nettop depending on how you look at it.
The lack of multitasking,USB storage support and an SSD slot are unforgivable omissions as even a $199 chinese netbook has these features.
I still expect a lot of people will buy one because it's trendy and it's Apple.
Hey Everyone! If you want flash and multiple apps, you make it!