Saturday, March 13, 2010

GADGETS: How the iPad could force you to shower.

This week was iPad pre-order day, and among all of the hoopla, I happened to catch this post on Ars Technica. Behold, in only two months Apple took user feedback from people who got to handle their pre-release iPads, and put a solution in place for a rotation lock.

Their solution? Change the hardware mute switch to a hardware rotation lock switch.

So, yes. They took constructive criticism, and banged out a rapid response to consumer desire. Unfortunately, the method by which they accomplished this kludge represents the worst possible failure of Apple's organizational and management structure.

Who thought of this idea? It's an awful awful idea. They need to start thinking along the lines of the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad all basically being the same device, and the hardware tilt-lock switch screams "three teams that don't communicate!" at me. I'm not only complaining, though. Look, I have a constructive idea for what they should have done instead of a hardware solution.

Put rotation lock in the operating system.

Let the iPad launch fly with a mute switch. Tell people, hey, we know it doesn't tilt-lock yet. We hear you. We're fixing it across the entire iDevice line. Then release a new version of the OS for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad that includes a software managed tilt-lock. Here's how it should have worked. You multi-touch any two adjacent corners of your iDevice screen. Now that edge is locked to be the bottom until you release it by multi-touching those corners again, or multi-touch another pair of corners, making those the bottom.

I recognize this modification would also require a line in the Setup options to enable or disable tilt-lock, and probably some API changes, to allow apps to ignore tilt-lock for whatever reason. But what people would rather have than an awful kludge is something clever and useful. I hate it when I try to use my iPhone laying down. I wish I had a tilt-lock on it. I'm sure iPod touch users feel the same way. Doesn't Apple want the iBook store to be awesome for their entire touchscreen iDevice line? Some people just aren't going to buy an iPad. But those people could still buy iBooks. Seriously, Apple. Think things through, guys. The iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad are all awesome, and fill slightly different needs, but at their core they're the same device. Also, while I'm on the subject, why the crap are the analog switches on the opposite side from the iPhone? What's wrong with you guys?

Now that I have that out of the way, here are some things they got right and my thoughts on whether or not you should buy an iPad.

Power management. This is something that Apple gets right, and seemingly nobody else in the consumer electronics business has grasped yet. Apple mobile devices manage batter power so much more effectively than any other company, I can hardly understand it. Battery power is EVERYTHING to your mobile device. It's something Apple picked up on when they first put out the iPod, and they've been consistently getting it right ever since.

User interface. The interface is super stylish and awesome, and from Dillinger's desk in TRON to every control surface in Star Trek: The Next Generation, I continue to wonder why more devices aren't being made with super-magic on-the-fly formattable touch screen interfaces.

Are you a mass-transit commuter? Do you spend an hour or so of down time on a bus or train? If yes, the iPad 3G is probably a handy gadget for you to have. Read a book, browse the web, watch a movie, write stuff for work... All on a thing that weighs a pound, and is super awesome and nifty. There's even already a case for it available from Apple that folds out into a triangle so it's oriented on your lap for typing.

Are you a business traveler? You probably need a netbook. The iPad is not intended to replace a laptop, and it can't do everything you want to do on a laptop. It probably should have been intended to replace a laptop, but alas, Apple sells those too.

Do you like to read a lot? The iPad is a little less convenient to carry around than a Kindle, and you probably already own a Kindle. Also, the Kindle's magic etch-a-sketch ink consumes next to zero battery life. You can read a Kindle almost forever on one charge. The iPad's battery lasts +/-10 hours. Don't get me wrong, 10 hours is an amazing feat of power consumption for an iPad. It's just considerably less than forever. Super iPad also costs almost three times as much as a Kindle, and doesn't come with a free global wireless access to its book downloading service.

Are you an Apple fanboy and/or do you love awesome gadgets and have some disposable income? Definitely get one. iPad 2.0 needs your help and financing to be a billion times better than iPad 1.0. Your technolust will do literally every nerd on the planet a favor, because iPad 2.0 is going to be the most amazing thing anyone has ever conceived. iPad 2.0 (and likely that generation of iPhone) will have 2 cameras, one on screen-side for video conferencing and one on the back for augmented reality. iPad 2.0 will have a repulsively huge solid state hard drive, and a couple of USB ports. iPad 2.0 will realize it needs to replace a laptop, and not be an extra unnecessary device. And let me jump back a second. iPad 2.0's cellular phone hardware will replace your home phone, and with a you-facing camera and screen, iPad 2.0 and that generation of iPhone could make video phone calls a reality. That thing that's existed in science fiction forever could finally catch on, and the next generation of iDevice could be what makes it happen.

Get ready to shower daily!

No comments:

Post a Comment