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Questions About the Apple iPad

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Well, the Apple tablet, the “iPad” was just announced. I was fairly accurate with my predictions for the device: 9.6 in. screen, 3G internet connection, $499 price tag. Now that we have the details we’re left wondering how this fits into our repertoire of technological devices. What can it do for me?

Developers seem to be on the fence. For the most part we’re thinking it’s too phone-like to replace our laptops, and too big to be a phone—why would I shell out $500?

I think that rather misses the point. Sad as it is to say it: developers, this isn’t for us. You can get bigger hardware bang-for-your-buck elsewhere, and you’ll probably never be able to code on this thing.

But the key is that it’s genius for the casual crowd. The people who mostly just browse the web, watch youtube videos, and shoot off the occasional email will likely find it a beautiful and ideal device to kick back with on the couch. The Kindle owners also have to start wondering what they’re doing on an expensive, even more limited device.

Furthermore, it’s genius for the publishers. With newspapers dying, publishers are begging for a bailout. Built-in monitization solutions are the future of computing. And in this day and age, how long did we really expect a black-and-white, static display (i.e. the Kindle) to be the dominant device for reading?

In any case, I have lots of outstanding questions about the device, and some of the answers will perhaps make a difference in its success:

  1. How usable is the screen in direct sunlight? To truly convince the Kindle owners it will have to be very good at this (though I’m not suggesting convincing all the Kindle owners on the technical merits is actually that important to market domination).
  2. Is multi-tasking supported? If not, are there push notifications? There hasn’t been any sign of them. How do I even know if I have new emails?
  3. Is the strangely spacious home screen featuring tiny icons really the best interface? I’m assuming that’s to make the device trivial for iPhone users to work with, but couldn’t that space be used for something awesome?
  4. Still no wireless syncing?
  5. Can I run the applications I’ve already purchased for my iPhone on both devices, or will that require a second license (/purchase)?
  6. Considering the size, is it possible to use the keyboard without setting the device down? Seems like that would be horribly annoying.
  7. Is there a general purpose filesystem? With the addition of more fully-featured applications like the iWork suite, isn’t it time to move past the filesystem restrictions of the iPhone OS and allow for sharing of files between apps?
  8. Are we developers getting an iPad simulator soon? I see it’s already available.
  9. Will there be an iBookstore and reader for Mac OS?
  10. Can I connect it to my TV to share multimedia content I’ve purchased with others?

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