Reflections on iPad

I’d like to post my reflections on using iPad for productivity and use for writing and brewing information and using in the context of asynchronous and flexible learning. It seems to me that iPad is a very powerful idea but not well executed yet. Perhaps it is because we are the early adopters and are going through the phases of the first version. Perhaps some feature of iPad will stay this way for this is the way it was designed.

I think the most powerful feature of iPad is it’s extreme flexibility and a beautifully designed interface. Other than these two general areas, the device is not intuitive enough to work with easily because it takes quite a bit to get used to the glass surface keyboard combined with a spellchecker with quite a mind of it’s own.

iPad shines in several areas. The interface, weight, the form factor, the design, in all these areas, it’s quite a nice device to use on a regular basis. However, it also has a steep learning curve in terms of learning to use the onsreen keyboard since it needs different kind of orientation than a regular keyboard that at least I am used to. It’s very crampy and there will likely to be ergonomic issues wifh this.

I realized that it is essentially a device to shoot off a short email or a short blog post at best, for longer tomesi one is well advised to resort to a proper computer, which is rather sad because it is then essentially a glorified printer and web browser on your hand. Reading PDF or webpages (those that are supporated in the Safari browser are quite stunning and one can see that apps like flipboard (free app to browse social networking sites and specific preselected blog posts and RSS feeds or newspaper sites are quite stunning. Thus it is essentially still a browsing machine, as opposed to a true device that allows certain amount of easy interactivity that has come to define the way of life in web 2.0 era.

Can it shine as a tool to foster education? On the one hand I think it has a great potential in the right “hands” to be a killer device to present data and information on an ever present always on manner. On the other hand, it does not play well with the dominant open source free widely deployed Moodle LMS very well. The lack of interactivity because of the clunky keyboard may also be a problem. Plus, the pay now and try model of the app store may not go down well with the student community unless the prices of the hardware really were to come down.

That said, I think it’s a great device for syncing computers, web services, cloud computing solutions (it did renew my interest in creating everything in text mode such as latex/emacs), and be a boost for always-on online small footprint based computers. Perhaps it is possible to refurbish old computers and keep them for document writing and productive work while moving all needs for surfing the web and storing documents as PDFs on a device like this. I’d resist the idea to use separate keyboards and other additional devices with this one. I’d rather learn it the hard way to adjust the keyboard, learn to use markdown language mode rather than sticking to old ways of work using word processors in a tiny machine such as this one.

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