It continues to amaze me how focused some very vocal folks are on what they believe the iPad “can’t” do. Specifically:
-no file system
-no external hardware/media connectivity
What’s bizarre to me is why these folks can’t see that all of these can – and almost certainly will – be addressed by Apple in time. And in the meantime, most of these will have workable solutions out of the box. Let’s take them one at a time:
-Flash. I do not believe Flash will ever be on the iPad (or iPhone). SJ’s intransigence on this point seems to have closed that door firmly. But does anyone believe that HTML5, an open standard, won’t ultimately swamp the use of Flash? And by ultimately I mean in roughly 2 years time. Further, does anyone believe that if the iPad pans out the way I think it will (which is to say – a massive success) that sites like Hulu and others won’t do what YouTube did, and convert their library to h.264 or another iPad/iPhone compatible format? If you say no, then I would ask: why would these sites leave so much money on the table?
-No Camera: Whether you believe those “replacement parts” obtained by that random firm in the midwestern part of the U.S. and ‘revealing’ a spot for a camera really are iPad parts or not, a front facing camera in the iPad makes too much obvious sense for it not to come sooner or later. My guess is it will come in Rev B, call it April 2011, at the latest, when an LTE/4G version will be made available. Video chat is great over wifi. 3G? Not as much. LTE? Now you’re talking. So to speak. And if SJ decided to slip it (back?) into Rev A before they ship? It wouldn’t shock me.
-No multi-tasking. Here again, does anyone *really* believe that Apple won’t ever update the OS with “multi-tasking”? Seriously? I put “multi-tasking” in quotes to point out the difference between the capability and the technology that underpins it. When grousing about this, people usually complain about an inability to do X and Y at the same time. Usually, it’s some combination of multiple live tabs in a web browser, chat, email, and/or Office tasks.
Multi-tasking can be offered in different ways of course. It can be offered in a way similar to that on an OSX based MBP for instance – practically unlimited applications and windows, the ability to size them as you like, shuttle info between them as you like, etc. Basically, push the hardware as much as you can stand to or need to.
But I think there’s plenty of reason to believe that Apple can bring a greater focus to the user experience, rather than to the “feature” itself. For example – maybe it’s a simple multi-tasking environment. You can choose a simple two app layout in landscape, and a 4 app layout in portrait. And maybe Apple also gives the ability to have multiple ‘pages’ of app combinations.
I’m spitballing, but I really think the iPad is about getting away from computing dynamics as we know them today, and focusing instead on the user experience. The iPhone is so wonderful in this regard and I expect the iPad to follow. The iPad seems to have a laser like focus on the “most of the people most of the time” angle. This type of solution would fit right in with that focus.
-No file system. Here again I think we need to get away from the paradigm we’re used to: nested folders, file-type extensions, etc. and instead focus on creating, storing, sharing and manipulating our data when and as we need it. Does that require a “file system” as we have on our MBPs? Of course not. We already know that the iPad 3.2 SDK talks about application data (i.e. files) living on the device in a way that is transparent to the user and readily available within the given application. What we don’t know is whether/how data will be able to be addressed from one application to another in the current iteration. But do you really think that Apple won’t allow you to do this? Ever? Really?
-No external hardware/media connectivity. Let’s break this into two parts. First, the hardware. It’s often pointed out that I can’t hook up a printer/scanner/camera/keyboard/mouse via USB for instance. These grousers usually neglect to point out that BT and/or wifi can provide such connectivity for printers, scanners, and keyboards. Will we see it for cameras? Time will tell but my guess is yes. And in general, for my money, wireless > wired. And with the wonders of multi-touch we don’t need mice anymore 🙂
Onto the media. Here again I think so much of us are focused on the existing paradigms. True there are no USB, e-SATA, FW, or ethernet jacks on the iPad. But between mobileme/iDisk and similar services, the ubiquity of wifi-based file sharing on existing computers, the decreasing cost of bandwidth over time, the decreasing cost of local storage over time, big-media’s inevitable push for lock-box based cloud storage with DRM, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t as important as people make it out to be.
Is the iPad forward looking and forward thinking? Of course. Is it extremely capable as is? Of course. What’s a shame to me is how so many people can’t seem to accept either. I guess we’ll all see in time 🙂