As Mac users, Cara and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Apple’s iPad. We’ve had lengthy discussions about how this might change how we work, interact with media, or how it will make chilling on the couch looking up YouTube videos that much easier. Mostly, we’ve been excited about the interface possibilities it opens up for us as an interface as artists. For Cara, a truly interactive way to work with graphics and design that doesn’t involve a 3rd input device (a mouse or stylus), and for me, an open, customizable controller that can be anything I want it to be – a mixer, an effects pad, a drum machine, a MIDI controller, on and on and on.
After seeing all the product specs and features, I’m left a little disappointed. What I see is a really big iPhone.
I’ve done a lot of reading the last week taking in everyone’s opinions, and I’ve come to two conclusions, both of which seem contradictory but do actually express how I feel about the iPad.
More after the jump.
I’ll also assume that you know what the iPad features and capabilities are by now.
Position 1: The closed model Apple has chosen to take chokes off any innovation, and dashes the hopes of a lot of us looking for a truly new way of computing and interacting with a device.
I was really hoping for this to be the holy grail for digitally creating, and more importantly, performing music live. I have just recently gotten into MIDI control and attempting to pull some of my compositions into the live realm, mostly using Ableton Live. The prospect of having a touch controller that’s not way up in the astronomical price ranges of a Lemur or other custom kit is really exciting to me. Unfortunately, we get a closed product – yes apps will be written for it, but what about a MIDI output? What about peripherals? Create Digital Music summed it up for me with this post. I can see the promise, but I’m disappointed with the approach. And no multi-tasking? Grr.
Position 2: This is a revolution in interface design, and will change the way we interact with computers daily. It doesn’t choke off innovation, it just gives us a different path for utilizing a device. If you want something different than this, do it yourself.
I couldn’t have summed it up better than this Gizmodo post. I’m an iPhone user, and I love it. I have come to appreciate the user interface design so much on the device, I can easily see myself loving the iPad simply because of this. But, I still see the merits of having a system that is closed and perfect and under close scrutiny, as Apple has again chosen for this device. It’s not Apple’s fault, they are simply conducting a business and keeping their products running as perfectly and profitably as they can for 95% of the population. The other 5%, those of us who scream for customization, need to make our own way in the marketplace.
I guess what I’m saying is this: I’m excited to plop down on the couch and hand out with the iPad, watch some videos, play some PacMan. I’m just not sure I’m ready to go to work with it yet.