This week, Steve Jobs of Apple announced to the world the much anticipated tablet computer by Apple. There was much speculation around the release of the machine with the street name of iSlate. However, Jobs put this all to rest when he introduced the world to the iPad. Looking much like an oversized version of the iPhone, this machine had immediate image appeal.
Now, in full disclosure, I started with an Apple II (back in the day) then moved to a Toshiba laptop running DOS. My first desktop was an Osborne running Windows for workgroups. We use Microsoft products as school and most of my computers at home run various versions of MS Office or Open Office. That being said, I have always admired the design sense of Apple. Their marketing is second to none and they have established a niche of dedicated followers. I joined those followers when I crossed over-dumping my Windows phone for an iPhone. This is one device where I believe Apple has really taken command-they did it right. Well, that is except for the fact that my iphone is still behind bars.
So, you can imagine my surprise and joy when I saw the new iPad. A sleek device that was just over a pound. Looking like the iPhone, it appears as if it will be very easy to use. It is complete with a port for adding a docking station and one of those really cool Apple wireless keyboards. I could imagine myself moving around campus directing my classes and research with this sleek new device. The night of the release, I found myself looking at all the information from Apple. With a starting price of $499, I was ready to place my order. In my mind, I already had one headed my way.
Ah…then reality hit as I stared to get into the specs, blogs and reflect further on what this would mean for education. Here was a chance for Apple to really take the netbook/tablet world to new levels- and they gave us a 9 inch iPhone. Now, you already know I love my iPhone. But this device seems to be nothing more than a very large iPhone. Here is the Huge Miss.
The iPad seems to be lacking any ports other than the docking port. True to Apple form, the only things that will dock with the iPad are Apple products. This means that there is no USB port or memory expansion slot on the iPad. The Toshiba netbook I am using to write this post has 3 USB ports and an SD memory expansion port. I was thinking of getting the 16 GB iPad and using memory expansion cards to extend its usability- No Go. Hey, my iPhone has 16 GB and my wife’s has 32 GB. It would seem that the memory of the iPad is similar to the device I wear on my hip every day! Now my phone does not have extra memory but neither does the iPad…hm. Well, I guess I will have to learn to live with that restriction.
Looking further into the feature set of the iPad I discovered that I would be limited to only applications that could be accessed through iTunes! What? And you call that a feature (you ask)? Why does Apple feel the need to control everything I might want to install on my iPad? I am putting up with that on my iPhone but only until the warranty is up. Then it is JAILBREAK TIME! Do I really want to purchase and use another computer (yes, the iPhone is a computer) that is in prison? As I read the early hype on the morning of release, as I watched Jobs introduce his latest creation to the world, I imagined a $499 state-of-the –art slate computer for under $600 where I could install open-source (Open Office and Audacity) applications and leverage the cloud for additional functionality. But now I see that I can only install that which Apple wants me to install. THIS IS NOT RIGHT! I don’t like the limitations with my iPhone and I hate the thought of these limitations on my computer. The Toshiba netbook which captured these words has no such limitations. My wife’s latest ASUS netbook is also unrestricted. My Linux netbook loves open source and cloud computing and the 5 OLPC XO’s I use for research also enjoy greater freedoms.
Now I am frowning. What was Apple thinking? OK, so it is a large iPhone with limited memory, expansion capabilities and software options but it has multi touch. My Toshiba does not have that. Multi-touch is good- very cool. So what can I do with that? How will MT make my life better? How will this iPad MT assist in teaching and learning? I don’t know but it is cool! Maybe I can resize my Youtube window while sliding my presentation across the screen. Very useful, yes?
What?!…the iPad does not support muiti-tasking? Is this true? Do you mean I can’t have a video playing while I chat with a friend and work on a paper? Does Apple have no sense of how people work today? It is not like I am trying to drive while texting! Let me multi-task on my computer! At this time, I have word open while simultaneously viewing the iPad specs. Oh, that’s right, this is a Toshiba netbook, not the iPad. I guess that will not be possible.
So..why would Apple do such a great job creating anticipation over their entry into the world of netbook/tablet computers then create such a limited machine? I don’t know but I really would have loved to be in some of those design meetings. So, as I sit in this airplane getting closer to Philadelphia and Educon 2.2 to meet with educators from all across the country, I find myself wondering what others are thinking regarding this latest offering from Apple. Is this going to be the next “great thing” to enter the American Classroom? I think not. Will the iPad find its way onto my desk? Why would I want it when I would be forced to sit on my hands? Would you buy a car from a company who set physical limits on destinations by forcing you to only visit places offered through their “destination store”? I think not! No, the iPad is not for me and I don’t see how, in its current form, will be for education. For the same price, I can purchase from a long list of netbook companies, machines that have virtually no limits set on them regarding content, application and expansion. So for now, I will let my credit card sit in my wallet and dream of a day when all computers can roam as free as this netbook.