By now I'm sure you've heard a lot about the new iPad 2. I wanted to take a couple days to really get my thoughts in order on it. It's nice to see that the specs were bumped a bit, with the dual-core A5 processor and 9x faster graphics. I presume the RAM has been bumped from 256 MB to at least 512 MB, if not 1 GB. But are specs all that we care about?
The Post-PC Era
Apple is labeling the iPad as a "Post-PC Device." With PCs (as a whole, Mac, Windows, etc) we have always focused on how fast the processor is, how much RAM, and countless other things to measure by. But I tell you what, the only people I know who care about those things are geeks like me. My wife, my parents, my sisters- and brothers-in-law, and a fair number of my friends don't care about those things because they don't even truly understand what all that stuff means.
What normal folks really care about are whether something is easy to use, reliable, and, most importantly, how fast it feels.
By all rights and means, the first iPad is a slouch compared to my MacBook Pro. Heck, you might even say it's a slouch compared to the iBook G4 that I used through most of college. But it feels faster. Everything is absolutely fine-tuned, and absolutely, utterly responsive. And the iPad 2 will take that even further.
Here is my big "the iPad is the future" story:
My grandmother is absolutely afraid of touching a computer. She will not touch my grandfather's Mac out of fear of breaking something. For someone who has lived since before computers were even invented, and has seen them evolve before her eyes, she is afraid of them. Only recently has she started to use an old iMac my grandpa picked up, but she really only uses it for little card games.
Shortly after I got my iPad, my grandparents visited, and I was excited to show off my new device. I handed it to Grandma first.
"What is this?" she asked?
"It's an iPad. I think this is the future of computers." I replied.
She tried to hand it back immediately. I assured her she couldn't mess it up. She stared at it a moment, then pressed the home button. The screen lit up, and prompted her to slide the unlock bar. She did so. I told her to open iBooks.
Then, all on her own, without me explaining anything, she tapped on Winnie-the-Pooh. She began reading, and instinctively dragged her finger on the edge of the "page" and "flipped" it. All this without me telling her how to use it. And then something interesting happened: after reading for a few moments, I observed my grandmother forget that she was holding a slab of aluminum and glass — because she lightly licked the tip of her finger before turning the page. The iPad became a book to her.
When she was finished, she inquired how to close iBooks, but before I could answer, she figured it out by pressing the home button. She said it just made sense since it was the only thing on the front.
People like my grandmother are who the iPad is really made for. The future of computing is dissolving the perception of hardware, and letting the software tell a story and establish a relationship with the user.
One of the best apps for that is FaceTime.
FaceTime has been on the iPhone 4, latest iPod touch, and Macs for the better part of a year now. I know a lot of folks who don't really get FaceTime. Granted, a lot of those people I know don't have kids, and kids make FaceTime invaluable.
My family uses FaceTime at least once a week. My wife, son, & I live quite a way everybody in our family. We use FaceTime to talk with our parents, with my sister-in-law, and each other when one of us has to be away. Now, I think we could get by with audio calls to the folks if we didn't have a son. FaceTime would be used less frequently. But kids grow up fast, and grandparents love to see their grandkids. And my wife's youngest sister is halfway across the country, we rarely see her. So FaceTime is great.
And hey, my mom is psyched to have an iPad with FaceTime.
The one thing that really captures my attention with the iPad 2 is the case. It attaches magnetically, and puts the iPad to sleep when the cover is closed, and wakes it when pulled away. It just seems like it was done right. I have Apple's case for the first iPad, and I mostly like it. That said, the reasons why I like it are the same reasons I'd like a Smart Cover for the iPad 2. I like that it can set the iPad at an incline for typing and that it can prop it up as a view screen.
But the parts I don't like are what a Smart Cover fixes. The first iPad case makes the iPad noticeably thicker, and it is difficult to remove or put on. The Smart Cover fixes those two gripes. See for yourself below.
Overall, the iPad 2 is a small update that means big things for the future. The goal for this iteration is focused on being thinner, lighter, faster, and connecting people. If you don't believe the kind of impact the iPad can have on people's lives, watch the video about the first year of the iPad. The last few moments will grab your heart.