Discussion 3: Confessions of an Appoholic

Do you think that the ipad lacks ‘information production’ – the word processing capability that we are used to on PCs?

There are couple of things to consider about the iPad before I tackle this question:

  • We have been trained to over think and anticipate the needs of PCs.
  • Fewer hardware choices are not a bad things
Firstly, we have been trained through years of use of computers that we have to have a certain degree (quite a high degree in fact) of competency in using the powerful PC.  This has been true for quite some time– who hasn’t been moving files on their Dell and accidentally misplaced a system file that crashes the entire system?  The way that Apple has really changed this face of computing is that they have become intuitive and less-likely to break (I would say unbreakable, but I just got a new computer and there isn’t any wood handy for me to knock on).  We have to get over our fear of ‘breaking the machine’ by doing something wrong in order to unleash the potential of these machines.  I find the fearlessness of my nephews is the key to their three-year-old minds being able to conceptualize and navigate the iPad: they aren’t afraid to break it, so they mash sticky little fingers against the screen until Elmo does what they’re expecting.  On the contrary, with my recently retired parents (recent iPad adapters), I get regular calls from them that they would like to try something new on the iPad, but thought they should ask if it would break if they did it.  Often times I find that the issues of information production are grounded in our assumptions about how we used computers before (need a keyboard, mouse, can’t touch the screen, etc.).
In the presentation, there was discussion of accidental navigation and low discoverability of touchable spaces– I would argue that this is because we aren’t used to doing the intuitive exploration (we couldn’t in the past, might break something), but instead trying to figure out the tricks of the machine.  As we become more accustomed to these machines, these two challenges will diminish considerably.
To continue that trend, with most Microsoft, there is so much choice.  In Futureshop we’re bombarded by the fastest and clearest machines with the biggest memory (cameras, computers, etc.).  Yes, speed will make a difference to a hardcore gamer, a video editor, etc., but for the e-mail and recipe hunting majority, there are simply too many choices that in the end don’t make a discernible difference in the user’s experience.
All in all, I think we need to give it a little more time to understand the differences in the machine.  Apple takes a lot of flack for not allowing Flash on these machines, but like the iTunes store did away (a sweeping comment, probably better made in a few years) with DVDs, Apps are doing the same.  The popular phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ has become quite true.
PS: I am a pretty huge fan of the Apple products… I think that likely comes through:)
Posted in: Week 09: iPad Apps