Well, Apple's non-big announcement today was of their jumbo-sized iPhone.
I mean... the iPad. (Although several times during the keynote, Steve called it the iPod. I'm surprised they didn't go back in and fix that. )
Now, this would have been a technological marvel a few years ago... before the iPhone. But now, it's just a bigger iPhone. Not all that impressive - despite Steve continually mentioning during his keynote how impressive it was. It's like making a DVD the size of a laserdisc. Big whoop.
I half-hoped it would be a real OS X capable machine, that could run real-world Mac apps (Photoshop, etc). But I can see why Apple did what they did. There are some 58 million iPhone OS devices out there, and over 140,000 apps for them. Go with what the market will support, I guess.
Some disappointing "features":
- Not a real Mac. Just a big iPhone/iPod Touch. In that regard, it's hard for me to consider it a "real" computer.
- No stylus support. Although at some point, I expect someone will create one for it for artists. I just hope they can make it pressure-sensitive. You reading this, Wacom? (No... I didn't think you were.)
- No camera. If not for video conferencing, then at least for convenience. I find all sorts of uses for my iPhone's camera, since I always have it handy. Adding that would have been what... five bucks worth of parts? I suspect that a camera peripheral for the dock connector will happen at some point (whether from Apple or someone else). A swiveling one would allow use for either video conferencing or just taking pictures/movies.
- No second dock connector for landscape mode. You can't put the iPad in the dock and say... watch movies on it. Or type documents on the keyboard/dock in landscape mode.
- No SD card slot. Although they've mitigated this a little bit with an SD card slot reader that plugs into the dock connector. But will it just support photos, or actual, usable file storage?
- No Flash in Safari. Yes, I hate Flash. But Flash is everywhere. Hopefully Apple will find a way to make this resource hogging, crashy nightmare of a technological disaster somewhat tolerable on the iPhone OS. Someday.
- No apparent Tab or arrow keys on the keyboard. C'mon, Apple.
- The "full" keyboard/dock lacks a numeric keypad. C'mon again, Apple.
- Very little mention of education in the keynote. Bad Steve! No biscuit! I suspect this may be to punish McGraw-Hill for spilling the beans about the tablet a day early. Steve's done this sort of thing before, where's he's pulled sections out of his keynote when someone's ticked him off (I think ATi once tipped off a new Mac, and Steve pulled all references to them from his keynote). Whatever happened, it was very shortsighted. They need to hype the education connection for this, so students want to start saving up to get one of these for the fall semester.
- iLife is overpriced. They should be $6.99 each, or $19.99 for all three.
But on the other hand, there are some things about it I do like:
- AT&T is not required.
- The potential (again!) for education is huge. If I was attending college this fall, and knew that my textbooks would be available for it, I'd buy one. The cost, relative to college expenses, is negligible. Besides not having to haul around 40 pounds of textbooks, you can easily type papers on it, record lectures, and run a whole bunch of useful (and fun) apps on it. I'd even favor it over a laptop, as an everyday portable. But then again... I'm not attending college this fall.
- Using it for slideshows or lectures. We have quite a few guest artists bringing in laptops for this, and the iPad would be a nice alternative, especially if it could transmit images wirelessly. It's light, easy to walk around with (try that with an open laptop), and large enough to see your presentation.
- Another possibility is music. Not musical instruments (which are already available on the iPhone), but actual sheet music. Think e-books for musicians. If you have an orchestra, band, or vocal group - imagine using these for sheet music. They could electronically display music, automatically turn pages at the correct times, be updated with any changes, and you wouldn't have to store a whole room full of sheet music (or take it with you on the road). They could all be synced to the conductor's iPad. I'm tellin' ya'... someone's going to do this. If you're a developer, it might as well be you.
- Apple's best peripheral for it so far - the folding case thing. That's some really nice design there. I hope it's durable.
- This will pretty-much destroy the Kindle and its ilk. I couldn't believe people lined up to buy those things, since they were one-trick, overpriced ponies. The low-end iPad is only $10 more than the Kindle DX. Why would anyone buy one, now? (Yes... the small Kindle is still cheaper. But again... one-trick-pony.)
- The price. I never expected $499. I figured $899. But then again, it's basically just a really big iPhone Touch, and the 64 GB model of that is $399. So less storage, but a faster CPU, a GPS and a bigger screen, for $100 more? That's pretty good. And if I was getting one of these, it would be an adjunct to my main Mac and iPhone (since the iPad isn't a phone, and even when someone eventually makes a VoIP app for it, it would look pretty silly holding it up to my face), so I wouldn't necessarily need to replace all of the functionality of either device, and therefore the low-end one would probably work just fine. Besides, I wouldn't want to pay AT&T any more money than I already am. (If they ever do get tethering working for the iPhone, odds are someone will figure out how to tether the iPad to it using Bluetooth or something.) And consider this... in a year, the price will be cheaper, the CPU will be faster, and it'll probably have double the memory. And probably some other features as well. And maybe a bigger brother... about a 12" screen would be nice. But I'm not getting one. Maybe if I travelled a lot more than I do, I'd consider it. But I don't. My iPhone is just fine.
The keynote was all rather boring, actually. It was like watching someone sit there and do stuff we've all seen before (surf the web, browse photos) on a really large iPhone. Some of the game enhancements were pretty cool, but I have no intention to buy one of these for a game machine, and I doubt anyone else will, either. The iLife demo was okay, but it already runs on a Mac just fine, and the multi-touch interface doesn't so much add anything to it, as it is a workaround for not having a mouse. On the plus side, Steve looked healthier than he has in some time. He wasn't nearly as gaunt. Although he either needs to grow out his beard, or just shave off the stubble. He and Jonathan Ive looked like a couple of derelicts.
I was disappointed Apple didn't announce anything else, but I guess that's not what this was about. I'm still hoping for an announcement about the end of the exclusivity with AT&T (although I'm still locked in for another 1 1/2 years), a new version of Final Cut Studio, Blu-Ray support, and an LED backlit 30" Cinema Display. But those, apparently, will have to wait for another day.