Nuthin Up My Sleeve But This Little Ol’ iPad

| Just a Thought

Each time there is a major product release or update from Apple Steve Jobs and his crew clam up tighter than a California facelift.

Well, that’s true for the official channels anyway. Somehow leaks, sneaks, and peeks always manage to make their way to the public forum, resulting in a feeding frenzy so fierce it’d make a pond full of half starved piranha devouring a wildebeest look like a leisurely victorian tea party.

Steve Jobs is cagey, and I believe he’s a wily guy as well and uses this situation to Apple’s advantage.

In the days and weeks leading up to Apple’s media event where Mr. Showman Jobs gave us an extended look at Apple’s new device, as all manner of juicy tidbits just happened to fall into the hands of those who might know someone in the media. We got screenshots, glass shots, loose lipped CEOs, and the ubiquitous “reliable sources” filling websites and printed pages with all manner of speculation fodder. And the public anticipated each bit of news like a crack-head looking for a fix.

Many people came away from Apple’s media event disappointed. The device Jobs described as being magical seemed anything but. Like the first iPhone, Apple’s new tablet lacks so much that it hardly seems possible that the device can succeed as a glorified digital picture frame much less a category defining product. Every tech-talking head with a forum looked at the iPad and wondering aloud where Apple went wrong. There’s nothing magical it seems except in the deluded minds of Jobs and his minion.


iPad
Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.

And if you believe that I got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Like a masterful stage magician, Steve Jobs has focused our attention on the hand with the shiny-shiny, and we gaze at it intently waiting for it to burst into a puff of smoke from which a golden dove will appear. What we don’t realize is that Jobs has a much bigger trick up his sleeve and if we took a peek at the other hand, that is to say all that wasn’t announced or demonstrated at the media event, then maybe we’d have a clue of what we might see when the smoke finally clears.

One of the features seemingly missing from the iPad is a camera. No camera means no video iChat, no iPad-made movies, no optical input. Current rumors suggest that there are at least provisions, both hardware and software, in the iPad for a camera, even if the actual camera is MIA. Rumors have it that this feature may appear in the released version of the iPad in March, or perhaps only in the 3G version as an incentive to pay the higher price.

I believe that, if there isn’t one in there already, there will be a camera in the iPad when it’s offered to the public, in WiFi and a month later in the 3G version. I believe this because a camera fits so well with what the iPad is about, and that is being personal. A camera lets you express more of yourself to others, even if you only use it occasionally. I also believe that iChat is one of the tricks Jobs still has up his sleeve. iChat will work in both WiFi and 3G modes, though video over 3G may not be available (thanks AT&T). I have no other reason to believe this other that it just makes sense. All of the pieces and parts are there, Apple just has to connect them.

Another feature that wasn’t mentioned is connectivity. Sure the iPad will have WiFi and 3G, but what will it do with it. Just being able to surf the Net is nothing new. What is important to me is being able to get to my stuff; my music, my files, my pictures. The iPad can hold up to 64GB of stuff, but who will want to sync that much data? Even 16GB is too much. A better way is to connect to that data, perhaps in my own personal cloud, and Apple can provide that cloud.

Jobs showed off a reworked iWorks suite. What he didn’t show is how we might be able to use the iWorks apps to access files on Macs and PCs at home. Again, all of the pieces and parts are there, we just need Apple to finish connecting them.

We saw how the user interface has expanded to include hold-pinching, as demonstrated in the iPad’s photo app, and other touch-happy controls. We saw the Calendar and Contacts apps expand to use the extra screen real estate and provide a more personal view of the data contained within. What we haven’t seen is how all of these apps fit and work together.

On the iPhone email automagically finds entrees in your Contacts when you address your note. How might apps on the iPad, with its faster processor and increased memory, handle similar subterranean links?

We didn’t see multitasking because Apple believe’s that giving every app the ability to multitask may lead to instability and make the user’s experience less then optimal, but there are other ways to make most multitasking a non-issue. It seems clear the Jobs believes that focus on the task at hand is the best way to provide a solid user experience. Within the application we may be able to do several things at once.

In iTunes, for instance I may be able to download a song or movie while surfing through the Apps Store like I can on my iMac.

To keep clutter to a minimum applications may use those pop-ups that we saw in the demo. From what we’ve seen so far, the iPad presents a clear and unfettered interface, and I hope some elements of the UI makes it over to the iPhone, which could use a bit of sprucing up.

There’s more, but the thing is this; The iPad is not a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to be. There are two sides to every coin, and while we can see some of what it isn’t, it is for certain that we haven’t seen all that it is and what it can be.

I’ve been thinking about this since it was introduced and it seems intuitively, if not logically apparent that the introduction of the iPad is like those first few drops of rain of a looming storm; if we wait a few minutes there’ll be a lot more where those few splatters came from.

Comments

FlipFriddle

To continue with your thought, I see an iPad version of iLife appearing that stores the data on your Time Capsule or AirDisk, with the iPad being the viewer/player and the editor.

Bob.Witte

And lets not forget that iwork.com already is “there” and allows iwork files to be shared…..

TanZ

It’s essentially a digital canvas. It can be anything you want it to be. It’ll be interesting to see how long before Adobe creates and iPad photoshop app.

Lee Dronick

If the 1st generation iPad ships with a camera its critics’ heads may asplode, if it also has Flash they will certainly asplode!

Dean Lewis

If it has a camera, it’ll be interesting to see how Apple overcomes the shaky-cam effect while people try to hold the iPad, type or surf, and gaze at the camera, too. It’l also be interesting to see people holding up the iPad to snap photos. Sounds unwieldy to me, and I would much rather have a cam on a flexible neck which I can bend around any which way and has a steadying feature. But that may just be me. We’ll know when the first people begin to vomit from motion sickness while trying to chat with iPad users. smile

Vern Seward

Hi Dean,

Actually, I don’t think that will be much of an issue. Remember that the iPad will have sensors like the iPhone, and there’s apps available now that remove the shakies fairly effectively.

I also thought that maybe Apple might intro an add-on cam, like the first iSight cams. That’s a possibility too and I think I may like it better than a built in cam because I may be able to swivel it around.

Hmm, I think I like that option best.

Vern

other side

Nuthin Up My Sleeve But This Little Ol? iPad

Good luck getting an iPad UP a sleeve.

I’m as big of an Apple fanboy as anyone, and I’m already sick up people trying to dream up the iPad’s potential, possibilities, etc.

We’re sounding like the PC salesclowns who tried to explain the advantages of Windows Vista.  Yes, we are reaching that bad.

Lee Dronick

Good luck getting an iPad UP a sleeve.


Kimono sleeves?

?m already sick up people trying to dream up the iPad?s potential, possibilities, etc.

I am not sick of that, I doubt that I ever will be.

hogtown

After reading a great deal of articles on the iPad, it is a pleasure to finally read an article where the author has an imagination. Most of the Wall Street analyst can not see past there nose and picture what Steve Jobs really has up his sleeve. It is no wonder that most of these same analysts completely miss the quarterly earnings with their estimates. Having been a long time Apple owner of the products and the stock, I believe that the iPad as you point out will be revolutionary and completely change the way we address our day to day lives. Camera, Flash, etc, this is the small picture, look at the Big Picture and one can see what is really coming.

Thanks

iJack

What I don’t get Vern, is why Jobs would hold back info on a to-be-included iSight cam.  Or iChat AV.  Or a holding tank for your files.

What is the benefit to holding back on this information?  He wanted the naysayers negging on him?

Lee Dronick

What I don?t get Vern, is why Jobs would hold back info on a to-be-included iSight cam.? Or iChat AV

It might not have been quite ready to go.

Vern Seward

Hi iJack,

Holding back info has many benefits. It can give you time to firm up what the actual feature set will be, for instance.

Let’s say Jobs want the iPad to have a camera, but he knows that he needs the use of that cam to be at least as good as what you might expect on a laptop. That means being able to hold virtual meetings and show Keynote slides or other apps, and that means multitasking. What if Keynote is quite up to snuff when the time came to announce the iPad? If Jobs is the perfectionist everyone says he is then he won’t promise a camera if iChat isn’t ready, and he won’t promise iChat if virtual conferencing isn’t ready.

One of the lessons learned from the iPhone is that people will complain about missing features, but they’ll stop if the missing features are worth the wait when they finally appear. Cut and paste was like that.

Another lesson is that they need to make sure that whatever feature is working on the device is the best of class.

When the iPhone came out no one had Google Maps integrated with other apps on a phone. When competitors did start doing it the iPhone moved up to true GPS, then GPS with compass. Of course now everyone more or less has the feature set the iPhone has, so expect the next update to include stuff others don’t have.

Back to the iPad, Apple seems to follow the rule that if it ain’t perfect then wait until it is.

Given that, a camera may not appear in the first iPads, but I think they will. Just my gut feeling, but then, it could be just gas.

Vern

iJack

It might not have been quite ready to go.

Uh, the freakin’ iPad is not quite ready to go, Harry.

Lee Dronick

Uh, the freakin? iPad is not quite ready to go, Harry.

The camera was not quite ready at the time of the presentation. smile

Tiger

Here’s a thought. Maybe the camera will be in the as yet unannounced….

iPad Pro

Lee Dronick

Here?s a thought. Maybe the camera will be in the as yet unannounced?.

Possible.

Enough for the evening, I am off to bed and enjoy the rare sound of rain in southern California

daemon

Hey Vern, do you ever read previous posts?

I only ask since just about everybody on the editorial staff for the MacObserver was positive that the Apple TV would be a tremendous sucess and in the last three years it’s proven to be a tremendous failure. How can I say that? Steve Jobs himself has panned the device and it still hasn’t broken 1 million sales yet.

Vern Seward

just about everybody on the editorial staff for the MacObserver was positive that the Apple TV would be a tremendous sucess

I don’t see how that statement is true. Many of us here at TMO Towers saw great potential with Apple TV judging from where Apple was heading in the entertainment arena, but I wouldn’t say we thought it would a tremendous success.

Just as now with the iPad, many of us see high potential in the new device, but will others? Who knows?

When the iPhone first came out I was a bit puzzled by it but I could see potential there. Most of my techie friend panned it. Now 9 out 10 of my same friends have iPhones, even the ones I thought would never get one.

The reason seems simple enough, the iPhone can do many things well (if you can ignore AT&T). Remember that the iPhone wasn’t Apple’s first attempt at combining a phone with an iPod.

Those of us who have high hopes for the iPad also know that the star may align against the device. It doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there.

Apple TV had potential, still does in my opinion. Will that potential ever be realized? I dunno, but it doesn’t look good now. It did 3 years ago.

Vern Seward

Sean

It would take me a month to list all the things the iPad can do, considering the 140,000 Apps.

It takes me all of 1 minute to list what it can’t do.

Vern Seward

Well said Sean, yet people seemed focused on the shorter list.

Vern

Sean

As the owner of a Behavioral Consulting Firm and a Behavioral Psychiatrist for the past 24 years, I can tell you why people focus on the shorter list…...... Fear.

When humans are confronted with an uncertainty, typically the loudest person in the room is the most fearful and apprehensive of the group. It’s a basic survival instinct.

By the way, nice article Vern. Great insight on your part.

spudgeek

I agree with Vern here… SJ will not announce features that are not 100% solid even if said features look likely. What you didn’t comment on Vern is Apple’s perfected use of free advertising in hype. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Apple seed much of the hype around their upcoming products.  Knowing there would be much chatter over the iPad’s missing camera, a major component, Apple get us to focus on that to limit us on thinking up other missing features. Then when the product is launched, they announce a camera and software features to go with, i.e. iChat features, etc. and we’re all gushed with excitement and buy buy buy.

I do hope there is a camera, and I doubt very much Apple plan to include a tethered camera option… cables on an iPad? nah… not bloody likely. But would a camera in a fixed position work well enough? We would have to hold the iPad in a face-on direction for video chat which might not be very comfortable on the couch. This must have come up in the R&D phase so how would they address it? Well Apple has face-detection with iPhoto, the iPad has an accelerometer and the Mac cameras have auto-focus. The camera could be mounted internally on a tiny rotating bed managed intelligently/automatically to focus on the user… just a thought!

...and while I’m talking about Apple controlled hype, I imagine Apple was very aware of the effect the naming of the device was going to have: free advertising!

CTOatGFU

Thanks for reminding the world that the iPad doesn’t have to be anything except an iPad. Remember Apple is defining the success it wants the iPad to receive.

timhood

The grammar in this article is horrendous. It makes it difficult for the reader to take the author seriously.

Zarko

I don’t see how multitasking will quite work on the iPad.  All the apps so far follow the “eat up the whole screen” paradigm, and the layouts don’t have the flexibility of the multiple windows in which you can scroll around in that you get on a Mac.  Trying to overlay an iChat app over iWork on an iPad seems like trouble to me.

I think that what steve might have been hiding up his sleeve was a concern that if the iPad did too much that it would cannibalize Mac sales.  By following the iPhone paradigm, the iPad is more of a complementary device to the mac and less of a fully developed product.

I’m excited by the idea of bringing apple’s exceptional multitouch to the mac.  But the iPad is only partially there.

dave68

Info in the cloud through Apple is already achieved via a .Mac or MobileMe account. You can get to the docs via the iphone without issue. I imagine you will be able to save the iWork docs up there is you choose as well.

As for the camera… I don’t want to hold an iPad in my lap and have my audience look up my nose while viewing. I just don’t see the camera as a big deal. Traveling and propping the pad on a desk would be one thing but not hand held. Imagine extending your arms out for a long video chat with someone and keeping it fairly still (motion detection or not). It just isn’t a big deal in my opinion.

I do however think they should put a stop to some of the “multi-tasking” moans by letting safari and an IM app (iChat) run in the background. That should stop everyone’s complaints other than flash which even on my Mac at home I have flash disabled so I don’t care, I’m not a Farmville guy anyway. lol

Just my .02

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