Emergence of Robots Will, Remarkably, Force a Change in iPad Design

3 minute read
| Editorial

The iPad was developed, in the Macintosh era of maturity, as a simpler alternaive for content consumption. It nicely eliminated the headaches of PC complexity and security concerns. Today, things are radically different, and the need to be able to create content and generate personal revenue is much more pressing than when the iPad was first conceived almost a decade ago.

Apple using internal magnets to attach Apple Pencil 2 to iPad Pro

Is this a formidable income generation tool yet? Image credit: Apple

Because of the iPad’s legacy emphasis on simplicity and security, it still cannot replace the venerable Macintosh. It requires a Mac and Xcode to write iPad (and iPhone) apps.

And yet the future is the iPad. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said, “The iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.”

But there’s a problem looming, and it remains to be solved.

Enter the Robots

There is a generally recognized momentum in the technology industry. When menial labor and even some entry-level jobs can be replaced by robots, they will be. Only those employees with special, advanced skills will remain employable. See: “A top Silicon Valley investor predicts robots will change our economy ‘on the order of the Industrial Revolution’.

Sam Altman, president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, recently warned a crowd at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club that virtually no jobs are safe.

Pepper robot chats with child. After your job? Image credit: Soft Bank Robotics

What that means is that our employment culture will transition, in many instances, from being hired and paid to creating a personal source of income. That will require the highest levels of imagination, creativity, skills, and associated tools. Many people will no longer get up in the morning and drive to work. Instead, they’ll enter their preferred workplace and create products, services, apps, videos, literature, etc. These are things that other people are willing to pay for. Projects like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are glimmers of this kind of future.

The best evaluation of that future scenario I’ve seen is this remarkable series of articles by Heather McGowan. “Jobs are Over: The Future is Income Generation.” Author McGowan writes:

The era of using education to get a job, to build a pension, to then retire is over. … this is the end of employment, as we once knew it. The future is one of life-long learning, serial short-term employment engagements, and the creation of a portfolio of passive and active income generation through monetization of excess capacity and marketable talents.

Next page: Apple tools for the future, educational focus and conclusion.

8 Comments Add a comment

  1. I agree that the iPad is evolving WAY too slowly. The Surface Studio showed that it was possible. I don’t want something that big mind you. I want a 12″ iPad with all the software flexibility and power of a laptop.

    As far as how robots will change the game. I’m so glad I’m approaching retirement. The thought of starting out today and planning on never having a “job” just a series of gigs, with no security, no benefits, no insurance, and forever hunting for the next gig frankly scares then s*** out of me. The idea of always being in the business of marketing myself and selling myself is frightening beyond belief. Understand that I do write, I do draw and paint, I do create. I’ve written four books, two novels, a book of short stories, and another of essays. Sold? None. I did freelance IT work for a while. I don’t think I ever got paid, because when someone was in trouble it seemed wrong to demand money. I just don’t have the talent for selling. I just don’t have a head for business. Some people can’t sing, I can, Some people can’t write, I can. Some people can’t get on stage, I am both a stage and screen actor. Some people CAN sell, I can’t. That’s just not a talent I have. I’m not equipped for a Ferengi world where everyone is constantly looking to profit and everything is a deal.

    That’s an utterly terrifying world to me.

  2. Why not leave the iPad as a consumption device with basic functions for writing and art, etc. and just come out with Mac tablets? I know that would be copying Microsoft, but So What?

  3. BTW, since the new Touch Bar is derived from the Watch, why can’t Mac tablet interfaces be derive from the iPad? Apple has already solved most of the problems for making a Mac tablet. Besides it would give me the Finder back.

  4. JustCause

    I laugh when I see people compare the industrial revolution to the coming AI/robotic revolution, it will change economies dramatically. Some jobs are being replaced already with automation, but next will come taxi, limo, train and truck drivers, the middle class will be gone. Then will be coders, analysts and project managers and managers and so goes upper middle class, finally middle managers and executives will be replaced seeing as most just run the MBA handbook.

    I can’t think of any job/employment that can/will not be replaced by AI/robotics.

  5. I have seen numerous articles discussing MacOS on iPad but none about taking the trouble ( and slight expense) of using one of two excellent iPad Apps that allow full use of a Mac with the iPad Touchscreen. Both Duet Display and AstroPad allow the user to work with MacOS using a touch interface.
    Using them in a regular iPad or iPhone is very cumbersome, at least for adult sized fingers, but they are a wonderful option for drawing and marking in Mac OS apps using the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. The larger iPad Pro is easier to use for drawing apps but the 9.7 is quite adequate.

    But if you try to work with this you will find very quickly why Steve Jobs famously said that pointing and touching on a vertical screen is very tiring for your arms and wrists, so you end up laying the iPad screen flat on your table which is then bad for your neck.

    My answer has been to use these apps only when I occasionally need to draw or when making a presentation, but actually working in complex Mac Software using many windows and apps simultaneously still feels much easier , faster and more comfortable with keyboard / touchpad / or even mouse.

    Maybe Apple can evolve in the future a version that integrates both iOS and MacOS gradually into a merged superOS , but for current or short term future versions I do not feel that a touch interface is a good solution for MacOS yet

  6. I agree with the “Steve no vertical touch” idea. It just doesn’t work.

    Yet there are a number of times that you’d like to use an iPad a bit more like a Mac, such as writing text. I can pair a Magic Keyboard and it works just great but Apple steadfastly refuses to allow pairing of a Magic Mouse to use as a pointer/clicker. This is a most frustrating constraint and makes the whole thing very much harder.

    Does anyone have any insight as to why this would be hard, or problematical?

  7. webjprgm

    @vpndev Using a mouse with an iPad could work like it does in the iOS Simulator. It is not as comfortable of a UI interaction paradigm but it kinda works. Multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom require cooperation with the keyboard and are not the most intuitive to use for the masses. I also think Apple doesn’t want anyone designing iPad software that is designed to be better with a mouse.

  8. geneking7320

    Taking Jhayden’s idea and going further –
    How about naming those Mac tablets after a different variety of apple?
    Then Apple could sell Macs, iPhones,iPads, and maybe Jonathans.

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