In the iPad's Defense
Yesterday, I scratched and scribbled through a quick blog entry on computer science and ran across something that was perplexing. I have to come back to it in light of blog entries like this one, which assert:
I am sick of people saying that the iPad is for consuming and not creating online digital content. There is no doubt that the iPad is a great device to browse the web, read an eBook and check email (consuming) but it can do so much more than that. You will see from my list below that the iPad is far superior to the laptop in a lot of different areas of digital content creation (Source: School Technology)As you might imagine, I have a slightly different perspective. This argument reminds me of the one made that a hammer can be more than a blunt object used for pounding nails. As to my biases about the iPad--and they are evolving--I'll be blunt and state them up front:
- The iPad is the best, locked-down proprietary tablet on the market.
- The iPad allows one to do only what Apple allows; to me, this isn't the standard any piece of equipment developer should aspire to. What should that standard be? Allow end users to do whatever they can imagine, and if the developer's imagination is limited, empower end-users to create their own scaffolds for achieving their imagined goals.
- Given the choice between an iPad and a $200 netbook like an Asus Aspire One running Linux, I'll take the netbook any day of the week.
- You pay $500 for the iPad, then, if you want to use it for text processing, buy an additional $50-$100 keyboard to enhance it.
- You get nickle-and-dimed to death for the apps you need to do real work (e.g. Keynote, iMovie).
- The ultimate purpose of the iPad is to keep you spending money and siphon funding from your wallet, or if a school district, school coffers. Of course, this is what Apple designed the iPad for.
Of course, these are biases. They are certainly limited by lack of imagination, vision, and experience. Have you had a different experience?
While the iPad allows one to do quite a bit (just watch Kevin Honeycutt present, taking advantage of the music apps on iOS), but bias #2 and #5 above pretty much ruins the iPad as a device for serious computing. Of course, serious computing may only be incidental to this device.
One of the commenters (Bob) at Brad's blog points out the following:
In my eyes there’s no denying that the iPad is a superior device for content consumption. Which is why people probably label it as such all the time. That said, I’m sure it can create content just as well in some areas. The painting is a prime example (I have had some great results with SketchPad and a stylus – which is in my eyes still superior to a finger).
However when it comes to photo editing, movie editing, typing and more, I cannot go outside of my desktop. Not even a laptop will do as it feels too cramped for me. I can type quite fast on an ipad no problem, but a keyboard and a mouse will blow the ipad out of the water for me any day for almost all applications.
The difference is probably not even in the controls so much as it is in the user interface. The ipad, due to its touch control and relatively small screen, cannot afford a great many panels and windows. It must turn to other types of interface in order to save screen surface. Swiping, pinching, etc. In some applications this works great, in others it doesn’t.
Personally I find I’m missing my keyboard + mouse + extensive windows interface in most cases.
But the most offensive aspect of the iPad includes situations like this perspective...as well as reactions to it. and perfectly illustrate bias #2 in regards to the Scratch young users:
This blog entry aside, have no fear. I am not a network nazi pushing that everyone use a specific device because of my biases. And, I doubt that schools will give preference to programming--which only a fraction of kids do--over the other benefits an iPad provides. I just wish folks would stop pushing iPad as THE teacher and student computing device, just ask, if you have only a precious amount of funding to spend, is this the best device to achieve Texas Technology Applications:TEKS in schools, the SBEC Technology Standards for School Administrators, and the NETS-T/S/A?
“I think the iPad generation is going to miss out on software programming,” said Oliver Cameron, developer of the Friends iPhone app. “Kids don’t need Macs anymore.”
It doesn’t help that Apple enforces strict rules around how iOS apps must be programmed, which occasionally results in some collateral damage.
Take for example Apple’s rejection of Scratch early last year. Scratch for iPhone was an app for kids to view programs coded with MIT’s Scratch programming platform.
Apple rejected the app, citing a rule that apps may not contain code interpreters other than Apple’s. This rule appears to be specifically designed to prevent meta platforms such as Adobe Flash from appearing on the iPad, thereby allowing Apple to keep its iOS platform to itself.
The young community of Scratch programmers, however, doesn’t pose a threat to Apple’s business, and the rejection of the Scratch app shows how Apple’s developer rules can harm the art of programming.
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure