Apple iPad, next generation computing?

Two days ago, Steve Jobs, CEO at Apple has unveiled the company’s latest gadget, called iPad. At first glance it looks like a very shiny, keyboardless computer, easy to use and needless to say, ultimately desirable. Measuring at 9.7 inches, the screen uses LED technology and is sensitive to multitouch allowing the user to pinch and stretch to zoom in and out when viewing photographs. The iPad also features an accelerometer meaning that is sensitive to tilting – the screen rotates automatically whenever it is turned around. In Apple’s own words “there is no right way to hold it”.

Next generation computing?

Next generation computing?

It is normal that the first question one would ask when inquiring about such a hi-tech device (especially when its made by Apple), is the price. Weighing in at “starting at US$499″ it may not be very expensive, but one would have to wait for its European price as a straight dollar to Euro conversion never applies to Apple pricing.

Reading the newspaper without getting ink smudge on your fingers...

Reading the newspaper without getting ink smudge on your fingers...

On paper, the iPad is a fantastic piece of hardware which can very easily adapt for educational use. One can easily imagine how beneficial the iPad can be in a classroom and it also contributes towards a paperless environment.

The following are the specifications, taken directly from Apple’s website here.

- Multitouch screen (9.7″) – 1024 x 768 screen resolution
- Fingerprint resistant
- Wifi + Bluetooth + 3G (Optional)
- Assisted GPS
- 16GB / 32GB / 64GB internal flashdrive (depends on model)
- Accelerometer
- Headphone jack
- Speakers
- Microphone

The operating system includes the following software:

- Safari web browser
- Mail software
- Photo software
- Video and YouTube
- iPod application (software which lets you listen to music)
- iTunes (online store from which to buy music and TV shows)
- App store
- iBooks (software which lets you buy books in digital format online)
- Maps and more

The one thing that is not immediately obvious is that the Apple iPad has a very ‘closed’ operating system. For example, you cannot install OSX (Apple Mac’s Operating System) software such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office on it. The iPad is essentially a huge iPhone sans the phone calling bit, it runs iPhone/iPod applications and of course iPad only applications. This means that the iPad is not intended for people who want to be productive but just as an ‘entertainment device’ which lets you read a book, watch a movie, browse the internet, chat on Facebook and so on.

Other things one may want to be aware (and these, for some reason are not listed on Apple’s site) of are:

- No Flash support
- Only Apple approved software can be installed via the App software
- No multitasking – for example: You are listening to music on the iPod software, and would like to write an email – you will have to stop and exit iPod, launch the email program, send your mail, exit the email program and launch iPod again.
- No webcam

Conclusion

One cannot deny that the iPad is great and it will sell loads, especially with all the hype Apple have built around it. The problem with it is the audience it targets, as a result narrowing its use in the classroom or in a productive environment. Fortunately the launch of the iPad means that this kind of computer form will become very popular and other big companies such as HP, Dell, Sony, Samsung etc., will create slate-form devices with a much wider purpose.


Conrad Fenech

ICT Support Teacher

Coming soon, the HP Slate - runs Windows 7

Coming soon, the HP Slate - runs Windows 7

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