Apple’s iPad, especially iWork for iPad, reveals the future of personal computing

“During [last week’s] iPad event, which largely played out just as the rumors foretold, Apple did do something unexpected: They unveiled a version of the word processing, spreadsheet and presentation suite iWork redesigned for the iPad’s 9.7-inch touchscreen. It’s easy to write off iWork’s inclusion as a minor perk only for business types only, but don’t. The suite’s fully-redesigned touch interfaces actually reveal more about Apple’s vision of the future of computing than any other element of their new tablet,” John Mahoney reports for Popular Science.

“I used each iWork app [during Apple’s hands-on session for the media after Steve Jobs’ presentation], and while I couldn’t spend enough time with them to come to a definitive conclusion, they definitely surprised me… each appeared more than capable of offering a similar, if not much improved experience, over their desktop counterparts,” Mahoney reports. “And for that, all credit is due to multitouch.”

“The apps, especially Keynote and Pages, function almost as light versions of far more advanced software like Adobe’s InDesign,” Mahoney reports. “PopSci’s art director probably won’t be ditching InDesign for an iPad any time soon, but having a large tablet of the future flat on a desktop could merge the benefits of working digitally with an interface that feels more like working with a pencil and paper.”

“This is significant. It’s the underlying concept behind all touchscreen interfaces–removing the mouse and pointer’s layer of abstraction to get us back to working with our hands. Most previous attempts at a more natural and expansive touch interface have been hampered by too small a screen or inelegant design,” Mahoney reports. “The iPad has neither.”

Mahoney reports, “And in choosing productivity apps as the first test case for these new interfaces, Apple is providing a familiar stepping stone into the world of interacting with nothing-but-touch in software we’ve been using for decades.”

Full article here.

29 Comments

  1. @ Splat –

    Exactly! You and millions of others will be figuring this out over the next couple of years. For many many it will make sense to dump their $martphone and laptop, and pick up an iPad and a basic cellphone (with a decent camera?). Some will also want a big-screen desktop at home, and a MobileMe account. This is the direction that I’m considering, and I’ve been living on a series of Mac laptops for almost 20 years.

  2. I am a road warrior catching a plane almost every other week to meet clients in boardroom reviews or workshops to develop strategy or systems or scorecards or risk reviews.

    What’s wrong with my 15″ MacBook Pro (a pre-unibody model) is that two-thirds of the time, it is lugged around in case I need to refer to something on it for a critical item of information and the remaining one-third of the time because I truly work the MBP as a key tool for my workshops slides. Back in my office I use an iMac.

    The iPad would really work for me in the two-thirds of the time when I am not running a workshop. An iPad with iWork would enable me to interact with six to eight senior executives in review meetings where I can call up any client related workpaper or presentation and display it on screen.

    Or when I meet a prospect and I can pitch with a slide pack as I have in the past using a Palm Tungsten containing slides stored as jpegs. I had to replace the Tungsten when it died with my MacBook Pro and Keynote which I feel is a major overkill as it becomes too big a distraction in itself in the sales meeting. Fact is that prospects like spontaneity which the act of pulling out a sleeping MBP doesn’t permit. And while the seamless use of technology in the hands of an expert adds credibility, it is the sweetest icing on the cake particularly when the prospect commissions the work.

    In other words, “Real personal computing” will happen when I can whip out an iPad and within three strokes (key, button or finger gesture) be able to display the business related item on screen for six or seven people in a review meeting. Or be able to access information relevant to a discussion (Spotlight on an iPad?).

    And on top of all that, with custom software solutions (iWork, FileMaker and Bento, Omni products etc on an iPad) plus the bog standard stuff like iCal, Mail and Safari make the iPad one powerful business and personal tool.

    I am looking forward to my new Capitalist Tool.

  3. @spyinthesky

    My fear is we get dumbed down computing which is only used to consume rather than produce. In it’s current incarnation, the iPod is pure consumption of content with very limited ability to produce.

    My hope is that Apple evolves this product into a true powerhouse and not the dumbed down appliance it is. I am not against moving in a new direction, in fact I am excited about it. But I don’t want to give up my ability to control my computer for that future, just so big media can send me more crap in a more expensive device. I would be very disappointed if that’s where things are heading with this device.

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