iPad: Avenue to the Attention Age?
On the topic of multi-touch and touch-screens, another reason I believe the iPad can succeed is because as a touch-sensitive device, it removes any barrier between the user and the content. You touch what you want. Short of telepathy, this is as simple and basic as it gets for navigation. The multi-touch inputs do add a layer of complexity, but with it comes even more accurate and powerful control over the user's interface.
Navigation is not the only thing made simple by Apple. The iPad does not run the same version of Apple's operating system OS X that its desktop and laptop computers use. Instead, it runs a version of the iPhone system. This is both a good and bad thing for various consumers. First, the good.
The iPhone operating system is incredibly simple and user-friendly. Other than Apple's built-in application multi-tasking, you're limited to running a single application at a time. When I used an iPhone, I did not mind this at all. What it saves you is the hassle of application management - having to remember to quit each application, or let it run and eat battery life needlessly. And again, simplicity reigns supreme. There is a single button on the face of the iPad, as is the case on both the iPhone and iPod Touch, and this serves as a home button. The main menu contains icons for each of your applications, and usually has multiple pages to accommodate all of them. Moving between these pages is as easy as taking a finger, and brushing it from one side to the other in the direction of the page flip you desire. Opening an application means touching a finger to it.
Running the iPhone system also means software is supplied through Apple's iTunes App Store. To start, there are thousands of applications available now in the App Store that were designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple themselves claim nearly 140,000 applications already in their store. That is a very large base software pool to build off of, and other than running Adobe's Flash animation platform, which it will not run, there is virtually an app for everything the everyday consumer needs already. However, these are apps built for a 3.5" screen and a less powerful processor, so this seems it would only be the beginning. Developers will be able to take advantage of the iPad’s differences from its smaller cousins, and develop software specifically for the iPad. In either case, you can either download applications directly, or download it to your computer through iTunes and install it when docking with it. I imagine the iPad will have most of its software downloaded directly since having access to wi-fi or 3G cellular networks allows for acceptably fast downloads.
On the downside, the iPhone operating system that runs in the iPad cannot entirely replace the functionality of other laptops or netbooks. Some book field-specific applications are Windows only, although more and more, the emphasis is being placed on Internet-based software. One of these Internet software in particular, Adobe's Flash, is not supported by Apple, namely on the basis that if it were included, the iPad's battery life would be reduced from approximately ten hours to 1.5. However, the general shift to web-based software is a positive that Apple's mobile products should have no problem with.