I'm trying to cook dinner here, and I have IM's popping up from online pals asking me about the Apple iPad, the Apple tablet PC. This isn't just coders, mind you, it's lots of other, like indie comic makers who have been sold the line that the iPad is the key to surviving as a comic creator since it's nearly impossible to get into the shops between Diamond and store that are just too fucking lazy to deal with more than one source for comics (Jaysus, how did you survive the black and white boom?!?). Since I have work to do tonight, I'm just going to post my thoughts here, and let the feeds and linkers handle the rest.
My feelings on the iPad?
Sucks. Moving on....
...what do you mean you want to hear more? All right, fine. Here's my feelings in a nutshell.
First of all, this thing will sell gangbusters just because it's Apple. M$ struggles to innovate and is always either playing catch up or ripping people off just to stay current. Meanwhile, Apple could throw up last night's dinner, mark it up 300%, and they'll still have lines snaking around the mall just to buy it (no joke -- when the last version of the iPhone went on sale, the line stretched out of the mall store and completely looped around the commons area of the mall). So trust me, my opinion isn't going to make a lick of difference. Apple does their research and knows what people will buy, and people are already giddy for it. So these are just my opinions in a nutshell.
The most important thing I notice is that it has a custom CPU powering it. Not only does this sew up the software license under Bilski, but that means that, unlike all the other Macs out there with Intels or PowerPC's, you won't be putting any OS other than Apple's on this thing. That's a disappointment.
Apple is clearly after that kind of middle ground. People who want something like a netbook from Apple already have the Air. Palms and PocketPC's are running on fumes now that cell phones are doing pretty much all that and more. I have a Palm, but the screen is small and a pain in the ass, plus they are a nightmare to code for. This seems more like a glorified eBook reader, bigger screen so that things aren't presented in teeny-weenie-eye-strain-o-vision, but still small enough to fit in a purse or oversized pocket.
Ten hours of battery life. Not bad, and actually reinforces why a custom chip instead of an Intel (Intels are notoriously inefficient. Netbooks with Intel Atom CPU's max out at about 7.5 hours for a charge. The same battery powering an ARM CPU has logged 24 hours on a single charge. If it weren't for market share, everyone would have moved on from Intel's buggy CPU's long ago). I'm curious how, though. My dad's MacBook gets almost six hours on a single charge (PowerPC chipset. My longest Intel-based portable with an equivalent battery is a little under two hours). We are ostensibly talking about a smaller battery here, though, so I am curious about the power load. I'm suspecting a flash hard drive, since that's the first and easiest place to conserve power.
Savior of the comic industry? Bullshit. Not only is downloadable comics a pipe dream, but the main comic book readers like Longbox are Flash-based. Flash will ONLY run on an Intel CPU due to specific instruction sets tied to the chip. Open sourcers have things like GNash, which is always a step behind but better than nothing, or Adobe's own official Flash build for Linux (which, I might add, still runs better than the one for the Mac). The custom CPU means either their own version of Flash, forking GNash, or no Flash. So Longbox, Wowio, and them are out of luck.
Half an inch thick, 1.5 pounds, 9.7 inch screen. So the screen is about half an inch smaller than the one on Kylie, my IBM S10 netbook. Kylie does not have a touchscreen, but there are Fujitsu notebooks that are a hair bigger than Kylie, have a built in optical drive, and a touch screen you can swing around and turn the thing into a tablet PC. And, as it is Intel-based, you can run a full blown OS of your choice, Windoze or Linux, and as long as you aren't going nuts with the graphics, it'll do everything you need it to (this is why I opted for an Intel netbook to begin with instead of a specialized ARM). Of course, spinning parts in the drives means a lesser battery life, but if you are willing to trade it off, there's an option.
Apple is counting on devs seeing the money that can be made here. The iPhone was once a haven for garage programmers until major houses like EA saw the audience and started devving for it themselves, crowding the indies out. Get a big user base and software companies will make the stuff that people using the device can't live without. So I have no doubt it'll have lots of great apps.
All in all, I see why people are excited, and if they want to buy the tech, I wish them well. After all, it's one less WinMobile machine out there. I just don't see it as the big deal everyone else is. I can get a machine that does everything I could want to do with an iPad for less than half that and be running a full blown Linux install where I know any printer or device that works with my tower will work with it. I'm glad people are excited, I hope it sells. But I'll stick to my current tech, thank you.