What is the iPad for?
So Apple's fabled Tablet, the iPad, has finally been unveiled. While many of the rumours turned out to be spot on, at least as many more missed the mark. Inevitably there will be a section of the community who feel disappointed with the reality. After all no single device could live up to every expectation. I mean it doesn't even have sharks with frickin' lasers!
However, while Apple have made clear what they think this device is initially going to be used for I think ultimately it's going to be the developer community that proves whether this really is a new device category. Can you imagine the iPhone now still being just a phone that does email, music and internet? Certainly they are still very much core to the iPhone experience, but what really sets the iPhone apart are the apps that have taken it in directions that Apple would never even have thought of. Of course Apple know that too and have already released a new SDK for developers.
This is what makes this time especially exciting to me, as I am part of that developer community. I have one iPhone app out there at the moment, vConqr, a turns-based strategy game somewhat based on the board game, Risk. vConqr should work quite nicely on the new device as is, and of course I have plans to tweak it to take advantage of the new form factor and features. But I have other apps in the pipeline, including one idea that I have been brewing for about five years now. In fact, back in 2005 I was shopping around for tablet computers, looking for a platform to do my app idea justice, but I never found anything compelling. I had initially planned to write a desktop version, which I did start work on, and when the iPhone came out I put it on my queue for an iPhone version. But when I started hearing that rumours of an Apple tablet device where gaining momentum I realised this could be the ideal home platform. Today's unveiling has turned that hope into reality and I can confirm that I am now fully committed to bringing this product to market.
I hope you'll forgive me for not describing exactly what my idea entails just yet, although I have mentioned it to some people in the past. I'll go as far as saying that it is a productivity app that is largely a synergy of two existing app concepts - both of which I fully expect to see numerous implementations of becoming available, individually, for the tablet (as, indeed, they already are for the iPhone). My offering would not simply be a tool that provided both functions - or even a way of seamlessly switching between the two. I believe the integration of the two concepts leads to a sum that is greater than its parts, and throwing in some extra factors (think "cloud") leads to something that, for the last five years, I've wished I already had almost daily and I'm very excited about finally following through on.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that my app will be the saviour of the iPad! In context my point is that, as a developer, I have ideas for this device that would not work so well on any other platform yet. I'm sure I'm not the only one. What the iPad ultimately becomes associated with is something that will not fully emerge until time has allowed the developer community to provide that answer.