Using the iPad for a Day, or Multitasking as a Distraction

My MacBook Pro has had a very rough life. It started out as a test unit and was subjected to untold miseries that were not described to me, but were evident in the contorted unibody and scuffed display housing. A few days ago the notebook broke down, with the trackpad failing to respond to clicks.

It led to an interesting opportunity though; I had a shiny new iPad in my office. I quickly decided to put the iPad through the ringer and see what life would like using only an iPad for the day as my MacBook Pro went in for repairs.

At first I took advantage of it’s mobility and battery by working in various places on campus, but soon became frustrated with typing emails of much substance on it’s keyboard. It’s fantastic for the first few sentences, you feel astonished with the speed with which you can type, but it soon becomes a bit lack luster, and you realize that typing a “%” symbol requires losing your train of thought and hunting through a tertiary, symbols keyboard to find the correct ‘key’.

I returned to my cubicle a bit disappointed, but paired my bluetooth keyboard and started blasting away with much greater speed and key-familiarity.

The turning point was in my realization that I was being very productive (nearly reaching inbox zero). I think this has nothing to do with the keyboard and really nothing to do with what the iPad can do, but rather with what it cannot do.

I was simply doing email. There were no distractions from IM or calendar invitations or any of the other applications that are constantly running on my MacBook Pro. The only multitasking afforded to me was the music playing in the background. It was nice.

Some of you will realize that this is possible with a regular computer. ‘Just close the other applications’. However, for whatever reason, I don’t ‘just close them’ and neither does anyone I know.

I may recant this statement come this fall, but when iPhone OS 4 comes out, I’m not really looking forward to the multitasking. The application isolation has some interesting perks and I know I’m not the only one who notices this.

Jeff Rock on the iPad Case

I’m not even sure why I bought it in the first place. I hate cases. What I want isn’t a case so much as a slip. Just something that keeps the iPad covered and clean while it’s traveling. This isn’t about protection so much as transportation and subtlety. It’s the same reason I don’t strap a bra on my car. Sure, the hood will get nicked but I’ll take the dings over making a BMW look like it’s on its way to an S&M convention.

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Andy Ihnatko on Tablets before the iPad

The hardware we’ve seen in years past… are laptop computers with the keyboard section broken off. They’re not fundamentally touch-based computers, they’re the products of old thinking. When Apple looks at a fingertip, they see a warm, living thing that can feel. They don’t see a poor substitute for a mouse.

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