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What I Was Hoping for With the iPad

Yesterday's iPad product announcement left me less than whelmed.

I do not see this device as being revolutionary. Apple approached this product very conservatively, deliberately omitting must-have features and new ways of thinking. Instead, it's a bigger iPod Touch, it expands the market for the App Store.

What did I hope for with the iPad?

  • A higher-resolution screen. 9.7" diagonal form factor is fine, but 1024-by-768 is unacceptable in the year 2010. That is XGA resolution, for crying out loud. In 2010? I wanted 1920x1080 resolution: full HD. And I expected the screen to extend all the way to the edge of the device. Instead the device has a huge "bezel" frame around the display that makes it look old-fashioned (remember the first-generation CinemaDisplays?).
  • Two cameras, one on the front, for video chats, and one on the back to take pictures. The lack of cameras is a real problem.
  • A built-in telephone that takes the capabilities of the iPhone even further.
  • I wanted a complete, utter replacement for laptops. I wanted a device that took the best of the MacBook Pro and the iPhone 3GS, and merged them in a new product. If it had cost $999 (even $1299) and it had the best of the MacBookPro and the iPhone 3GS, I would be buying one in a jiffy.
  • I wanted full MacOS X, not iPhone OS. I want a Terminal.app. I want to install my own software. I want my own computer, not subscribe to Apple's idea of a computer (full of DRM, walled gardens, etc).
  • I want a computer that offers a revolutionary new way to think about personal computing. I want a computer that puts "personal" first -- that isn't just a collection of applications, but is all about the people I know and follow and stay in touch with. It is time for what I call the PeoplePad (or PeepPad for short):
  • The PeepPad would be a new type of default interface for a personal computing device. Rather than a boring gallery of application icons -- it's a focus on your peeps. Friends, family members, colleagues, co-workers, favorite performers, favorite authors, artists, politicians, reporters, bloggers, tech gurus, thought leaders, but also all of the news sources, companies, favorite websites, etc. that you follow. It's your social computer. A real revolution from Apple would be that it embraces social computing and stops trying to be simply a media player. Apple had the perfect opportunity to take the world to the next level -- to get the social graph where it belongs, on your own personal computer . The PeepPad would eliminate the need for visiting social network websites -- it would be the next-generation of social networking, letting you quickly keep an eye on everything you're interested in, organized and presented in multiple contexts depending on your preference at the moment. It would be your interface for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. In time, those networks would go away (face it, they are all doomed in the long run -- I give 'em 3-4 more years in their current form, max) or they morph to be cloud storage for your social graph but you interact with, update, and monitor your social graph through a device/app like PeepPad.
  • When you fire it up, or whenever you press the HOME button, you don't get a page of APPLICATIONS -- so very 2007 --- you would see an interface like the one above, with YOUR PEEPS! Something that monitors ALL of your social networks, RSS feeds, email, instant messaging, SMS texting, people you follow on Twitter, etc. And it shows you what is hot right now -- who's talking, who's trying to reach you by phone, who's left a voicemail for you, who among people you follow has posted something that lots of people are sharing/linking to, who has posted something new since the last time you looked. You could organize the icons any way you want, any size you want, filter any way you want.
  • A revolutionary personal computing device announced in January 2010 should have smart agent tools working on your behalf to monitor the important stuff -- your computer would know you and know what you consider important, what is not so important. The iPad is a dumb computer, it is the same as a Mac SE from twenty five years ago, just with a spiffier interface and a faster processor. But it is still dumb, and doesn't know squat about you, your social network, what information you need, what kinds of things you want to buy, what you would like to give away or sell. In 2010! Where is this truly personal computer?
  • I don't want to have to read books like I read physical books. Once again Apple has fallen into the trap of providing a photorealistic simulation of some real object, in this case a "page-turner" in iBooks, but is that the only way to read a book? In 2010? It is so old fashioned to simply copy the physical characteristics of books and replicate them online. What are the new ways to view books? The iPad doesn't offer any, it seems. Books are information. I want tools that help me find good information. There may be a new book that has one page out of 400 that has information highly relevant to me. I don't want to have to buy the whole book. I don't want to have to fire up a silly "book simulator" app just to read that one page. I want the information and I want it now, and in whatever format I prefer.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this list, but that's it for now.

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