On the 27th January 2010, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world. They’ve been a huge success and to date, Apple has sold over 360 million of them!
The iPad announcement was one of the most memorable of Apple’s events. Rumours about a tablet computer had been coming for years, and nobody knew quite what to expect. Microsoft had previously tried (and failed) to bring tablet computing to the masses, but they just couldn’t figure out a suitable form factor or operating system. They’d tried to “shoehorn” windows into working with touch instead of a mouse, but the interface was clunky and unintuitive.
The iPad development was actually started before the iPhone, even though the phone was released first. During the development, the team decided that the phone was a more important platform and they had to get to market with that product first. So, the technology they’d developed so far was miniaturised and became the iPhone first.
The concept of an iPad was a long-term goal of Jobs. Back in 1983, Jobs said in a speech
“What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.”
When Jobs took to the stage, it was to rapturous applause, not just because of the impending product announcement, but also because it was the first event he’d done in a while. He was recovering from cancer and although still quite ill, he was determined to be at the event. He started the event by saying “We’ve been working on this product for a while now and I just didn’t want to miss today”.
To demonstrate just how different the iPad was to use, the stage was set with a comfy recliner and a small side table. The iPad was so thin that nobody even noticed it sitting there during the introduction! To everyone’s surprise, Jobs sat in the recliner and picked up the iPad from the side table and began swiping away. It instantly resonated with everyone that this was a liberating new concept for computing. You could easily hold the device in one hand while sitting anywhere – unlike a laptop where it would be balanced precariously while you tried to use it.
Today there are a variety of iPads. There’s the iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro – all of which are targeted at different users and needs. There’s now a stylus – the Apple Pencil (something Jobs was dead against) which is being used by artists to create digital artwork.
The processors in the latest iPads rival those in high powered laptops, however they’re still held back somewhat by the software interface. Designed to be easy to use and simple to learn, the iPad was developed around the idea of single app tasking. You switch between apps – each of which fills the screen when you use it. Compare this to a laptop where you can have multiple overlapping applications. Apple have tried to rectify this with split-screen multitasking, where you can have two apps side by side, but the gestures and controls to make this happen, just aren’t intuitive enough for most people. This is bound to be a focus for Apple over the next few years as they push the iPad towards becoming a true laptop replacement.
However, for most people, the single app approach makes sense. A lot of my customers use the iPad for simple tasks such as reading Facebook, sending emails or using video messaging with family and friends. This is one of the reasons why I promote the iPad to customers who’re looking to upgrade old laptops. The interface is also simple to use, and the device itself is inherently secure – there are no viruses on the iPad.
Unfortunately, Steve Jobs only lived another year after the announcement, however he got to see his dream product become a reality and change the face of computing. It’ll be interesting to see where the iPad goes from here, but I think it has a great future!