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Touchscreen software on iPad

While most commentators view the iPad as an oversized iPhone, it’s really a question whether people will accept it as a suitable replacement for netbooks (“they’re just cheap laptops,” Steve Jobs said).

I think this is really a software issue. If you compare the specs of any iPod to competing mp3 players in the same price range, the iPod loses on all counts. But once you hold the iPod in your hands and use it, you’ll see why it’s a best-seller: Its simple and intuitive software wins users over. And without good touchscreen software, the iPhone and iPod Touch would never have made it this far.

As Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, the iPad is intended as a device between the smartphone and the laptop. The iPad copies the basic user interface and physical design of the iPhone, but there are significant differences, beyond the 9.7? screen and a fast processor designed by Apple. Apps on the iPad are much more like computer software. Its Photos app, for example, is more like iPhoto on a Mac than the Photos app on iPhone. Most of the core iPhone apps have been rewritten and it even runs the current 140,000 iPhone apps.

While we haven’t seen the promised music and video streaming services, Jobs did show off his e-book reading app with a built-in online bookstore.

Visually, it looks much better than Amazon’s Kindle, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Representatives from the New York Times showed off their digital newspaper, which looked much better than the Kindle version. And iPad’s touchscreen software lets you turn pages with a gesture.

Compared to Kindle, it lacks functionality and has a much smaller catalogue. Also, a backlit LCD screen can be hard on the eyes, compared to the Kindle class. This should come as no surprise, as Jobs is quoted as saying “no one reads anymore.” A reflection of Apple’s concern for readers?

On the plus side:

  • looks awesome
  • feels comfortable and solid to hold
  • it has all that cool software built in
  • unbelievably low price (for an Apple product)
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • will use iPhone OS

On the downside:

  • no multitasking:

While we can expect some limitations here, it really comes down to the software.

The fast processor combined with flash storage launches and closes any application in no time. This reduces the need to run apps in the background. Raise some concerns. For example: Will we be able to chat on Skype while browsing? And will we be able to receive Skype calls on the same device? The iPhone certainly handles

  • no webcam

The iPad SDK 3.2 documentation mentions a camera and there are rumors that the iPod Touch will get the camera in June. Apparently, Apple plans to delay some of the key features, forcing buyers to dig into their pockets again later.

  • No Flash support

Flash will find itself competing heavily with HTML 5 over time. Google’s TestTube and Chrome experiments are proof of this. Anyone familiar with Flash can tell you that he’s a dog who hasn’t kept up with modern computers.

On the other hand, we haven’t gotten there yet and Flash today is too popular to be ignored like that. This will greatly cripple the browsing experience, not to mention all the great Flash games we’ll miss out on.

  • no USB ports, no SD slot
  • US iPad 3G plan provider is AT&T, very unpopular
  • will use iPhone OS

The iPad is much more than a big iPod Touch or iPhone, even if it seems that way. But the question remains, will that be enough for buyers to accept it and make it part of their daily lives?

This device will find some niche uses. If you’re looking for productivity, you’re better off sticking with your touchscreen laptop. But if you’re a casual user looking for active or passive entertainment on the go, the iPad might be just the thing for you. Browsing the web on the couch, watching videos on public transportation, and viewing e-recipes in the kitchen are some of the uses I can think of.

As with any other Apple product, there will certainly be no shortage of people lining up to buy it.

While the iPhone brought us revolutionary touchscreen software, this device still needs something cooler than a pretty cover to justify calling it “magical” or “revolutionary.” But until you get our hands on one and see it in action, it’s too early to judge.

However, one thing we can all be sure of:

This will be the most impressive bathroom web browsing gadget. Ever.

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