Instead of constant media consumption devices, we need more ways to interact with the world. I see the benefits of social media, twitter, and portable computing, but we're not quite there yet. Maybe this new iPad will get us closer, because we aren't there yet. This is not coming from some jealous guy wishing he had an iPad, I've had both the first and second iterations of this device and enjoyed them to a degree, but I'm realizing the limitations more and more. It also scares me to see so many computer developers failing to innovate and just emulating the iPad, thinking the tablet is the personal computer replacement when it's really just not there yet.
The iPad's popularity makes sense in many respects. It finally offers a way to do computer-like things in a way that feels like you're not using a computer. It's kind of fun to peck away at a screen rather than have to open up a big laptop, but in reality, the whole thing is so limited - even still. Yes, many argue you can keyboard attachments and countless other accessories, but by then why didn't you just get a laptop - notably an ultrabook, or just some slim laptop? The iPad 3 is exciting people because of a higher pixel density screen and a faster processor. Frankly, its graphics are already fantastic, the screen looks great. This is not what iPad needs. It needs options to actually be more useful.
I worry that we are becoming a society of numb, Angry Bird flinging consumers more than dynamic contributors to the internet. Same goes for Twitter. While it's ability to topple regimes came as an unexpected and incredible surprise, the current world of social media still lacks so much. Who would think a goofy name like Twitter could be the driving force behind such powerful political revolutions?
We need to enter an era where instead of just taking in mass information, we learn to dissect and get the info we need. We need true simplicity and the devices need to reflect that. If the tablet is going to revolutionize computing it will need to do the following:
a) Revise the software to be more robust. This idea of needing little apps for what should just be web sites is getting old. Millions of apps that you pay for that should technically just be web sites. Well played by the media companies. Get someone to pay money to get to use your web site. Ridiculous.
b) Better data input. Maybe the stylus will make its great comeback. I hope tablets in the near future have integrated detachable keyboards that are really well integrated. Right now, most of them are pretty clumsy. The biggest innovation the iPad 2 came out with was a magnetic cover. Not exactly the mind-boggling step forward we needed for these devices to truly offer new opportunities in productivity. Looks prettier, but... So what? That thing fails to clean your screen by the way. Ooh microfiber!
c) True integration with various devices. While I know people want to move beyond USB ports and move into full-on cloud computing, these devices can't compete as real business machines unless they gradually move out with the old and in with the new. iPads and their complete lack of ability to integrate with USB devices is incredibly limiting. You film a spectacular movie on your HD camera, not some goofy camera on the back of the iPad and you have no way to transfer it easily. In an ideal world your camera can get online and transfer the data, but until we get there these devices should increase their popularity and usefulness by not being afraid to integrate backward compatibility. That was the case as we weened off the floppies, and it is the case for computers as we ween off CDs. Same with WiFi. Good laptops tend to still let you connect directly, even though technically, WiFi is better. But you'd surprised how you sometimes find yourself in need of old tech. Traveling around Tokyo, Japan, last year, I was shocked to see how little WiFi was available. The hotels kept having old-school plug-in connections. This could be different, a year in the tech world is enormous though.
d) Better shelf life. You buy a device only to find it obsolete months later. For the sake of loyal customers shelling out hundreds of dollars, businesses like Apple should make sure not to abandon previous customers in its drive to sell the next product line.
All in all, when I look at these things, I love the entertainment component, I see why tablets are fun time-wasters and a bit more engaging than just staring at a little smartphone screen, but when it comes to making the leap from toy to revolutionary device we're not there yet.
Surely, the devices will better, but it might get worse before it gets better. Too many of us are drooling over, idolizing the beauty of iPads and convincing ourselves these things are making our lives better when in reality, they're doing nothing but making us into zombies. I believe citizens of the world deserve better tech that gives them more credit. Given what we have look at the incredible uses people have found through mobile computing, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Wikipedia, YouTube. It's just time the tech companies catch up to the demands of the people instead of trying to turn us into nothing but movie-buying blobs. iTunes is still trying to get you to pay $1 or more per song in a world where you can get Spotify - unlimited music and just flat monthly rate. These big companies are playing us for fools.