January 19, 2014

Promo image of the iPad Air
The Preferred Device

There’s a lot of talk about how the iPad is almost the PC replacement that we all seem to crave, but not quite there yet. Famous tech writer MG Siegler broached the subject recently, stating that although he would like to not buy any more computers, he didn’t think the iPad (his primary tablet of choice as far as I can tell) was ready yet. In fact, he thinks the iPad’s years away from replacing the computer for all tasks, obviously painting i very broad strokes.

Promo image of the iPad Air
Promo image of the iPad Air

In some cases he’s right. I don’t see myself developing high end websites on my iPad anytime soon, although it is theoretically possible already. Siegler’s example, what a nuisance it is to publish (primarily) text content online using the iPad, compared to using the web browser, is a moot one. The comparison with the web browser workflow is also moot, because the tablet offers a different view altogether.

Take this piece you’re reading right now. There’s no way I’d sit on my couch, listening to Along Came A Spider by Alice Cooper on vinyl, with my retina MacBook in my lap. It’s not the size of the computer that’s the problem, but the fact that it’s a computer, a bulky piece of hardware. I was already reading on my iPad when I felt I should jot down a few notes on this very topic, and now I’m in fact writing the first draft.

Publishing the piece might mean switching apps, possibly I even have to open the publishing platform’s admin interface in a web browser, much as I would on a computer. That’s the worst case scenario, because although the world’s largest CMS – WordPress – is now fully responsible on the backend, it’s still an unintuitive way to interact compared to what we’re used to on our tablets.

Thats the killer: What we’re used to. Most apps offer a better experience than the web browser. sooner or later an app for publishing to WordPress, or whatever you prefer and/or use, will make it work for you in a way that’s equivalent or, more likely, superior to the traditional PC-focused browser experience.

Using a tablet as a primary device is possible today. Publishing using said device is equally possible, even preferable in some cases, as this very piece wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the fact that I had a tablet in my hands when the idea occured to me. Your workflow may differ when using a tablet, but most workflows today are flawed, old remains of a time when the PC was king. That’s not the case anymore, and although some things may feel more suited to the traditional computer, it might be because the things themselves haven’t been questioned thoroughly.

Food for thought, before you buy in to MG Siegler’s view that the iPad, while a preferred device, is years away from actually working as one.

Related: Mark Crump declares 2014 the year of the iPad.

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