October 18, 2011
In case you don't know, I like gadgets. The first gadgets I remember really loving were a very old Atari game system and later the Nintendo Entertainment System. I can vividly remember thinking how awesome it was to get Baseball for the NES. That's the game's name: Baseball. I bought the game on the Wii's Virtual Console for mere nostalgia and to remember how awesome I thought something so simple was circa 1990.
Fast-forward to now. Even as an owner of my second iPhone, I was skeptical of the iPad at its unveiling in early 2010. As some critics pointed out, it literally was a big iPod Touch. As a piece of hardware and software, that's exactly what it was.
But just as happened with the iPhone, the apps changed everything.
I held off on buying an iPad just like I did an iPhone. I'm still glad I did, because in that year between the first iPad's release and the iPad 2's release, developers went to town making this gadget one fun and awesome -- you can call it magical if you want -- device.
The first 10 or 20 apps I downloaded were apps devoted to reading. I found every free news app in the country and explored them all. AP, the Washington Post and USA Today all have apps that give hope to each of us in the newspaper biz. The Washington Post and USA Today both have amazing apps that are really good translations of the traditional newspaper into a digital format. The New York Times has a nice app as well, but the ridiculously priced paywall. It's $20/month to read anything past the front page. If I just want to check out the opinion pieces by Paul Krugman and David Brooks, that's one crazy price to pay. I therefore haven't paid it.
Magazines have been revolutionized. I hated subscribing to them because they just started to stack up in piles, cluttering my home. Sure, you can donate them to schools or libraries, but that means I was really just renting them. I now have four subscriptions, including the amazing Astronomy magazine. That is total astronomy nerdvana, and I can carry it anywhere on a 1.5-ounce device.
I could go on for days about the awesome things just I have found on my iPad. Netflix, Kindle Cloud Reader, Angry Birds -- original, holiday and Rio! -- the Target app, Apple's Pages and Numbers apps, Facebook, Twitter. It's just crazy good.
What I think is better for society is the ways I hear about iPads being used to just make people's lives better. Doctors are using them to make X-rays and records more portable. Pilots are using them to replace flight manuals. School systems are studying using them to replace textbooks. I can't imagine how great it would be to carry around an iPad instead of a 300-pound calculus book, a 480-pound world history book and a 1,500-pound notebook full of hand-written notes. I might be exaggerating those numbers, but those college textbooks were not made to defy gravity.
I'm sure many of you have an iPad or maybe one of the competing tablets. How have you used them to change your daily lives? Did you splurge for 3G connectivity, or did you stick with WiFi like me? Have you started buying more ebooks than regular books? Talk about it in the comments below.