The Real Disappointment

It’s no secret that Apple’s newly released iPad is a big disappointment for many. For me the disappointment isn’t in the device itself, but rather the crippling control that Apple has over it.

What I don’t like about this, is that there are obvious uses of this thing outside of the basic computing needs Jobs demoed.

Imagine being able to use this thing as a next generation “mouse.” Perhaps it would allow multiple windows to be tossed around the screen, or moved around “Three-card Monte” style. It’d be revolutionary.

I dare you to name a piece of software intended for creation that couldn’t benefit from a multi-touch input pad–perhaps even customizable based on the context your in within the app? Photoshop sliders? Aperture light tables? Scaling and carving models in Cinema 4d or Maya? The list goes on.

Now, imagine 2 of them working in tandem. On the left, you have a hunking half-keyboard for the Q-W-E-R-T half, and on the right the Y-U-I-O-P half. Suddenly, we have a multitouch split keyboard (without haptic feedback of course), which could be the next generation of FingerWorks TouchStream style devices, which Apple, for reasons unbeknownst to me, ceased the operations of. (If I had to guess why they killed off FingerWorks, it’d be that Apple thinks the market for ergonomics is oodles smaller than mobile multi-touch devices–and I reckon they’re right.)

The real disappointment with the iPad isn’t that it can’t run multiple apps, or that it’ll be another $29.99 a month for 3G support for iPhone users. It’s not even that the pixel density of the thing might make it tough to read books on. The real disappointment is the fact that the device is locked down and we’ll never get the chance to use it to innovate the way we interact with our real computers.

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— 2010-01-28