reflections on Culture
The Year of the iPad: A former doubter realizes there is no stopping the SteveJobs wonder
When it came time to write about a device that has significantly impacted my year — the Apple iPad — I decided I would try something new: For the first time ever, I was going to type an entire article using only the device’s touchscreen keyboard.
After spending about five minutes trying to type and revise that single sentence, I decided that my idea wasn’t so brilliant. The iPad is a great device, but it’s not exactly designed for word processing. It is, however, a fantastic tool for media consumption and communication. And for me, 2011 was the year that I started to use my iPad more and my computer less.
For me, 2011 was the year that I started to use my iPad more and my computer less.
Let me be honest with you: I am, without a doubt, an Apple fanboy. I got my first iPod in middle school, my first Macbook five years ago and my first iPhone a year after that. I read all of the blogs, watch all of the keynotes and mourned with fellow devotees in front of the Apple flagship store in Boston upon hearing about Steve Jobs’ death earlier this year.
I believe in Apple products because I believe in the power of good design to enhance everyday life. That being said, I was disappointed and skeptical when Jobs announced the iPad in January 2010. From what I could see, it was nothing more than a large iPhone with far less functionality.
But as more developers jumped on the iPad app development bandwagon, I began to see the potential benefits of the device. After Apple announced the release of the sleeker and faster iPad 2, I decided to resign my opposition and give the fancy tablet a shot.
As I started to use my iPad on a regular basis, I realized I was thinking about its purpose in the wrong way. It is not intended to replace your computer, especially if you run processor intensive applications or type a lot. It can, however, put a ridiculously wide amount of media at your fingertips.
I’m a college student, and I rarely take my computer with me to class. I take notes the old school way (it helps me retain information), and the only thing I would need my computer for is checking the news headlines before my journalism class or hopping on Tumblr to keep myself awake during a boring lecture. My iPad can do both of these things, and it’s easier to carry.
In terms of physical paper, print media may be a dying breed. But magazines, newspapers and books will continue to exist and improve on devices like the iPad.
I don’t have a TV in my dorm room. My parents have Dish Network in Houston, and I can watch CNN Live and every HBO show on my iPad for free as part of their service.
I subscribe to The New York Times, The New Yorker and GQ. While I still read all three in print, the iPad apps make my life a bit easier. When I’m on the go, I don’t have to carry around a newspaper and multiple magazines. I’ve been slow to jump on the e-reader bandwagon, because I love the experience of reading big coffee table books and glossy magazines.
That being said, the iPad replicates the magazine experience quite well, and often adds unique interactive features.
On top of that, iPad apps like Flipboard have completely changed the way that I think about media. While I’m skeptical of the idea that traditional news organizations and media companies are about to be overthrown by aggregators and social networks, I do believe that the future of media lies in the customizable user experience. With Flipboard, one can add their interests or favorite publications and have a customized magazine-like experience created for them.
2011 was, without a doubt, an excellent year for the iPad. But its rise in popularity is more than just another Apple success story. In terms of physical paper, print media may be a dying breed. But magazines, newspapers and books will continue to exist and improve on devices like the iPad. And as we proceed into 2012, customizing our media experience and being able to share it with our friends through as many social networks as possible will become paramount.
I’ll still be using my computer for many years to come. But, the way I think about computing will definitely continue to evolve as technology does in the New Year. While I used to value screen real estate and speed, I’ve come to realize that all I need is a device that allows me to communicate, watch and listen with little maintenance.
All I have to do is charge my iPad, and everything is just a tap away.
Houston native Dillon Sorensen is a freshman at Emerson College.