Now the dust is settling …

Some thoughts …
I thought it would be a good time to put down some thoughts on the iPad having had time to consider in more depth what it means for me and what it means for mobile music.

Let’s face it that rumours around this product have been around for ages. From the iTablet to the Mac Nano we’ve heard everything, and have ended up with the iPad.

So what is it. Well, it is obviously bigger than the iPhone / Touch and has a faster processor, both of which give it the potential to do more than the smaller class of device. However, it is running the same OS. Or is it? The only thing I’ve heard about differences between the iPhone OS and the iPad OS is that there is some form of file sharing available. It makes me wonder if this is indeeed the only difference, or if it is a start point for Apple to slowing differentiate the 2 device categories.

Of course, this is just conjecture, but it could happen. When Apple first announced the iPhone they billed it as OSX on a phone. But we all know that it isn’t really OSX. This time Apple have pitched the iPad as occupying the middle ground between the iPhone and a laptop, so will the OS follow suit and allow functionality halfway between the locked down world of the iPhone and the more open world of the desktop? Perhaps. I know that this would go some way to pleasing Peter Kirn and many others who were disappointed in the iPad.

But things could change completely as they have done in the past. When Apple launched the iPhone it was completely closed to developers, but they changed and the impact has been enormous. It is not inconceivable that they’ll do something similar again.

Some personal views
I felt a bit let down with the iPad. I was hoping for the Mac Nano. A tiny but fully fledged OSX, like my ancient libretto, but up to date and able to do everything. I don’t think I’m ever going to get that now, I don’t think Apple are interested in such a device.

Personally I don’t see where the iPad would fit for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want one, but these days I’m more wary of tech for tech’s sake. I’ve had too many toys that were fun to play with but in the end served no purpose, and there’s a limit to the amount of stuff you can keep ‘in case it is useful later on’, if you know what I mean.

I can see the target audience for print media and other industries too, but I still struggle to see how I might find it of use.

What iPad might mean for mobile music
More importantly now what might it mean for mobile music making? Well there’s been lots of talk about the likes of lemur and the iPad and how they’ll need to evolve their business etc. Of course, the scope for controllers is massive, but if we start to think of this hardware as Apple have described it, as a middle ground, or filling a gap, then perhaps we should explore more about what gaps there are between current mobile music software and desktop?

What does fit in the gap that Apple are trying to fill? If Apple have found a new genre of device, will we see a new genre of software for mobile music? Thinking back to the launch of the iPhone SDK, it has done incredible things for mobile music, so perhaps we should expect a similar revolution from the iPad?

Wouldn’t that be something wonderful for 2010?

8 comments

  1. Of course we will, and I can't wait! But see my other post about the OP-1, which I fear, is going to get a real hammering from the iPad. I see the OP-1 not making many sales, and it quickly becoming a curiosity. If it had only have been released 5-10 years ago or so, alongside the Machinedrum or whatever, things would probably have been different.

  2. Interesting comments Palm.

    I'm somewhat constrained on what I can talk about vis-a-vis the iPad's OS due to its beta status, but I think I can clarify some issues.

    First, is that the iPad runs “iPhone OS”. “iPhone OS” is the current marketing name for the OS common to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. It's not some different OS from the iPhone. It is just a different device with different feature compatibilities such as a larger screen and some new user interface tools (which you can see in Apple's iPad videos and photo galleries). iPad has a CPU in the same family as the iPhone and iPod touch. It's faster, but the CPU in the iPad runs the same binary code as the iPhone. It does not run Intel binary code.

    Second, is that “iPhone OS” really is “OS X”. It is NOT, of course, “Mac OS X”. Many features in “Mac OS X” started out in “iPhone OS” such as QuickTime X and Core Animation. Likewise iPhone OS gets a lot of functionality that started out on Mac OS X such as Core Audio and Core Data.

    Where the two OSs diverge significantly is in the user interface toolkits (what we used to call a GUI). Although they share some technology, I would not expect the two different user interface toolkits to merge or get any closer than they are today. User interaction on a direct touch-based device is really just too radically different from user interaction with a mouse and keyboard.

    Apple has stated that developers will be able to create universal apps that support both iPhone and iPad devices at their native resolutions and capabilities.

    Apple has also made it clear that existing, unmodified iPhone apps will run on the iPad in an emulation mode that allows the app to run at either its original screen resolution or scaled up to fit the larger screen. In this mode the iPad is literally “a big iPod touch.”

    The third class of apps will be those that are iPad only. These are apps that aren't suitable for the iPhone. Apple has shown a suite of iWork apps that are examples of this class of app.

    All indications are that the gulf between Mac OS X on Intel CPU-based hardware and iPhone OS on ARM CPU-based hardware will never be bridged.

    If one is looking for a more mobile version Mac OS X and compatibility with existing Mac OS X software your energies are best focused on something like the MacBook Air or hackint0sh running on a netbook like the Dell Mini 10V.

    When compared to the Macintosh, the iPad is a new world. That new world comes with new rules and new constraints on usage and new ways of buying software. These new rules may change slightly over time (as we've seen with the iPhone and the App Store). But there is absolutely no indication that Apple has any intention to go back to the old platform's rules.

  3. In terms of how the iPad will fit into our lives, it seems Apple quite deliberately intends iPad to be a more immersive experience.

    The hardware design and user experience as reported by those who have had a chance to try it is that device quickly disappears and you are left with only you and the software.

    The other evidence that supports the emphasis on an immersive experience is the lack of multi-windowing and multiple simultaneous apps. Now that may be a byproduct of the design of the current iPhone OS 3.x that the device will be using initially. But it may also be intentional. If you are watching a TV show, if you are reading a book or magazine on your iPad, the experience is not improved by being constantly interrupted and distracted by incoming tweets, SMS messages, phone calls, emails or other notifications.

    Of course, Apple is expected to deliver a new 4.0 update to the iPhone OS this year that may remove some limitation on running apps in the background. Initially that limitation was imposed due to hardware constraints in the original iPhone such as limited memory and battery power. But the devices have grown in their capabilities and competitive pressure has made support background tasks a more pressing issue on peoples' minds. (Although, I have yet to hear of a real compelling need for this besides running Pandora music service in the background.)

    It will be interesting seeing how the iPad's intentional immersive experience affects the design of music software as this new platform evolves.

  4. I am looking forward to playing instruments like Bebot and iDrum on a bigger screen. Sequencing will also be a lot easier with Beatmaker. Although less convenient to carry around than an iPod Touch, I expect the iPad to be much more effective for music creation before we even see the first apps designed specifically for it. I can imagine an enhance Automap app could make an iPad a very useful tool when working with a proper Mac (or PC).

  5. It does occupy an awkward space, physically and logically. E.g. as I type I am lying in bed, holding my iPhone in my hand and typing with my thumb. I cannot imagine replacing this part of my “information day” with a large heavier device. I'd have to sit up and use an ipad like a laptop. A simple example, sure, but it is hard to see where it would “fit” in my life and my physical space. In some ways the iPhone and iPod touch are too good at doing what the ipad intends to do.

    It would make s lovely object d'art (forgive spelling!) but I'm not spending that much to leave something on the coffee table.

    I think it is music apps where this best fits my life, so it has to be treated as a new music device for me. That's why I find it so darned irresistable!

  6. I'm sure there will be devices like a tablet Mac in the future, but I think I understand why it makes much more sense for both consumers and Apple to take the different approach.

    Others have been trying and not really succeeding to turn PCs into tablets. What exactly would make it different for a Mac? I'm sure Apple would bring something new, but it locks out the things that have really worked for iPhone – the apps, combined with the completely flexible user interface.

    You could say that Apple could make a tablet Mac with different interface functions and get the same types of apps, but why do that? Realistically I'm not sure you will bring the Mac application developers down into the iPad without significantly changing the apps (not to mention lowering their expectations on pricing). Why not just depend on the developers who have proven themselves on the iPhone/iTouch? They have proven their ability to develop many interesting and useful apps and to keep prices very low. iPad should be very interesting to them since they should be able to get higher prices for more functionality.

    I think a lot of the disappointment is from people who have not considered what iPad may turn into for them. If you see it as “just a big iPod Touch” then I would agree that it's not particularly earth-shattering, but I believe that the apps will turn it into something completely different. The current music apps on iPhone are a great example – we could all have expected drum machines, synths and sequencers, but the breadth of apps and innovative ideas really surprised me. I expect I will be surprised again on iPad.

    With respect to OS and hardware features, I think iPhone will get pulled along by its competition. My wife was given a Nexus One by a Google employee, and the hardware is clearly a generation ahead of iPhone. The browser is snappy, the camera is excellent (with flash), video is good, etc. The apps are poor (with some notable exceptions like the Google apps) and the user interface is not so intuitive, but I think all the good things will spur better iPhone development, and of course iPad will also get pushed by iPhone as well as its own competition. I believe that a lot of details like multi-application will get filled in as the hardware gets better.

  7. You can't even leave the thing on a table and use it with both hands, it wobbles, even more than the ipod touch, which I have to put on a pillow if I really want to use both hands on.

    Still I can't wait to see how apps will look and feel when scaled to the ipad screen resolution.

  8. OK, a few thoughts.
    First, yes, its just a big ipod touch.
    Second, wait a second, a big ipod touch sounds like a pretty useful tool.
    At the moment I have lots of apps on my ipod touch 2G that sound like a good idea but the screen size makes it impractical or inconvenient to use – for instance using the ipod touch as an ebook or pdf reader.
    Many music apps come into this category. I am constantly annoyed with many synth apps and thier tiny switches and keys. Doubling the size of the screen would make a huge difference for many of my current apps.
    Multi-tasking?
    For music production this is almost essential. Almost, because the example of audiocopy/paste has shown an alternative way to easily transfer music between programs. We need more app developers (and Apple itself) to realize the advantage of such approaches to musicians.
    Finally I think it is clear that the ipad is not the ideal solution for the consumer. It was not designed purely for the consumer but for a company that is interested in getting into the ebook reader (and ebook sales) market but still wants to be able to keep its share of the small laptop market.

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