iPad – It’s just a big frickin’ iPhone, surely?

Since I’ve seen a few posts about the damn thing, I’m going to weigh in with my two pence.

One of my clients has recently been developing an iPad application for one of their major clients, and I’ve helped with the planning stages and keeping an eye on the delivery of the project. As such, we’ve had a few of these things knocking around the office and I’ve had my hands on them and played with them a bit.

My first impressions are underwhelming. If I put on my uber-geek hat, it’s a giant iPhone. It comes with the iPhone limitations and strengths. You can’t really tinker with the thing, it’s locked down tighter than a nun on retreat, and you can only really do what Apple says you can do with it. It’s less portable than an iPhone, and (I) found it quite heavy to hold for an extended period of time. The technical geek in my says “for the love of God – WHY?”.

But when I take off by technical-geek hat and put on my consumer hat, it’s a different game. Yes, it’s a giant iPhone[1]. And the iPhone has two major things going for it – App Store apps and Mobile Safari. Now the apps are pretty cool, and I’ve seen some that I’ve been suitably impressed by for mobile productivity (Things for starters, Mail is a definite improvement). The drawing apps are also suitable impressive and I was definitely tempted when I saw the venerable Omnigraffle on the iPad (for those unaware, I toiled with Visio for years. Then was shown Omnigraffle and cried tears of joy).

But for me, the biggest, the biggest and bestest (I know that’s not a word, but I don’t care) thing about the iPad is having a nine-inch, decent web browser. Because that provides a portal to stuff that Apple don’t have control over (not yet). Steve Jobs said in the WWDC keynote yesterday that HTML5 was their first platform, and the App Store second. With Android looking to go the same way, all bets are on HTML5.

And a nine-inch iPad is just about the right size to throw down in a meeting and have a small table of people peer over. It makes a great collaboration tool. I’ve used it a couple of times now in planning meetings for sprints and despite a couple of glitches JIRA and Greenhopper works great on the format. The format allows you to throw ideas together and plan sprints collaboratively without needing to lug a laptop, projector and designated minion to manage it all. You can put the screen flat on the table, making people feel part of the process rather than just talking to the man with the laptop.

So whilst it’s a great personal productivity tool, for me the great benefit is collaboration. I can see Balsamiq or Omingraffle (not tried it yet) being the next move for collaboration, getting people around for throwing UML use cases or interface designs together and getting all that lovely input together.

It probably goes without saying that I won’t be getting an iPad for myself. I’ll be waiting for a device like the Notion Ink Adam, running Android of course. 😉

[1] I’ve just been corrected by Caius the pedant that since the iPad does not make calls, it is infact a giant iPod touch, not a giant iPhone. I stand corrected.