In a blog post on Friday, The Omni Group, a major developer of productivity applications for the Mac, announced that it will be bringing five of its most popular applications to the iPad platform, namely: OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, OmniFocus and OmniGraphSketcher. According to its announcement, The Omni Group is making a major shift in its development cycles because it sees the iPad as “the best computing device for most of the things people use computers for.”
This news certainly makes one think about the placement of the iPad in the computing world. In the few days since the announcement, many have panned the device, focusing on things like the lack of multi-tasking and a built-in keyboard when arguing that it could not replace a computer for most people. The refrain “It’s just a big iPhone or iPod touch,” has been heard over and over again when dismissing the iPad as a computing platform. After all, the iPod touch is certainly an impressive device, but no one expects it to replace even a netbook, no matter how big the screen is. Even Leo Laporte, usually known as an Apple evangelist, declared himself somewhat confused by Apple’s demonstration of iWork, indicating that perhaps it oversold the device’s capabilities.
The Omni Group’s excitement about bringing its applications to the platform, however, is just the latest indication that some disagree with this characterization. For example Joe Hewitt, the former developer of Facebook for the iPhone, wrote a long blog piece discussing how much more capable the iPhone OS is than people think, and that it only lacked a larger display to really come into its own. Apple has also made itself clear about the capabilities of the iPad with its demonstrations of iWork applications that are not stripped down versions but fully capable desktop-class programs in their own right.
One problem may be in how many pundits view iPad applications right now. Despite Apple showing us just what was capable with iWork, most pundits are still focused on the fact that the iPad can run iPhone applications. They are thus distracted by the idea of scaling phone applications up to a larger device. Developers like The Omni Group and Joe Hewitt, however, make it clear that they are thinking about things from the opposite direction, scaling desktop-class applications and websites down to the iPad. It’s also clear that, like Apple, they see this transition not as a step down to a more limited platform, but as a lateral step to a platform that offers opportunities you can’t get on a desktop or phone device.
It may be that our perspective of the iPhone OS is simply off. Many consider it to be nothing more than a cell phone operating system, so they look at the iPad and wonder how capable a larger device running a phone’s operating system can be. The reality, however, may be that Apple sees the iPhone or the iPod touch as a small iPad, and that what we know of as the “iPhone OS” was actually meant to provide the foundation for a much more capable computing device from the very beginning.
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