The iPad as a Peripheral Display

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I was thrilled to hear that current apps will be compatible with the iPad, but I’m more excited for apps that haven’t been written yet. Apps for the iPhone and iPod touch are designed for use while being held. There’s an exciting new use case that comes with the iPad — when it’s sitting in the dock. Owners not only have a new device to read news while on the couch, but they also have the perfect peripheral display.

What’s a peripheral display? Something that provides basic information without distracting you from your primary task. It runs silently in the background and it’s there when you need to retrieve some glanceable information. You already use plenty of them every day: clocks, stock tickers, weather icons, unread email icons, etc. I currently use one app on my iPhone as a peripheral display: Flip Clock. I think we are soon going to see a lot more apps like this.

My perfect peripheral display app would come with a few basic widgets like a clock, calendar, stocks, weather, and access to photos on the iPad. The app could then offer upgrades (perhaps $2.99 each) for access to services like Flickr, Picasa, Twitter, Facebook, CNN (and other news sites), etc. The app could be free with the requirement that one of the widgets shows advertisements. A quick paid upgrade (perhaps $9.99) would remove the ads and offer a spot for another widget.

I’ve taken the liberty of mocking up in Photoshop what this app may look like using the iPad GUI. Below you can see a few basic widgets, a tweet that changes every few minutes, and a photo slideshow powered by Flickr. The tweet includes a link which when tapped should close this app and launch Safari. This applies to the other widgets too; tapping them should launch their corresponding apps. Interactivity makes this app better than any digital picture frame available.

There are tons of apps that provide basic information, but now they can be combined to take advantage of the larger screen.

Now that I’ve filled your head with ideas, go build it! Just think of me when you publish the app to the store. Also, let me know if you think this is a good idea.

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