In between my reading and writing yesterday, I did sneak in all 11 iPad guided tour videos. As I expected, they’re typical Apple fare: high quality, focus on features and make mundane tasks seem magical. Each video highlights a specific application or feature and the most impressive video was the one I wasn’t going to watch: Keynote. (Really!)
I can’t remember the last time I had to create a presentation, but I can assure you it was done in Google Docs. Clearly, I don’t have much need for Keynote and therefore I don’t foresee myself buying it. But I encourage you to watch it, even if you too don’t ever plan to create a presentation again in this lifetime. Why? Because it exemplifies a specific attribute Apple currently offers like few others do today: an outstanding and common sense use of multitouch.
The Keynote video demonstrates how to move one slide in the deck to another location. It’s a simple tap to hold and then a drag action. I was about to say “Yeah, but what a pain that must be to move multiple slides,” since I didn’t see a way to multi-select. That’s because you’re not really selecting the slides — you’re interacting with them. Wouldn’t you know that as soon as the thought crossed my mind, the video showed the use of a second finger to tap other slides while holding the first one. Each tap sends a slide under the first and you simply drag the whole pile elsewhere in the deck. It’s a simple interaction, yes, but it shows how much thought Apple put into the user experience.
Think about that for a second, because touch computing isn’t new. We’ve seen it on computers for the last few years — although it’s only recently that Windows supports touch natively — and on handhelds and PDAs for well over a decade. Multitouch really opens up the possibilities for interaction with computing environments, the web and our data. What we haven’t seen is clever, intuitive and effective use of touch like this before.
Am I saying that the iPad is the best thing since sliced bread? Nope, not by a long shot. My point isn’t so much about the device because there’s plenty not to like for some: a closed ecosystem, lack of x86 application compatibility and an ergonomically challenged keyboard. How to use multitouch while holding the device is another head-scratcher. But the idea here is that Apple isn’t just putting out another touch device. Apple is maturing the old usage patterns of touch computing beyond what its competitors have done. That may not change your views on the iPad, but it ought to get you considering how we’ll interact with computers a few years from now.
I’m sure some of you watched the guided tour videos and I’m curious if anything impressed you. Or perhaps you came away with validation that it’s just a big iPod Touch and nothing special to see. Thoughts?
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):