Easter Sunday was a minor blip over the weekend that will now be remembered as the official launch of the iPad — who cares about Easter egg hunts when there were lines snaking around city blocks, and gadget-fans fiercely giving their early impressions of the device. While there could be a variety of effects of the success of Apple’s (s AAPL) iPad on the energy consumption associated with computing (Greenpeace’s and other’s takes here), applications developed for the iPad could also play a role in promoting low-carbon lifestyles like better fuel economy and home energy efficiency.
We’d been hoping that some of the iPhone apps developed for next-generation connected cars and home energy efficiency would be available for the iPad launch, but there’s actually very few. The lone official one we’ve seen that touches on home energy is Control4’s, which enables the user to control a thermostat and lighting (as well as audio, video, security) via the iPad device.
Apple says that most of the current 150,000 iPhone and iPod touch apps will be viewable on the iPad, but those are unofficial versions and won’t necessarily be formatted well for the expanded screen or work exactly the way the iPhone versions work. But there’s already over 1,000 official iPad applications available from some of the eager adopter app makers. And I’m expecting a lot more official iPad applications when the 3G (connected to cellular networks) and GPS-embedded iPad versions come to market.
Here’s 1 official green application you can already get on the iPad, and 4 more green iPhone apps that we’re looking forward to checking out the iPad versions:
1). Control4: Control4’s iPad app was the only green-leaning official iPad application I could find as of iPad launch time. The free app basically turns the iPad into your central home dashboard, enabling the user to control a connected thermostat, lighting, entertainment systems (video, audio), and home security. To get this to work properly, of course you need to buy — and have a dealer install — the Control4 connected home system. An iPad app really plays into the sweet spot of Control4’s offer: a high-end home product, slick design, and a dashboard offering rich media around energy.
2). Tendril: We’re not sure if Tendril has an official iPad app in the works (we’re waiting to hear back on that), but the six-year-old home energy management startup plans to release an iPhone app to both select utility customers and consumers this year. Dubbed Tendril Vantage Mobile, the iPhone app will enable users to see home energy consumption in real time, view dynamic pricing changes, and control connected appliances and thermostats remotely. Like with Control4’s application, the iPad, more than the iPhone, could offer a superior centralized dashboard for home energy management.
3). ZipCar: ZipCar created a free iPhone app that enables ZipCar members to find, reserve, and lock/unlock ZipCars via iPhone. For the iPad version, ZipCar’s service could use the larger screen to integrate more rich media, including navigation, directions, entertainment for, say, touring, and even syncing with audio and visual content. (We’re waiting to hear back on if ZipCar will add more iPad functionality to its app)
4). Nissan LEAF: Nissan has been working on an iPhone app that can connect with the information technology system of its electric vehicle the LEAF and can monitor battery charging and temperature controls (on/off). The LEAF doesn’t go on sale until the end of December, so it’s safe to expect to wait that long for the iPhone app, too. For an iPad version, Nissan could use the larger screen to better incorporate navigation, and entertainment. (Nissan’s Mark Perry, Director, Product Planning and Strategy, will be speaking about connected cars at our Green:Net conference on April 29 in San Francisco). (We’re waiting to hear back on if Nissan will add more iPad functionality to its app)
5). Visible Energy: Young startup Visible Energy (which launched at our Green:Net 2009 conference) was an early advocate of turning to the iPhone for home energy management. And recently the FCC mentioned the company’s iPhone app as an example of how IT can help the environment and global warming. As for Control4 and Tendril, an expanded screen and more rich media could help a Visible Energy iPad application make the consumer experience more interesting and more connected with the consumers digital content and the web. (We’re waiting to hear back on if Visible Energy will add more iPad functionality to its app). Updated: Visible Energy CEO Marco Graziano tells us his company will be developing a native iPad application for the UFO Power Center as well as for other Visible Energy products.
For research on the iPad see GigaOM Pro (subscription required):
Web Tablet Survey: Apple’s iPad Hits the Right Notes: We asked 1,000 early adopters about their interest in owning a tablet. Find out who’s likely to buy and why.
Forecast: Tablet App Sales To Hit $8B by 2015: A detailed look at iPad and other tablet sales, as well as app purchasing behavior, volume and revenue forecasts.
Image courtesy of Chris Albrecht.