The Coming of the Third Kind: Meet the iPad

© Apple

Updated with additional commentary.

Originally titled ‘What the iPad really is, what the iPad may become’

In November 2009, I wrote about a unique app that changes the way people do photography with their iPhone in The Missing App & What Lies Ahead article:

CameraBag might be just the first of a new generation of imaging apps to grace the desktop space; one that does just one thing and delivering it with an uppercut instead of multiple & tiring jabs; the desktop imaging space has been anything but bloated, complicated & overpriced, the arrival of such app will open up some new horizon of what can be done and how to do it simple.

Apple has raised the bar once again, dubbed as the iPad, the tablet form device is their answer to the NetBook. Sporting the now standard accelerometer, compass & multi-touch screen display, the iPad is a giant iPhone utilizing a custom-designed, integrated, mobile-optimized Apple A4 chip running a slightly modified iPhone OS on a 1024-by-768 pixels with 132ppi pixel density.

The big surprise isn’t the long-expected Apple’s own chip, the 10-hr battery nor the gorgeous software UI, it’s the 4:3 aspect ratio that Apple themselves killed with their introduction of widescreen displays, who’d want 4:3?

Adam Lisagor made an interesting observation; while it is technically logical & convenient for Apple or developers, it is uninspiring both creatively and artistically.

Scientists & mathematicians have long argued that 3:2 is the golden rule for universal size ratio, visually amusing & scientifically correct doesn’t mean it’s technically/physically logical, but unlike a laptop or TVs, the iPad is designed to be used vertically, like most magazines & paperbacks.

Regardless of the pixel density or size of the display, the iPad is a digital canvas that gives us a touchable art with its excellent multi-touch gestures/accelerometers & the App Store’s 140.000 and counting app catalog — given our 10 fingers and unlimited imaginations, the iPad is a magic pad that’ll bring our art to life, instantly!

What the iPhone lacks was a screen size that makes sense, what the desktop/MacBook lacks is multi-touch fullscreen displays that limits our live interaction with whatever we are doing, imagine, instead of click and dragging the mouse while fiddling with a never-ending list of keyboard command, we are actually touching, pinching, swiping our subject directly on screen, for the first time ever, we are finally operating on our patients with with real clamps & knives like doctors have been doing all along. Would you trust a surgeon doing it via a keyboard and a mouse?

Like the iPhone, the iPad is unveiling that missing link between us & the digital space, and taking it further for our day-to-day and professional lives. Like the iPhone, it to revolutionize personal computing to the point it makes perfect sense, those of you who think they’re not powerful enough, who think that iPhone needs its own finder to play with the file systems, should really have some moments alone and ask this question: “What is the purpose of all this?”.

The reason how the iPhone has made Apple a $50 billion company, and the reason why millions of people around the world are craving for it, is the same reason why you we all pay a hefty price for a car that actually hurts the environment; there’s a need for it, and all it need is an engine and a set of 4-wheels to make a car; and the iPhone with its gorgeous multitouch screen display, a home-button, on/off & ringer switch with volume control is what it takes to function as a phone, heck, car keys are almost irrelevant these days, and Apple is leading us to that vision where simplicity is a bliss.

Even at such a low price (starting at $500), Apple is going to have a tougher time selling it to the mass, the iPhone, a pocketable computer that actually does make phone calls and the MacBook & the iMac are proven entities of what people need computer-wise; photography, painting or book-reading aren’t as straightforward, down-right-simple as listening to music from your iPod, it takes more than just pushing the play button for people to get used to the iPad, but the potential is definitely there. We just need to grow our imagination, widen our horizon and opening up to the infinite space of possibilities… we need to progress and the iPad has now finally came along for a whole new experience of personal computing.

Photography, as Steve Jobs said during the iPad launch, has never look so beautiful on any device, ever. His vision, along with the brilliant minds at Apple is to close the gap between technology and liberal art — when things are so well-thought, well-planned and finely executed, doesn’t that make it a form of art?

The CameraBag app—being the inspiration of the aforementioned piece—is a good illustration to what the iPad is capable of, and how visual artists and photographers can integrated it as their tool-of-the-trade. There are hundreds of thoughts and ideas circling around the web on what the iPad can really do, specific to photographers, Photojojo posted some ideas on (what I also think) how it can be used by photographers, let alone it’s IPS screen designed to consistently display colors and brightness from any angle, and a little bonus of ‘Photo Frame’ mode (the icon next to the unlock slider)… developers, camera makers, are you imagining yet?

What a great way to start the new decade.