Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is the Apple iPad magical?

Is the Apple iPad magical? One definition of magical is the following: “resembling, produced or working as if by magic”. Does the Apple iPad allow things to happen as if by magic? I would say “No, no it does not!” But it does do things that would resemble magic or appear to happen as if by magic. I know what you are thinking, this guy must be nuts or is sniffing some magic dust of his own. I assure you I am neither crazy nor stoned. Hear me out before you pass judgment.

As a techie, I understand megahertz, random access memory, gigabytes, LCD, HDMI, processors and other techno-bumbo-jumbo that technology devices are comprised of. I understand how many of the components of a PC, smartphone, tablet or server work. For many non-techies, these things do appear to just work by magic. BUT, when they see a piece of hardware with fans blowing, lights blinking, producing heat and contained in a hulking case; mentally they know something is happening behind the scenes in hardware. When they look at software, they have no idea what it takes to make the software do what it does; all they know is it does what they want. They don't know or care how either work - only that it does. I know this because they call on me to do "my magic" on their systems. They literally do think it is magic - that I have supernatural powers that allow me to fix the issues.

What IS magical? The art of producing illusions or tricks. The use of techniques to exert control over the supernatural. What is used in or done by magic. Is anything enchanting? People are quick to say that the iPad is NOT magical, but what IS magical to them? Is a trip to Disney World magical? The word is used far more than most realize and without this much scrutiny. The iPad is in fact magical.

Battery life is absolutely magical. I have owned a LOT of laptops, mobile devices and smartphones. With every single one of them I have had to be concerned and consciously think about managing the battery life. With the iPad I do whatever I need to do and whenever I need to do it, without a single solitary concern for the battery. It is the first device where having a internal, non-changeable battery is not an issue. It is the first device that I can take on a trip and use through the wait, the flight, the event, the leisure periods without thinking about the battery. It is the first battery operated device that I didn't have to buy extra power cords, car chargers, extended or extra batteries to get through the day. No more getting to the event early so I can get one of the few seats with both a view and a power socket. My Samsung Epic smartphone is proof that being able to do a lot of neat stuff is not enough; my battery and backup battery never lets me get through a full day and I barely do an fraction of what the phone can do. The iPad has made my battery concerns disappear.

Do I even own a laptop anymore? Yes, in fact I have one in the bed room, one on the dining table and a netbook on the night table. Unless you visit my home, you may never know that truth. Since May of 2010, I have not taken a laptop out of the house (Except for a few Jailbreaking sessions at the local Panera Bread locations). The iPad has practically made my laptops disappear. Just like a magician doesn't really make the beautiful assistant disappear, my laptops are really gone - but they might as well since they don't get used much by me anymore. This may not seem like a big deal, but took my laptop everywhere. I always had some hulking bag on my back, shoulder or wheeling behind me. My trunk of the car always had a spot cleared for the laptop bag. My job requires that I am available for and to access remote computers for service. The laptop used to provide that function and is in fact provided by the company, but my personal (bought with my own money) iPad is the device used for these tasks. The iPad allows me to accomplish the same support in a fraction of the time; sometimes in less the time it would take for my laptop to boot up and for me to get authenticated.

The iPad is cool. It is a very nice looking device, but I am not talking about the slang word cool as in neat-o or awesome. With my all of my smartphones and net-books and laptops, I have always experienced some kind of heat during heavy usage. This heat rise happens during charging, heavy video usage, or some them ALL of the time (to the point my lap almost getting burned). With the iPad I have not experienced ANY heat coming from it even after streaming hours of straight video content. I carry it is a case called the Wallet (by Happy Owl Studio) and it doesn't even it warm. I have a Sprint MiFi 2200 for Internet usage on the go. I carry it in the case too and that little tiny device WILL get hot. My Samsung Epic gets hot as it chewing through the batteries, but my iPad remains cool through the day, usage and charging. Now that is cool, in the slang use of the word.

"Instant on" has been a magical experience as well. While the iPad is far from being the first or only device to give me this function, but combined with the battery life, weight, screen size and array of useful apps; it has never been more invaluable as it is now.

Incredible touch experience. Touch experience really is revolutionary and even magical. The screen's touch interface makes browsing, manipulating photos, working with documents, checking out the periodic table, playing games and many other functions quite smooth and enjoyable - all with the fingers. If you think your experience with other touch screen device has prepared you for the Apple iPad interface, you are in for a surprise. The interface feels so natural that many don't even consider it at all. They interact with the device in ways they never have done with a computer before, yet they act as if it is as natural as well tying their shoes.

The people that we associate magic with, beside unnatural sources such as Witches, and Wizards and Sorcerers, are Magicians. Surely they are magical, right? That's what they do, right? Mark T. Joseph, a professional Magician, responds with this answer when asked "What does the magician 'sell' or 'offer you?":

The truth is, we sell memories. Now, here is where the problems come in. If you get an awesome magician - he or she sells you awesome memories and if you get an average magician, he or she sells you awful memories.

That is quite close to what good technology does, it moves out of the way and makes you forget that it is there and replaces itself with the results. As I sit here watching Nanny McPhee Returns on my Panasonic 50" Plasma TV. The movie is being streamed from Amazon via the Video rental app on the Panasonic SA-BT230 home theater system. Instead of sitting away at the table on the laptop, I type this article on the iPad. Sitting here with the family creating memories together instead of apart. The iPad has allowed us to be together more. My job and blog require constant and unpredictable intervals of time to resolve issues or to post stories, the iPad allows me to accomplish both without leaving my family. There are times when my wife and I need to be together, but the Lifetime channel is her choice for viewing television. The iPad allows me to stay in bed or the couch or even out about the town with the family and still get done what has to be done.

Many of the apps are magical in and of themselves We use it as a family to play games like the Game of Life and Plants vs Zombies has created countless memories. Logmein Ignition and TeamViewer has let me operate my computers and other computers without difficulty. So this post PC device can't do everything that your desktop can, but with these (and many more) apps you can do it on the desktop - from the iPad. Maybe not magical, but very, very useful.

The TouchRetouch app ($0.99) is truly magical app. If you have not seen it in action, you have to. With just a few swipes of your fingers, you can make people and items disappear from your photographs. ColorSplash let's you transform a color photo into a Black and White photo and then add color back with your finger. The Pocket Pond app magically transforms your iPad into a Koi pond. The graphics, sound and realism of the fish movement is awesome. You think the DVR has transformed your viewing habits? Despite the content providers disputes with the Cable providers concerning their efforts to view programing on the iPad, the ABC Player, Netflix and Hulu apps have already done so for many iPad owners.

The iPad is not only making some new laptop and desktops sales disappear, but also sales of some premium cable channel packages and even portable or handheld gaming consoles sales. The device that nobody thought was needed has magically found a home for many uses in the hearts of the users. I could go on and on about the device and the apps that make it magical, but you still won't believe me - seeing is believing. Take a visit to the Apple store and experience it for yourself.

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