We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we need to complete a task and the appropriate implement for the job isn’t available. Or maybe it is available, but it’s just not immediately at hand. If I encounter a loose screw on one of the cabinets in my kitchen, my mind immediately tries to recall the location of the nearest screwdriver. When I realize that said screwdriver is on the other side of the house or out in the garage, I then start looking around for a suitable, one-time stand-in like the tip of a table knife or a narrow key. Clearly, I’m not going to use a tool like this to drive all screws from that point forward because it’s inefficient, but it will get the job done in a pinch. Such is my opinion of the iPad for “content creation”.
While there are obvious proofs of the concept that the iPad can be used to create things instead of just consuming them, I think we need to take a step back and consider the idea that just because it’s possible to create with the iPad doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPad is the best tool for a given job. When talking about content creation, typically people mean things like writing, shooting and editing photos and video and other visually creative things like drawing or sketching. I won’t argue that the iPad can do most of these things, but I will argue that it doesn’t excel at any of them to the point where it’s a better tool than a “regular computer”. It comes down to the concessions you’re willing to make.
For instance: I’m writing these words on an iPad while sitting on my front porch. I’m typing a good deal slower than I would be if I had a physical keyboard, and making more mistakes. I chose to use the iPad in this situation because it was a matter of simply grabbing it off of my desk and walking out my front door. I chose it because I’m not in any particular hurry in writing this, but I also don’t plan on sitting out here all day and just wanted to work on this post for a few minutes, so unhooking my laptop would have been a bigger hassle. I’m making sacrifices of speed and typing accuracy, but gaining portability and mobility. Is the iPad doing a good enough job in facilitating the writing of this post? Yep. Is it the best tool for the job among those available to me? Nope.
I’m not saying that people who opt to take their iPad to a conference instead of a notebook computer are somehow dumb or crazy. I’ve heard lots of people do this and since they’re ostensibly doing so with the understanding that they’re giving up certain affordances by doing so, more power to ‘em. Wanting to travel lighter and have a more compact device with which to take notes or check their email is understandable. The problem is that many of these same people would have you believe that they are simply using a different, yet equally capable, tool for the job at hand and this simply isn’t the case 99% of the time.
Most of the examples of people doing crazy shit on an iPad are to show that said shit is *possible*, not efficient or even practical. If I really wanted to, I could hobble my way through a game of tennis using my iPad to hit the ball, but it doesn’t mean my iPad is an excellent or even passable tennis racket.
I don’t mean to get all ranty here, but I find the endless grandstanding about the iPad’s content creation facilities to be a little tiring. If you show me somebody who can type on an iPad as fast or faster than they can on a “normal” hardware keyboard, then I’ll show you somebody who needs to spend less time trying to convince the world that the tip of a table knife is all the screwdriver they need and more time doing interesting things with their fingers.
The iPad is, in and of itself, truly amazing and I love using it the way I believe it was intended: as a short-term understudy for my Macbook Pro that’s really good at helping me read and watch things in a polished, engaging fashion – and maybe tap out part of a blog post. Occasionally.
Surely you have something you’d like to say about this?