Yes, the news is out. Apple is releasing the iPad, to start shipping in 60 days. There has been much discussion amongst the peanut gallery on this one, but I, for one, am exceedingly happy about the release, although maybe not for the reasons you may think.
The Apple iPad (I keep wanting to type POD) is basically a 10 inch version of their iPod Touch, with some really nice new features. The iPad does all the standard web browsing, games, iPod Touch / iPhone apps (minus the phone part of course), and games that you would expect but it also includes iBook, a really slick looking ebook reader program and iWork Spreadsheets/Presentation/Document software, etc.. What I was most impressed with was the 3G access. For $15 a month you can get 250meg of 3G access from AT&T with NO CONTRACT! That alone almost makes it worth buying for me as Verizon wants to soak me for a 2 year contract and an extra $30 a month…
Do I want one of these myself? Well, I probably wouldn’t turn it down as I think Apple makes some good lookin’ hardware that does what _they_ want it to do well. There are a few problems I see with it though. It does not multitask. That’s right, want to play music while you are editing that spreadsheet or reading that ebook? Nope. No camera on there either. Would have been a killer app for them to have a built in camera for an iChat, or Skype or what have you. It needs a fold out keyboard. I don’t care how slick the touch screen keyboard is, it’s fundamentally flawed as you suck up screen realestate by using it. Lastly, no real OS on there. For most people this isn’t really a problem, but I would like something a little more than an appliance….
So why am I happy about the release? Well, in a word, competition. Now that Apple has set a “standard”, other manufacturers have something to aim for and above for their own product releases. I see manufacturers turning to Linux for this because it’s developer friendly, easier to shoehorn into embedded or strange / smaller devices, and the price is right. I hope to see a multitouch tablet with a full functioning and/or upgradeable/replaceable Linux distribution on it. I want it to have a rollout/foldout keyboard. I want it to have 802.11n and 3G available, and I want to see the price point at or below what the iPad is. Think this sounds too goo to be true? I think we are all going to be surprised. At least I hope so. And just to get things going, check out the TouchBook, which by the way was available BEFORE the iPad. I think we are headed in the right direction and I, for one, am eager to see what happens!