Brendan Dawes
The Art of Form and Code

iPad: it's all about the context

Like I'm sure many people yesterday, I felt a little bit underwhelmed by the iPad announcment. You could hear the resounding "it's just a big iPhone" reverberate across the web as Steve did his thing. But waking up this morning I realised there was a lot more than my initial knee-jerk reaction led me to believe. And they key for me wasn't really the device itself but the setting and quite literally the furniture of the presentation. For me it was all about that comfy looking chair.

With all interaction design, the context is one of the most important factors you have to bare in mind when designing something. Where is it likely to be used? What are the societal situations that a particular thing would be best used for? So the fact that there was, for the first time, a big comfy chair on stage was a big clue as to what Apple think the iPad is going to be used for.

It's a perfect device for the living room. It's casual computing without the computer. In fact it's not a computer; it's about time we ditched that horrible word anyway. It's made for the couch, sitting back with and relaxing. I feel it's almost ambient in its nature; something that might hang around in your living room, waiting to be used for a few minutes here and there. I know of many situations when an iPad would have been better than either an iPhone or a laptop.

I think it's also interesting how the whole 3G thing was really played down, almost an add-on at the end. And they've made it an option anyway. Personally, while I'm sure we will see these being used on the train and elsewhere, I think the home is really where it's at.

I still however think the interfaces for things like Input could be a lot better. Replicating an age old format on a device like this seems a bit obvious. But that's were developers come in - and that's really exciting.

Ultimately though I'm saying all this without having held one in my hands and used it. That is the true test. And I for one can't wait.