5 Reasons iPad 3 Is Bigger than You Think
Today, to mounting anticipation, Apple took the wraps off its next iPad. In doing so, they’ve not only secured a future for their tablet baby, but they’ve pulled off something even bigger: they’ve singlehandedly shaped the future of information display.
Despite the fact that this is “merely” the third iPad, there’s more going on in this revision than you might realize.
With a resolution that easily dwarfs any computer display ever built, this iPad can scarcely be said to have a “screen” anymore. It’s more like a window. And as far as human eyes are concerned, it is literally sharper than reality. It’s true: this 9.7-inch wonder displays more than we can see.
So what does this mean for normal people? Plenty. Here’s why:
iPad 3 Means the End of Resolution, and a New Era for UI Design.
Developers, designers and programmers may look back on this as the day “coding for resolution” ended.
Since most LCD screens operate at a similar number of pixels-per-inch, most software and web design is meant to display at this “common ground”. Images are set at a certain absolute height and width. This is part of why using a super-high-res monitor on your computer makes the toolbars and widgets tiny.
Some software intelligently scales the interface to fit different sizes of display (OS X is particularly bad at this) but, in general, interface design and design in general has tended towards a certain fixed size.
However, with the massive resolution of the iPad 3, everything will be drawn in unbelievably sharp detail– making interface design more of an art than ever. Expect bold, beautiful new UIs that take full advantage of an infinitely-sharp display. Icons that tell you exactly what’s happening. Panels with texture, surface and 3-dimensional lighting.
Typically, interface design has suffered when the iconography gets too “cluttered” and overly fussy. The reason icons work so well is that they’re instantly recognizable. But this is about to change.
We’re about to enter a new era: where icons are clear enough to present information, instead of merely providing access to a function. Even the high-res iPhone 4 has a clean, simple UI made up mostly of text: but it’s on a much smaller display, where additional detail would largely go to waste.
Despite my misgivings about the skeumorphic trend in Apple’s recent design (just look at iCal for a particularly atrocious example), I’m wondering if this was where they were planning to go all along — graphics that represent actual buttons, dials, pages and switches, as well as their states.
Suddenly, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that the real world, captured through the iSight camera, might be reflected off of an app’s virtual surface. (Sure, this might just be silly, but it would look incredible.)
Fortunately, the iPad 3 will still have a Home button.
iPad 3 is the Ultimate Information Display.
Apps have already taken over many of our most pressing information tasks: everything from looking at a map to charting the stars has been made more efficient and more accessible through touchscreen software.
But now, those apps will look years out-of-date. The iPad is as crisp as a real map and as clear as a real piece of paper: it can store thousands of X-Rays, video MRIs, full-size blueprints, and more. Its size and weight is perfect for a large number of “paper”-based tasks, but it has the added benefit of being a computer that can display documents as though they were right in front of you.. Even in areas where paper is dominant, this will prove a decisive advantage in future.
Expect iPads to become even more ubiquitous in areas as far-ranging as mechanical design, CAD, astronomy, mapping, and medical applications, as there is nothing available–at any price–that can compete with that screen.
iPad 3 Means You (Really) Don’t Need a Laptop.
With 4G LTE technology, you really can have a broadband-class connection, a long-life battery and a screen big enough to see. It’s the Holy Grail of mobile computing. For many people living in a 4G LTE area, this is an incredible leap. Android phones have had 4G for some time now, but have incredibly poor battery life to show for it. With the battery life issue resolved (the new iPad gets 9+ hours at 4G speeds), there’s little downside to dumping your laptop entirely.
iPad 3 Means the Touchscreen Has Come of Age.
With such a staggering resolution, iPad 3′s increase in tactile resolution is an added bonus. The iPad can now so precisely identify how and where you’re pushing the screen that it will enable entirely-new categories of even more finely-controlled apps. This is a precision beyond that of a mouse, and perhaps even a stylus.
iPad 3 Marks the End of Spec Wars.
All the other tablet manufacturers should take note: the spec wars are over. They never really existed in the first place.
There is simply nothing to compete with the iPad– not now, and not even for the foreseeable future.
From a hardware perspective, it does exactly what it intends to do– perfectly. Having additional “cores” or more memory is, at this point, mostly pointless. (Certainly not a selling point!)
Speed and memory are only advantageous when their advantages are demonstrated. Now that Apple has both the ecosystem of choice and hardware that puts everything else to shame, it’s hard to see where a competing tablet offers any kind of advantage.
Sure, you might like to tweak your system, and maybe you hate Apple’s ruthless control of the App Store. But what you’re buying is a finished product: unless your goal is to have the most powerful CPU in the smallest device imaginable, it’s difficult to make the case for a 6-core Android tablet with inferior UX, inferior battery life, an inferior screen and a cobbled-together set of services. (“…But it has a USB port!”)
What do you think of the new iPad 3? Is it a pointless upgrade or your next computer? Sound off in the comments!