There’s been a hefty debate for the past week about who exactly Apple is targeting with their iPad. It’s missing some core features like a camera, multitasking, and Flash but it’s still far from a failure. I’m under the belief that when you get your hands on one, what it does it does tremendously well. Beyond the masses, the iPod could be a huge hit among the older generations.
I think we can agree that more than any other generation, it’s the oldest that struggles the most with modern technology. They didn’t grow up taking computer classes, playing Oregon Trail, or even using a cell phone. But today, where nearly everything we do involves some form of advanced technology, few appliances are intuitive and easy to use.
If you’ve ever been playing with your iPhone or iPod Touch and someone who’s never really seen or touched one up close asks you to try it, you’ve probably noticed how easily it is to pick up on. Sure, when you hand it off they’ll ask how to turn it on, but if you tell them to figure it out themselves they do. It’s only a matter of time until they’re popping in and out of applications, exploring what’s possible. All of this is made possible by one of, if not the most, intuitive user experiences available.
One of the beauties behind the iPhone OS is the absence of a file structure. On a desktop, you’ve got applications to open like Word that require you to sift through file hierarchies to find what you’re looking to open. It’s incredibly easy to misplace folders that contain plenty of pictures and attaching stealthy files to emails is certainly no fun.
The iPhone OS aggregates all files that can be used by a particular application in the application they’re used, preventing them from being misplaced or so hidden they might as well be deleted. Instead, most of the things that make up a traditional computer we’re so accustomed to using get push down, hidden until they’re called up. The seemingly absent file structure helps level the learning curve that comes standard with any desktop OS.
It wasn’t until recently that my own grandma made the transition from dialup to an always-on connection. She’s got one computer hooked to a modem that feeds into the wall; thankfully no router to manage a wireless connection. Since she really doesn’t know what a modem is, does, or how it works, when it needs resetting she’s left calling her ISP’s tech support and communicating in a language she doesn’t understand. You’d expect always-on connections to be just that, but we know it’s not the case.
For $15 a month, she’d get 250MB of data for a true always-on connection. No wires to unplug when the internet goes out, no tech support to call when she cannot connect. As she gets more use from an iPad as she learns its ropes, she may end up needing more data but at only $30 a month, it’s comparable to what she’s undoubtedly paying now. The “hassle-free” part of her connection alone is probably worth half the price she’s paying.
If you’re the go-to troubleshooter for many of your family’s computer issues, you see where I’m coming from. The iPhone OS takes so much out of what we consider a ‘computer’, something that’ll bring usability to millions who pick up an iPad. Get it?