What comes after the iPad?
The impact of the iPad is huge. Taking away the keyboard makes the Internet a medium of consumption more like the newspaper or the television. What was a free-roaming user-driven wild land is now a closed-garden, walled-off appmosphere where people watch video and read word. It might seem like I’m disparaging the iPad for doing all that, and I am on one level, but on another level, the iPad is liberating. No moving parts and a superior operating system means it is much more reliable than the crankboxes of yore. A high quality screen means less squinting. Let’s take these advantages and disadvantages and call them a trend. What do we think will supersede the iPad? What will take it’s new direction and make it even newer? What device is next?
Is your smartphone, say with a bigger screen, going to be next? Samsung has a new phone with a small projector. If the screen can be projected, and if the phone can be controlled with voice or motion, a la Xbox Kinect, then perhaps your phone is the Internet communications device of the future. The advantage of that would be that everybody already has a phone, and that would make a separate iPad unnecessary. Not far-ranging enough? Read on.
Send messages, call people, watch videos, all in front of your eyes and around your ears! The only questions is how will Google integrate advertisements into the glasses? Will they be obtrusive? Who knows…
A series of Android tablets
If history repeats itself, then Microsoft’s strategy–make a standard computing environment despite a multiplicity of hardware environments–should be successful for Android. The new quad-core tablets with nVidia chips are much faster than the clunky ones of yore (I don’t miss the days of yore). This would be the most conservative future: a slate-style Internet device where we experience pretty conventional media, and type short emails or make Skype calls. Microsoft’s advantages–security, convention, corporate backing–would be imitated by Google, and Apple would chase some crazy new market. If this doesn’t satisfy you, try a more dangerous future.
This is a risky bet for what comes after the iPad, but just hear me out. The iPad, with it’s long battery life and beautiful Retina display, is here to stay. Considering its basics haven’t changed since 2010, it’s probable that there won’t be something to replace it soon. It’s replaced my clunky laptop, and for casual email-writing, the touch screen is more than sufficient. If those other things I mentioned don’t bear out–if their sizes represent too much of a compromise, if the technology for the glasses does not bear fruit, if Android doesn’t get its act together–then the common people will settle on iPads for some years. What is practically inevitable is the merging of technology and body. The human brain is simply the most complicated massively parallel processing unit we know of. When technology becomes sophisticated and delicate to the point where we and it come together, well, I will leave you to judge the impact.
The future is never certain and rarely able to be guessed. Still it’s fun to try to divine what shape things will be. I would be happy with any of these possibilities. What do you think?