Now that Apple’s iPad has launched, what can you do with it? What kind of new and existing applications will we see on this new Apple product line? Apple has released an updated software development kit with an iPad simulator to encourage developers Relevant Products/Services to create new applications or revised versions of existing ones.
The iPad, with an updated version of the iPhone operating system Relevant Products/Services, can utilize the approximately 140,000 applications currently in Apple’s App Store, but there are limitations. The main one is that those applications were developed for the smaller screens of the iPhone and iPod touch.
Doubling an App’s Pixels
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, attended the iPad launch and tested “a lot of applications.” He noted that existing apps run on the iPad in a boxed window. Within the box, he said, the resolution is fine, “but it’s just too small” when seen on the iPad. He noted that an on-screen button enables doubling the pixels of the app, so it fills the screen.
“For some apps,” Greengart said, “that works fine,” such as the popular Bejeweled game, where the small jewels become larger. But for other applications, he noted, this artificial resolution is not very satisfactory.
The additional screen real estate also gives more room for interaction Relevant Products/Services and information. Greengart noted that office-productivity programs are available for the iPhone and iPod touch, but the screen size and lack of a keyboard greatly restrain a user’s ability to accomplish work. On the iPad, users can work more normally. In addition to the larger screen size, an iPad dock for connecting a keyboard is being released.
Greengart also pointed to a Major League Baseball application Relevant Products/Services designed specifically for the iPad, which was shown at the launch. The iPhone version, he said, is intended for “quick hits of information,” but there is substantially more room on the iPad for the kinds of stats that baseball fans love.
‘New Kinds of Social Games’
Another area that could excite developers is games. Al Hilwa, program director at IDC, said he envisions “new kinds of social games” where iPad users could sit around a living room and play the same game. Hilwa noted these games probably wouldn’t be the kind that run better with the controllers available on portable game devices, but games that utilize multi-touch controls.
iPads and similar devices, he said, have advantages over laptops for this kind of social game play, including instant-on, multi-touch, battery life, and easy handling with the form factor.
But while the iPad could offer opportunities for new and existing applications, Hilwa said there are at least two issues with the device that could hamper development.
One is the lack of multitasking, which has been widely noted and has become a selling point for iPhone-competing smartphones that do allow more than one app to run at a time. The fact that Apple did not add multitasking to the iPad, he said, was “an opportunity missed.”
He also mentioned the lack of a camera, which will mean that existing camera-related iPhone apps won’t work. But, Hilwa said, this first iPad is “just the beginning” for tablet-based computers, and these kinds of devices could have a large impact on the way computers evolve.