Why I Still Don't Care About The iPad

By Sam Machkovech March 30, 2010

The iPad is a bigger iPhone.

Don't read that as a flippant dismissal. The iPad, set for release this weekend, expands the iPhone's screen and inner guts in significant ways, setting the stage for the device to run more substantial applications. Yesterday, biz magazine Fast Company geeked out about some of those new apps (and, okay, I can't deny the usefulness of a kitchen app that includes recipes and shopping lists).

But there isn't much that the iPad (retail price: $499-$829) can do that the iPhone ($99 and up, depending on contract) can't. They're both touch-screen computers that benefit from Apple's simple, smart interface. Browsing, shopping, using the touch screen, and so on—it's solid, but all the same. There'll be a new iBook store, sure, but the iPhone could conceivably run that, too.

By piggybacking on the iPhone world, the iPad, like the iPhone, still won't allow substantial multitasking between apps; I can't use my This American Life app while loading Google Maps on my iPhone, for example. Also, with a bigger touch screen, it would be cool to be able copy and paste things like doodles or handwriting between apps, but the iPhone doesn't have that feature, so neither will the iPad.

Fast Company loves using the word "revolutionary" to describe the iPad. Let's face facts: the iPad is a 2007 device. That leaves competitors plenty of room to make 2010—or even 2012—devices. Microsoft Courier is poised to do just that.

Haven't heard about the Courier? Watch this leaked video of Microsoft's prototype tablet device from last year, which showcases handwriting recognition and two-screen "page flip" mechanics:


There's a reason I care about the Courier more than the iPad. Microsoft, as they did with the Windows Phone 7 Series, is making their devices smarter from the root level. The Windows Phone includes more basic multitasking and app sharing infrastructure (how well that will work remains to be seen, but my impression from a few weeks ago was already superior to the iPhone). And if the Courier is even 1/7th as good as the prototype video above, with handwriting recognition built in from the ground up (read: not enabled with an extra app, and not forcing other apps to sloppily load their own handwriting code), then Microsoft will release a more elegant device by default.

On April 3, you gadget hounds can have your iPad. If I receive one, I'm gonna do like Pee-Wee Herman while I wait for the Courier.
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