Although It's Been Said Many Times, Many Ways: The iPad is the f.u.t.ure

I've been using the iPad since Saturday. Here are my thoughts and impressions so far.

Imageabove: iPad, Down on the Street

After a weekend using the iPad, I've realized I'm not interested in hedging my reaction to it with careful considerations of its lack of a USB port or webcam. It's not every day, or every year or maybe even every decade that we're able to see a piece of technology that takes a familiar human experience--here, using a computer--and fundamentally changes it. But that is what I think the iPad has done.

Maybe this is a honeymoon phase. Time will tell. But I don't think it is. To support that, and because I know no one wants to read another monolithic 3,000-word iPad review running through every feature, what follows are some assorted notes and impressions from my first weekend of using this machine and how it pertains to the f.u.t.ure of using computers. Some may be on the fragmentary side--please jump in the comments if you feel inspired to add to the conversation or would like to hear more.
The Screen

It starts from the moment you pick it up and that obsidian black pool comes to life. On paper it's not by any means the highest-resolution screen at 1024x768 spread over 9.7 inches of diagonal glass. Many netbooks pack a higher resolution into the same size. But somehow, it manages to be the most breathtaking screen I've ever seen. Maybe because there's basically nothing else--an inch of black glass bezel surrounds it, rimmed by a thin lip of aluminum, but from the front that's it. All screen. And its saturation and clarity is astounding.

And oh yeah, you can touch it. You can touch everything, and it reacts instantly. It's fast. The glass feels cool and smooth on your finger, but after a while you're not touching glass. You're touching words, pictures, buttons, everything. The Internet. And everything responds.

Plenty of words have been written about the iPad's touchscreen interface, and I can pretty much guarantee that none of them will mean anything to you until you use it. It just can't be expressed. On paper it's just a giant iPod touch. Yes, I've heard that a few times, even said it myself. But then it's in your hand and you're gliding your finger over your favorite websites, panning around the globe with your pinkie tip in Google Maps, feeling like a CIA analyst manning some f.u.t.ure spy satellite terminal. It's one brainstem-level pleasure after another; it reacts to some base human instinct to touch and mani....te something shiny put in front of us, and well, we can't really argue with the brain stem, can we?

And that's why it changes everything. The layers of abstraction are gone, and we're interacting with graphical information in the most natural way possible. Apple's unrelenting focus on simplicity means everything but the touch drops away.
Nothing But Interface

Think about it--on your computer, interfaces are stacked inside each other like a Russian doll. The web site you're looking at sits inside the browser, which sits inside a folder, which sits inside your operating system. Each interface has its own set of conceits and constraints, meaning the resulting experienced is subject to a great many rules dictating what it can and can’t be. But that's not how it is on the iPad. There, a weather app adopts the perfect interface for browsing weather information--pinch and zoom on the giant world radar map; tap the forecast and current conditions blocks for more detailed pop-ups. You touch and it responds. And that's just weather.
The f.u.t.ure of Software is Becoming the ...ure of Hardware

Like the iPhone, the iPad is a blank slate ready to morph into any device with any interface imaginable. It's a million gadgets in one, with each able to express itself with the perfect interface. The hardware is designed to fade into the background, so in a way, developers are conjuring their software into tangible, concrete things that act, essentially, as hardware. The list of physical real word objects the iPhone has made irrelevant: cheap pocket digital camera, GPS navigator, e-reader, voice recorder, bicycle computer, iPod--the list goes on. The iPad, with a screen four times the size, will only make this list longer.

Image above:iPad Back

Using the iPad on the Toilet

Is so, so great. Apple's case with its wedge-shaped lap stand is an essential tool here.
With a Keyboard

For more proof of how this is the f.u.t.ure, connect any Bluetooth keyboard. Immediately, Apple's Pages (the significance of which I've already written about) becomes the coolest word processor I've ever used. A word processor? Cool? But with Words and a wireless keyboard, you can enter text just like we've been doing for generations, and see it appear on a blank white screen. Then pick up this screen, turn it vertically, and add pictures and other formatting with your fingers. Touch a misspelled word and pick the proper correction. Even after a few days, I already know this is how I want to create anything made of pictures and text in the f.u.t.ure.
I'm Typing on the iPad RIGHT NOW

I wasn't going to honor the cliche of typing a review of a device on the device itself, but now that I paired up a Bluetooth keyboard i had in the cupboard, I can't help myself.
Going From an iPad Back to an iPhone

Is hilarious. The same interface motifs put back on a tiny screen makes the proportions seem completely out of whack. Making the world’s most advanced smartphone look like a baby’s toy is something Apple can’t be excited about. This, more than anything, lends credence to the rumors of a new iPhone this summer with a higher resolution display.
It's not Perfect

Believe it or not, a gadget can change computing forever but still have flaws. Shocking, I know! Almost all of the gripes over what the iPad lacks miss the point, but the one that's spot on? The iPad needs multitasking.

(Source: POPSCI )