That iPad isn’t just for “consumption” anymore…

There is a very distinct anti-iPad and anti-Apple crowd.  I know, until 2005 I was a part of it.  I bought my first Apple product, a 5th Generation iPod video in 2005, and my life was forever changed.  To that point, I had been all-Windows all the time, and I did my fair share of Apple-bashing.

Admittedly, Apple deserved some of it.  Apple apologists can wax poetic about the mid 1990s all they want, but the truth is that Apple was going down the tubes, and it took the rehiring of Steve Jobs to turn it all around.

The problem is that Apple of 2013 is very different from Apple of 1995, yet our educational systems are full of IT staff members that came into the system before or during that time period.  Thus they bring their anti-Apple biases to the table.  They block iPads, purchasing Android or Windows tablets, they block Apple computers, and they close their networks to Apple’s Bonjour services that are needed for many important iPad features such as Airplay (I saw a gadget this evening that allows an iPad to mirror without wireless for $299, specially created for districts who will not open Bonjour on their networks.  This is crazy.).

The main arguments against iPads?

1) The iPad is just for consumption.  You can’t create on it.

2) We can’t do what we need to do on iPads.

3) This alternative device is just as good, and it costs less.

4) We can’t open our network to those Bonjour services.

5) iPads are too expensive.

In this post, I’d like to address the first point.  Does anyone truly believe this anymore?  A related argument against iPads, in the consumption camp, is: “Microsoft Office isn’t available for the iPad.”  We keep hearing that Office is coming…but there are plenty of alternatives for the iPad, such as Apple’s own Pages and Google Docs (to name just two).  A recent article claimed that Microsoft may be losing billions of dollars by failing to offer Office on the iPad.  

There was a point in my recent past where I believed that I would still need a notebook computer.  As the ability of tablets continues to improve, and as the variety and ability of apps continue to improve, I am seeing that I was wrong.

I used to think that I would need a computer to store my media.  In reality, it is more efficient and secure to have other sources store my media for me (e.g. iTunes Match).  I used to think that I would need a notebook for music notation software.  Notion is proving that the iPad is a capable platform for music notation.

Now, can I do everything I need to do on my iPad?  Not yet.  But it is getting there.  MakeMusic just released SmartMusic for the iPad.  SmartMusic for the iPad doesn’t do everything that the computer version can do (at least not yet), but SmartMusic for the iPad does more than SmartMusic of 5 years ago. Pages for iPad can’t do everything that Pages for Mac can do, but it probably will.

And there are certain iPad apps that I already like better than their Windows/Mac versions, such as Keynote.

The fact is that the iPad is the most flexible computing device we’ve ever seen.  Its portability, light weight, and long battery life make it more practical than a traditional netbook computer.  The abundance of apps and excellent developers (some just waiting for the next idea) make the iPad able to do just about anything.

I used to say that there are things my MacBook can do that my iPad cannot; but there are things that my iPad can do that my MacBook cannot.  The truth is that I’m not sure how much longer it will be before my iPad can do everything my MacBook can do, and more.

The CEO of Blackberry recently stated that the tablet would be dead in five years.  Of course, this is coming from a company that has had zero success making tablets.  But what he says may have a ring of truth, because tablets may become what we know as computers.  Steve Jobs likened tablets vs. computers to cars vs. trucks.  Both will still exist, but trucks (computers) will be used for specialized applications, whereas cars (tablets) will be owned by everyone.

It is possible that Apple could lose the lead in education (and tablets as a whole), but as for now, that isn’t the case.  In terms of music education, the software available for Android is limited (and often of exponentially worse quality than an iPad app), and music software written for Windows is mired in the use of a keyboard or tablet, losing any tablet advantage.

You can’t wait for the next trend, as you will wait forever.  But you can make a decision to go with a device that can be used today, with the tools you need today.

You can create content on an iPad.  And apps like Notion for iPad or GarageBand demonstrate that you can do so effectively and even efficiently.  Yes, you can use an iPad for content consumption, like any other digitial device.  But it is foolish in 2013 to say you can’t create on the device.  The next time you hear someone say this, please, call them on it.

It’s fine if you don’t like iPads, or if you don’t like Apple.  If that represents your point of view, be honest about it.  Don’t use a false mantra.  And this is coming from a recovering Windows addict.


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