I’ve been in possession of an iPad for approximately 51 hours. My impressions so far are good, in fact, very good. Granted, you’ll not get that same clouds parting, ray of sunshine beaming, angels singing moment as when you first held and used an iPhone but it’s still pretty darned special. In fact I get the feeling the iPad is a grower.
When Apple first announced the launch of the iPad I was sceptical as to what its use could be other than simple gadget eye candy. I kept an eye on the press and what people were blogging about with regards to its use and functionality. It didn’t seem anyone could really put their finger on a definitive use for it, it exists in a technology limbo somewhere between the laptop and the smart phone. As a result I dismissed the purchasing of one as ‘gadgetary decadence’ – a disorder I’ve suffered from in the past… but not this time hey? Well, actually…
On the weekend it launched I happened to be in PC World and there happened to be a series of iPads on demonstration, so I happened to queue up in order to satisfy my curiosity. It’s at this stage that things changed. The screen resolution was astounding, the crispness of the interface, the fluid nature of the interaction with the screen… pure poetry. After 2 minutes of use I now didn’t care if it had a real purpose and reason to exist in my world, it simply had to be in it.
I’ve just re-read this post so far and I sound like an absolute raving, Apple mad, gadget fiend and nerd of the highest order. This maybe true and I maybe in denial but I’d challenge most people to not be impressed once they’ve spent some time with an iPad. The user experience from an aesthetic and interface perspective speaks for itself but it’s the purpose built iPad apps that bring it into its own…
Some of the apps deliver the website experience you’ve always craved. Highly intuitive, immersive, rapid, visual, slick, sexy and ultimately rewarding. I found myself last night literally pawing through an interactive cook book app, the culinary world isn’t usually my bag but this app brought the food and recipe off the page (so to speak) in such an engaging way that I started to entertain the idea of holding a dinner party (something I’ve not done for a long time).
This is where I think the iPad and what it delivers becomes really, really interesting. It can truly engage with a user in a way a standard PC, online experience will struggle to emulate. After a couple of days usage my mind has already started to fill with numerous ideas for ‘apps’ that would enhance the brands and businesses of our clients. B2B or B2C there will be ‘engagement points’ within your business that would undoubtedly benefit from having a rich and highly engaging tool to interact and work through. This could of course be delivered through more traditional online methods such as Flash based applications using Adobe Air or Microsoft’s Silverlight with a dollop of J-Query. The important point is that user expectations are on the rise through devices such as the iPad and businesses need to ensure they keep this in mind as they try to engage with customers online.
Is the iPad and its apps the future of digital experiences? No, I don’t think so but they’ll certainly have a part to play in the coming years and will definitely shape the future growth of the online customer engagement experience.