Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apple iPad: The World Changed for Artists Yesterday

It wasn't quite this monumental...

...but it was close, if you are a musician, an artist, or a writer.

That's right, the legendary Steve Jobs descended from the One Infinite Loop mountain and introduced the long-awaited, much-anticipated, endlessly-speculated-about, Apple tablet form-factor device yesterday... the iPad.

Now, I won't deny that I'm a long-time Apple loyalist. You could even call me a, "fanboi." I have three Mac G4 Cubes (One is my mom's computer), a late '05 G5, an original titanium G4 PowerBook, and the last model of the 17" aluminum G4 PowerBook... and the original 5GB iPod, the original 8GB iPhone, a 5th generation 30GB Video iPod, and a new 32GB iPhone 3GS... OK, and a Newton 120, which is responsible for my switch from PC's to Macs back in the mid '90's. You get the idea.

Dismiss what I'm about to say at your peril, however: Musicians, artists and writers will never, ever approach their quests the same anymore forever. Just what I can see for myself: I will have a composition sketchpad with me wherever I go, which will actually be a partial circular evolution for me, as I return to the intuitive nature of composition I used to use with pencil and paper. Only now, the pencil will be replaced with touch, and the sketches will be exported as MIDI files (Or, one of several other formats), and I'll be able to audition the audio as I work. Just as soon as somebody writes the app, of course, but it'll happen (I'd be happy to consult on such a project, BTW, hint, hint). This will be a step up from the keyboard-and-trackball method I currently use with my desktops, and the keyboard and touchpad approach I use with my notebooks. Plus, there are lots of times when I don't want to lug around either my 17" machine, or its 15" older sibling. The 1024x768 screen on the iPad is only 9.7" and weighs a mere pound and a half. I'll carry that around almost as much as my iPhone!

Another thing: I'll always have a digital recording studio with me now, and I'll be able to record all of my live performances, and select the best tracks for demos and CD's. With my MESA/Boogie 20/20 rig, I'll have the slave outs to go direct into the iPad, and I'm sure an iOS version of Garage Band is on the way (Along with the other iLife apps). So, there won't be any audience noise, there won't be any ambient noise, it will be exactly like being in a professional recording studio... live. Every time I perform. For a guy who started out on TASCAM four-track tape machines back in the 70's, that's incredible. With the amount of memory getting up to 64GB in the iPad, this will not only be possible, it'll be easy. 64GB is more storage than any of my Mac HD's give me, with the exception of my G5's 150GB model.

I have to chuckle at some of the pundits who seem, "underwhelmed" by the iPad, because I bought the original 8GB iPhone back in '07 the morning it became available to order. It cost me $499 - the same as the entry-level 16GB WiFi-only iPad - and there was no app store, there were no productivity suites, there were no eReader books for it; it was nothing but a phone with Mac Mail, Safari, and an iPod. It was also on the slow EDGE network: 3G wasn't even an option. Dude, that's less than three years ago. Imagine what kind of apps will appear for the iPad within the next three years! Seriously, nobody has any idea what the iPad will become, I just know that it's going to be insanely cool.

So, I followed all of the live blogging yesterday - most of the sites crashed from all the traffic - and I watched the video as soon as Apple put it up. Yeah, it was touted as a consumer media device, but it was also obviously announced ASAP because the lid was coming off of the thing: It was probably only about 85-90% of what Jobs wanted it to be in yesterday's demo.

The iPad is going to get music and art apps that will blow us all away, so I'm ordering a 64GB WiFi-only model the morning they become available (I have an iPhone 3GS, so I don't need another 3G device). I put myself on the email alert list as soon as Apple had the link up.

The only thing cooler than an iPad is a beautiful redhead... but you knew I was going to say that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, though. No Flash support? Again?

On the iPhone this was an inconvenience. But it was a phone after all.

But this is supposed to be an actual web device. Without flash it is crippled in that function.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

I felt the same way when Flash didn't appear on the iPhone, but after thinking about it for a while - and doing a bit of research - I decided that not having Flash on a mobile web device is a feature, and not a bug.

Here's why: Mobile processors are low-power, energy-sipping, and slower than their desktop cousins. The graphics processing is also lower in performance than desktop video cards. In fact, both computing and video rendering is done on the same piece of silicon in mobile devices today.

Given this, you ought to ask yourself what the most computationally and graphics intensive parts of dynamic web pages are: Hands down, Flash is the biggest computer cycle and video processor hog. Nothing else on a web page even comes close.

So, the next question would be, is the added content displayed by Flash worth all those computer and video cycles? Jobs obviously says no, but why?

Because the HTML5 standard will do all of that without a computer-hogging Flash plugin, and that's the way he's decided to go.

Do you really think it was an accident that Jobs showed a missing Flash plugin icon in his demo? He's aq brilliant guy and could have easily avoided it if he wanted, but he obviously didn't care, or he did it intentionally.

Jobs wants to kill Flash, and at this point I think he's big enough to do it. And, from my perspective, good riddance. Flash is an inefficient stop-gap standard, and in a few years it will be on the web 2.0 scrap heap.

Do you remember Post Script? I used to need it for everything I did with music notation, but now I never ever need it. Same thing is in the process of happening to Flash.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous gp_fromOZ said...

Seriously though, a $150 Netbook dual core will do a hell of a lot more than this overpriced item, including having a hard drive of any size you want, Linux or Windows operating systems, multi-tasking, flash so you can see ALL the web sites that run it without having a "broken" icon constantly bugging you and physically around the same size and weight. I'm not picking on you just suggest you take a breath first before jumping in with both feet. I realize you are a fanboi which is fine and post on BH which is where I saw your link however there is one thing I agree whole-heartedly with you, there is nothing better on this earth than a beautiful female redhead - NOTHING :)

9:23 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

HD's are going the way of the dodo too. In fact, ALL moving parts in computers are, including DVD and BluRay drives. That era is ending, and I'm glad.

Every computer I've ever had has died because of an HD failure eventually, except for my original 8GB iPhone: I dropped it a couple of times and the screen developed a dead spot. That's OK/My bad.

In ten years time, no computers will have any moving parts in them at all, just like the MacBook Air with the SSD and the iPhone and iPad. Yeah, you pay a premium for that now, but I remember back to 1983, when a 5MB 8" Winchester HD cost $4,500!!!

Not to mention that the EXPERIENCE of interacting with an iPad will simply blow any netbook or notebook away.

I'm an end user, not a computer jockey. I am only interested in computers for how they can improve my pursuit of music. So, the less I have to learn about them to use them, the better. I don't CARE about Flash, I don't CARE about UNIX, I don't CARE about multi-tasking; I'm not curious AT ALL about any of that. If I never ever see a command line again for the rest of my life, it will be nothing but good news.

The iPad is for people like me. Artists who just want the technology to get the hell out of the way so we can use it to create stuff.

5:41 AM  

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