Oh yes, it’s here party people. Apple released their iPad on Saturday, so I picked one up to toss around and see if it stacks up to all the hype. Personally, it tastes awful, but when you hit the little button on the front the screen lights up and makes you wonder if it will stick to your belly on a hot summer day.

After that, you’ll wonder what it can do. You caught a glimpse with the Sketchbook Pro news last Thursday and an obnoxious amount of coverage and reviews online. We’ll get in on that as well, but what we’re wondering more than most is this. Is there any validity to it actually being a usable tool to create content?


I’m going to keep this simple for now… like the iPad, simple, not a whole lot there when you turn it on. In fact, if you don’t have any apps installed, you’ll be quite bored with the iPad right out of the box. That is unless all you intend to use it for is surfing the web, which is surprisingly what most people think it will be used for… and are using it for.

As it turns out, there’s a lot more to Apple’s newest stock-bumping product. More beside the ideas and expectations it’s set in motion, and much more than the icon snobbery dished out by both the lovers and haters. It’s about content, and more specifically, about what tablet devices should be able to do and what they should be scorned and beaten for not doing.

Some may expect to use the iPad in the same way as a laptop or netbook computer. Files, folders, open, open, open, close, close, close, save, print, file… it’s not that. However, it can be. That’s what’s interesting about the device. At the same time, it’s an escape from dronish desktop computing and a return from mobile entertainment to desktop style applications that are actually useful for creating content.

Now, for product development, you won’t find much at the moment that makes the design process any easier or even addresses all the aspects that go into it. What is there, are a few apps that allow you to move files around (GoodReader), sketch out ideas (Sketchbook Pro), lay out diagrams (omnigraffle), and view some models (NaviCAD (iTunes link)). Yeah, that’s about it in that department. Pretty measly compared to what you can do on a laptop or netbook for the same price. However, it’s the few available apps that creates a huge potential for what can be done in this space.

So, is there any validity to the iPad actually being a usable tool to create content? There is, but it does matter what content you’re creating… for the moment. Since the iPad is the first tablet to hit the market this year (HP Slate and Microsoft Courier, among others, coming soon), the apps that start here could have a larger impact on what shapes product development apps as more tablets join the scene. Some call me foolish for thinking an iPad (or tablet) could replace a device like a Wacom. I think it’s foolish to think it couldn’t.

The final thought. If you think or hear someone say, “I can’t do that with an iPad.” Whether it’s a program or accessory, it just might be a very good idea to pursue developing it.

Update!
Check this out! So weird, at nearly the exact same time, Lou Gallo posted his thoughts, on the exact same topic. iCAD: What Touch Could Bring To Product Development

and…

Oleg Shilovistsky’s take!… Who Can Generate 3D/PLM Content For Apple iPad?

Author

Josh is co-founder of EvD Media. He engineers and designs, is the Director of Marketing for Luxion, is CSWP certified for SolidWorks training and support and excels at falling awkwardly. He is editor of SolidSmack.com and co-host of EngineerVsDesigner.com, a weekly podcast about design, engineering and what makes it all happen.