Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.



Happy Birthday iPad! First Impressions from 2010

A lot of people still remember the hype train and rumors flying left and right leading up to the announcement of the iPhone—the “Jesus phone” as some wags liked to call it. I too was very excited about the iPhone.

But not as excited as I was about the iPad.

The iPad was hardly the first tablet to get my heart racing. In the tumultuous period of the very early 2000s, Be had been attempting to pivot from marketing a PC OS to rival Windows and instead service the theoretical market of “internet appliances” — even naming their updated OS BeIA. BeIA was intended to run on a variety of form factors, some looking rather iMac (G3) inspired, but one looking essentially like an iPad with a few extra buttons (and an antenna!):

BeIA Tablet prototype

You can see a fascinating early look at various BeIA prototypes in this YouTube video.

At the dawn of the millennium I had been a huge BeOS nerd, so you can imagine my excitement at the thought of a touchscreen, wireless, internet-capable tablet running a variant of BeOS. I simply couldn’t wait to get my hands on one once Be’s hardware partners started shipping production models.

And then Be folded and the BeIA dream died. For roughly ten years—ten!—I remained lost in the wilderness. (Not really though, because I quickly dived headfirst into shiny new Mac OS X waters…kicking off my love affair with #Apple with the gorgeous Titanium PowerBook G4. The rest is history…)

So when the rumors started making the rounds that Apple was working a tablet of its own later that decade, I was quite intrigued. Of course in those early days, most people assumed a tablet would run a touch-and/or-stylus-enabled flavor of Mac OS X, and we all saw plenty of third-party mockups of a “Mac tablet” to whet our appetites.

Then the #iPhone landed, and suddenly the narrative began to shift. What if…just bear with me here…what if an Apple tablet wasn’t running a stripped-down version of Mac OS X, but a beefed-up version of iPhoneOS? Using all of the touchscreen awesomeness of the iPhone experience?

And as we know now, that’s exactly what happened. And my body was ready for it. (We later came to learn that Apple actually started development of the iPad first and ended up deciding to bring multitouch technology to market in the phone form factor initially with the intention of circling back around to tackle the tablet project.)

I was so incredibly excited about the upcoming launch of Apple’s first tablet computer, I started a (short-lived) blog called iPad Artistry, featured in the above link. Here’s a live report with a few photos of folks lined up at my local Apple Store at the time.

Once I had gotten my hands on an iPad, I quickly put it through its paces and—despite many obvious limitations—fell in love with the experience. It was only a year later when I embarked on a journey to revamp my “personal brand” and website development agency around “tablet-first computing”. I ended up building a whole new CMS and website hosting platform from the ground up which launched in late 2012. I would spend the next couple of years trying to reach product/market fit and unfortunately never did so. Mariposta was certainly an interesting product, but ultimately doomed to failure because the web never embraced “tablet-first computing” and instead went for the ultimately superior concept of “responsive design” — aka websites should look and function well on a wide variety of devices and form factors, scaling up and down as needed. (Apps too eventually went the responsive design route, and the dream of tablet-first app design and product marketing died a slow and painful death.)

So here we are in 2023, and while in some ways I’m disappointed the tablet ended up having far less of an impact on media and computing than I’d originally hoped (the laptop PC and the smartphone remain the canonical computing platforms for most people around the world), I nevertheless am extremely happy with my #iPadPro and use it every day to get real work done. The iPad is a fun product, a joyful product, and that I’m able to earn a living using it as a trusty companion to my desktop Mac is a noble conclusion to this story.

I still hold out hope that tablets will eventually mature into the “everyday computer” for the masses—more capable, powerful, and usable than a phone…more versatile and nimble than laptops featuring a far greater number of potential use cases and ideal scenarios. Certainly it’s true my children use iPads all the time, and tablets are every bit as central to their lifestyle as any PC-style device.

In summary, Happy 13th Birthday iPad! I love you and can’t wait to see what you’re capable of next.

The iPad Desktop

The one thing which has been so frustrating lately about iPadOS isn’t how far away the “pro” experience of #Apple #iPadPro is from what you get with a Mac. It’s how close it is. Tantalizingly close. You plug a modern iPad into a display, keyboard, and mouse, and if you squint a bunch and don’t try to accomplish too much all at once, you can kinda sorta see a powerful desktop OS at work. The “death by a thousand paper cuts” is what makes this experience so frustrating.

The word on the street (aka Mark Gurman’s latest reporting) is that Apple will be rolling out an advanced set of multitasking features for iPadOS at #WWDC, including an interface which will “let users resize app windows and offer new ways for users to handle multiple apps at once.” No mention of proper external display support, but it feels like that must be a given if you have a new windowing system.

Look, I’m not trying to replace my Mac. I love my Mac. The M1 Mac mini is an impressive desktop at an affordable price. However, I also want to be able to “KVM switch” myself over to an iPad desktop and enjoy everything about that experience as well. Because there are some tasks I really do prefer to perform in iPadOS vs. macOS. Why can’t I have my cake and eat it too? Hopefully Apple will soon have an affirmative answer to that question when it comes to the iPad.

I posted this as a comment on a Snazzy Labs video but wanted to share it here as well:

Even in its nascent state, Universal Control changes everything. Suddenly iPadOS becomes a true extension of #macOS…like many power users I’ve run an #iPadPro on a stand next to my desktop Mac for years, but ergonomically-speaking, switching between the two was a major pain. It became incrementally easier with the Magic Keyboard/Trackpad, but issues remained…not the least of which is transferring files and even bits of in-context data back and forth doesn’t always feel natural and smooth.

With Universal Control, you start to forget you’re running two different devices running two different environments…suddenly you’re just using “AppleOS” everywhere. Heck, I’ve even gone from desktop Mac (M1 Mac mini) to laptop (Intel MBP) as well when I need to do something on one from the other. And yes, you can span all three with nearly zero lag or fiddling—even when using drag ‘n’ drop!

This is without a doubt the biggest quality-of-life improvement #Apple has brought to its ecosystem since cursor support on iPadOS first appeared almost two years ago.

Apple hid an AR Easter egg in its September event announcement

This is really fun! (Click the Easter Egg link in the article while on your iPhone/iPad.)

Putting on my speculation cap, here’s what I’m hoping to see on the 9/15 #Apple event:

  • #iPadPro inspired #iPhone 12 (duh)
  • Cheap iPad but with new Pro styling
  • “AirPhones”
  • More affordable Watch options
  • Teaser (or beyond!) of first Apple Silicon #Mac
  • A new app surprise of some kind (Terminal for iPadOS? 😎)
    • (Honestly Logic and/or MainStage for iPadOS would be pretty sweet. FPC X would be a stretch, but a man can dream…)

Things I’m most excited for at #Apple #WWDC 2019:

  • #iOS “Pro” for #iPadPro
  • New Safari/WebKit features across all platforms #openweb
  • UIKit on the Mac (aka “Marzipan”) #macOS
  • iOS Dark Mode
  • Mac Pro hardware teaser
  • Some sort of indication of future notebooks that don’t suck
  • Dedicated App Store for Watch
  • tvOS 😜

I was messing around with ZenBrush on my new iPad Pro and this emerged. I apologize in advance to any Chinese calligraphy experts out there…I have no idea what I’m doing! This is supposed to say “Serenity.” Hopefully I didn’t botch it completely. Anyway, ZenBrush is an amazing app. (This is straight out of the device—it’s not actually a canvas hanging up in an art gallery! 😲) #iPadPro #creativity

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