The age of tablet computing

On Friday there was an excellent article published on The Verge, relating to the 7 year anniversary of the iPad. It asked the question about how the notion of what the iPad is has changed over the past seven years. I recall myself even talking about all the hype of what the iPad is and isn’t when it launched.

Here we are, 7 years into it, and it’s become clear that the iPad started something new, but maybe not what everyone expected. One of the uses that people talked about for the iPad was as a laptop replacement. In the years since we’ve seen this evolve into the iPad Pro with its massive screen and full size keyboard. Yet, as my friend Wes will attest to, it’s not a laptop replacement, but a whole new way of creating content and working in a new connected age.

People aren’t clamoring to dump their laptops in the river to adopt tablets, but they’re finding new ways to use tablet operating systems, and their app ecosystems, to be productive in a whole new way. The iPad hasn’t so much replaced the laptop, but it has altered how we view mobile computing. You don’t need to look much further on how it has influenced the Windows world, than the Microsoft Suface hybrids. This innovative design has now become one of the defacto standard form factors for a mobile computing device. It’s even the form factor that my corporate, work laptop employs (and I love it).

The iPad has also influenced the rise of Chromebooks, and mobile-centric devices that look like laptops, but are based on an internet connected lifestyle. Many Chromebooks, in their slow merge with Android OS, have even taken on more tablet like form factors to give people the flexibility to use the device in the best way for the task that they’re doing. You need to type a long document? Not a problem, there’s a full size, comfortable keyboard. You want to use a pen to draw on the screen? No worries, you can do that to.

Behind all of that is the always-on, connected, nature of how we compute today. Everything we create on a computing device seems to be blended into an online experience, either directly, or as an add-on. I’m more likely to use Google Drive to create than a standalone app. Even for folks who still rely on dedicated apps, the entire experience has changed to be more friendly to a tablet experience.

Did the iPad completely change computing today? Not in the most direct way that many people expected. But, it did usher in a slow and constant push towards new paradigms in computing. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to my little iPad clicky-game….

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