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iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part II

May 9, 2010
by Joe Bormel, M.D.
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iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part 2: Do 11 concurrent evolutions equal one revolution? Implications of a recently released mobile tablet

Does the arrival of Apple's iPad really cause any revolutionary changes in the HCIT scene? We started down this path last week in Part I of this series. If you missed it, I urge you to read it before continuing with this post. But click on the link even if you did read Part I to review a later comment I made about who will probably find an iPad useful, and for what.

Moving forward, here in Part II we explore points five through nine of my 11 implications.

5. Life flow, a convergence of workflow, work/life balance, and maintaining one inbox: It's 2010. Most of us have email from more than one account magically appearing on our computers, our phones, and other devices. We're managing "to do" and shopping lists, and making online purchases.

Some of us, using Outlook, or other collaborative platforms, are managing comprehensive task, calendar and contact lists, stratified by all the goodies of David Allen's "Getting-Things-Done" (GTD) methodology.
 

What is GTD?GTD® is the popular shorthand for "Getting Things Done®", the groundbreaking work-life management system and book by David Allen that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. More...

One application (there are several) that implements GTD on the iPad and other platforms is called OmniFocus from OmniGroup. We all struggle with time management, notes review, and focus in general. A system that is as convenient as an iPhone, syncs to the cloud, is available concurrently on a laptop, and is well-designed has helped many people approach "stress-free productivity," without falling off of that horse too many times!

The iPad, like the iPhone, but on steroids because of its larger screen and the evolutionary supporting software, can do things we loved first about the Palm Pilot. It's a convenient, readily available, fast, integrated electronic repository. This time, however, due to wireless connectivity, better evolved enterprise apps — think shared calendars, unified communication, etc. — we can actually get to " stress-free productivity". It's a clear evolution when you have a device with no start-up time that's small enough to keep nearby . . . especially if it's concurrently doing other things for you, like replacing paper (see item 7).

6. You can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar: Many things can be fully learned and appreciated only by doing them. Classic examples include receiving advice about marriage, home ownership, and having kids. Prior to taking the plunge, mere words cannot really prepare you or adequately describe the experience. Using technology often takes on this quality.

I definitely don't want to elevate iPad use to that of a monumental, life transforming experience. That said, reading about it or hearing about the experience of others would leave most people with a simplistic notion. That notion might be that the iPad is just a big iPhone or iPod Touch. Or that it is a notebook computer replacement. Or that it's not a notebook computer replacement.

The potential of this device, like many other mobile devices, is that it can be transformative. Experience and play time are essential to evaluation. Many people are already evolving their personal time and information management with mobile devices. The iPad fits into and enables that evolution.

This section title, You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar comes from this classic book by David Sandler.

7. Big enough AND small enough to replace paper documents: Many people, me included, still print documents that could physically, emotionally and socially be read on-screen. The problem with pocketsize devices is that they are too small to practically read a printed page very well. Reformatting, manipulating, and zoom/pinch/stretching, although cool, don't really cut it.

Laptops, notebooks, sub-notebooks, tablet PCs, and netbooks are more practical for replacing paper documents. Plus, costs have come down over the last decade. The available screen sizes have made 1:1 size equivalency to 8.5 by 11-inch paper a reality. But, they've just been too clunky and unsatisfying for a lot of common situations.

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Gwen,
Thanks for the kind words. The best HCIT CEOs are all Hexagons! They understand that being productive every minute of the day (even relaxing productively) doesn't happen by accident. Triangles dont generally have the breadth of responsibility, and circles often lack the focus, self-awareness or both. Someday, someone smarter will lay this out in MBTI terms or DiSC terms such that it will be more actionable.

Regarding your humorous spell check functionality, I can see that there are multiple, well integrated dictionaries on all of my hexagonal computers. I'm often checking the meanings of words that I think I want to use, or that are being used by others. Whether the iPad or laptop, I'm into the dictionaries multiple times per day.  The best ones, of course, don't expect me to know how to spell words I need to look up!

Gwen,
Getting back to your question, "does the iPad have a spell checker?", I didn't answer the question at any length, instead talking about dictionary functionality. That's related and I'm passionate about having a good electronic dictionary nearby. (this will change but right now, Apple's eBook reader lets you point to a word and open the dictionary definition above it in a gesture. Amazon's Kindle app on the iPad currently does not. And, currently, all the books I need are only available thru the Kindle app.)

Spell checking and spelling correction are very well handled on the iPad. Like most mobile phones, the iPad will offer you word-completion while you type. This reduces typos and speeds typing simultaneously. Of course, this also means you need to watch the screen to see what's happening. For those of us who took typing in high school, this is unnatural.

More often than not, when I make a typo, it auto-corrects and I basically never see it. This became clear to me yesterday when I tried to enter a misspelled word in order to see the squiggly red underline I'm used to in Word and other places. I was testing what hidden capabilities were present in Apple's word processor called Pages. There is spell checking there (and throughout text entry fields such as this web page) it's just far less likely that you'll be able to enter a typo.

As far as adapter's adopting and adopter's adapting, the iPad does see either of those situations problematic! At least from a spelling perspective.

Thanks for your comment Doc Benjamin, and for the kind words.

Thanks also for reminding me to note that the iPad is not a laptop or PC replacement, in several important ways. For one, you must connect it to a PC sync it with iTunes. This is, in fact, the only mechanism at present, other than email to get content onto to iPad. There are Apps like Dropbox and iDisk that will allow you to bring the cloud into your iPad. They are barely integrated. Of course, all of this is in evolution (first or early release.)

There is, of course, another way to look at all of this. Maybe discouraging local file storage and direct ability to print-to-paper (also a general limitation of the iPad compared with laptops) is a good thing? Just a thought.

I think your attitude is very reasonable. There's clearly a luxury tax associated with getting a version one, and other penalties that offset the early benefits. Should any of us be angry that company's release comparatively crippled v1 products? Anger is largely a waste of energy.

I think we're kindered spirits. There's lots more evolution to follow this version one release!

Dr. Bormel,
I am so please to read that this series is not being written as just another cultural promotion for Apple. Your tie-in to HCIT in Part I hooked me to read on and anticipate the rest of the series.

Based upon your first post, I borrowed an iPad from a colleague and used it for several days. You're right in that regardless of what you read, there is no substitute for using the product.

Frankly, I found the iPad quite interesting on a professional level, since I'm far past "games" or the social aspects of the Internet. I can do, very easily, what you described in terms of our hospital's EMR. What I like best is the combination of a large screen, relatively light weight, and the long battery life. This is not to say that I'm about to recycle my work station in favor of the iPad, because its capabilities fall far short of what I can do with what I'll call an end-to-end computer system. But what it does, it does well.

I am profoundly, however, disturbed by the way this product has been marketed. Upon the release of the initial offering, Apple almost simultaneously announced that a new iteration will be released shortly that will incorporate significantly more capability. I understand that "designed obsolescence" is a fact of life in the computer industry. But this type of announcement is an insult to my intelligence. It makes me want to wait to see what Apple's competition will release over the next few quarters, rather than patronize a company that tells me from day one of a new product that very (extremely) soon there will be a new product available with far more capability. Am I wrong have such an attitude?

I do know for certain I will not buy the first version of the iPad. But I want a tablet like this in my inventory. So my final question is, should I simply buy the next generation of the iPad that comes out shortly, or would it not be too detrimental to wait several months to see what Apple's competition releases so I can do a comparison? And by the way, I have an iPhone that I purchased to replace a BlackBerry. To tell you the truth, I already prefer many of the features offered by the Droid. Perhaps I jumped too quickly. Thank you.

Doc Benjamin

Joe,

Does the iPad have a spell check function that picks up on incorrect usage of correctly spelled words? If so, I'm on my way to the Apple store. . .

Although I guess I'd also like to think I'm also an early "adapter," what I meant to say is that I've always been an early "adopter!"

G.

Joe,

I applaud you for taking the time to give us such a thorough and insightful analysis. I consider myself a technophile, and am usually an early adapter, but have taken a bit of a wait and see approach when it comes to the iPad because I needed many of questions answered that you are addressing. Thanks to your geometry lesson in Part I, I now see that I am a classic Hexagon (been called many things but never that!) and am thinking that the days of heaving my 9lb laptop thru airport security may be numbered.

I'm looking forward to Part III, and learning what conclusions you've come to as to the long term implications of the iPad's role in our ongoing digital healthcare transformation.

Thanks Dr. Joe!

G.

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Joe Bormel

Healthcare IT Consutant

Joe Bormel

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