The announcement of the Apple iPad is among the week’s biggest news, practically overshadowing the President’s State of the Union Address and even the death of recluse author J.D. Salinger. Tech pundits are divided whether this is a “game changer” moment for technology, or if it could be a flop for Apple.
Right now, I’m personally thinking about what it means for apps. The iPad, which is being kindly and not so kindly compared to an oversized iPod Touch, will run apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the question is whether app developers will actually think of the iPad moving forward. As any early adopter who bought a 42-inch plasma TV back in 1997 will tell you, bigger didn’t always mean better. Those big screen TVs needed companion technology (HDTV) to make it good.
So this brings us to the apps. The screen is bigger, and it has a reasonable high-resolution display. But at 1,024×768 it falls into the enhanced definition category, not high definition. This means it will look very good, but even with an external connection to a TV (which will be available from Apple), you aren’t going to get the best picture, notably on a larger HDTV. This is important not only for entertainment, but could limit the presentation value as well.
The other issue is that the iPad utilizes a 4×3 aspect ratio, essentially the same as old pre-HDTV sets. The question to be asked is why? Would it really have been that difficult to create a 16×9 HDTV aspect ratio screen or even the 16×10 inch screen that we find in most laptops. If this tablet is meant to be a replacement for laptops, shouldn’t it offer the same screen size as most currently available laptops?
I will mention that Apple has never really understood the game market, which is really big business today. Sony and Microsoft look very carefully at this market, and Apple has always sort of ignored it. This changed a bit with the iPhone, as game developers saw a new market. Because the phone utilizes a gyroscopic-type interface, this meant you could turn the device for flight and driving games, offering a neat little distraction. Just seeing the same games demoed on the iPad on TV was enough to cause this reporter (who has covered the video game industry for nearly 20 years) a bit of motion sickness. The large screen size just doesn’t deliver these after-hours app experience the same way as the smaller screen.
Personally, I hope that the iPad gets its own apps. I think it will need its own apps to stand out and be more than just an oversized iPod Touch.
USAA Expands Check Deposits
Last summer, USAA was among the first banks to let consumer deposit checks via an iPhone app, and now customers using the Android platform will be able to do the same. As with the iPhone version, users will be able to snap a picture of the front and back of a check and essentially make a virtual deposit – you didn’t think you actually inserted the check into the handset did you? This app, which is designed for use with the 1.6 or new versions of the Android OS, will also allow customers to manage bank accounts, find ATMs, get a proof of auto insurance mailed to them, and even manage investments with the ability to buy and sell stocks.