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Name That iPad

There is much discussion lately about what a new, smaller form factor iPad might be called. Names that have been mentioned as possibilities include iPad Nano, iPad Mini and iPad Junior. Okay, the last one is more of a joke by Dan Benjamin, but he's sticking with it. I have an iPad, and I can see why some might prefer a smaller, lighter form factor. I think that if Apple does in fact release this device, it will sell very well (especially if they hit the purported $199 - $249 price point). I don't, however, think that any of the above names will end up being the one assigned to the device at launch.

Past Precedent

What the above names have in common is that they are rooted in Apple's past naming schemes. The smaller iPod models got "Shuffle" and "Nano" appended to their base "iPod" name. The iPod remained the "iPod" for several cycles, and then became the "iPod Classic." There was also the iPod "Touch," which serves as the iPhone, without the phone, media player niche. "Mini" comes up in the "Mac Mini" product, and speaks to the devices tiny footprint. "Express" could even be mentioned from past naming, as the smaller AirPort product uses this to separate itself from the larger, slightly different in function, AirPort Extreme.

Why None Of This Matters

Apple is making a shift in its mobile product naming. What is different about all of the above examples and the possible new smaller 7" - 8" is simple. Each of those was a new product launch in a product "family", but not simply a shrunken version of the existing product. The iPod variants each had their own personality and filled a unique position in the market. The Mac Mini was a category almost all its own.

It is my belief that the move to calling the (3rd generation) iPad just "iPad" was with future plans in mind. If they called it the iPad3, then that would significantly limit their options with another smaller device in the lineup. iPad4 or 3S (for small) wouldn't make sense. Ipad4 would make it seem iterative when the product may actually have less advanced hardware than the 3rd generation iPad. The "S" in iPhone product names has typically been understood by most to stand for "speed", not "small."

The iPad

I believe that a smaller iPad would simply be launched as "the iPad." Yes, I know that is the same exact name of the larger device that recently launched with a retina screen. It is also the name of the original device that launched a couple of years ago. I think Apple is taking a page from other product lines that have the same device, but in multiple size/spec configurations. The iMac has two sizes, yet share the same name. Same with the MacBook and MacBook Air lines. While it makes it a bit more difficult for writers and reviewers to specify which device they are discussing, that really isn't Apple's concern. When a consumer tells their friends they purchased an iPad, and the question of "which one" is asked, they'll simply say, "the smaller one" or "the bigger one."

For what it's worth, I also believe that the next iPhone will simply be called "the iPhone" for similar reasons. At one point, the race towards the next device launch was iterative, and the naming took that into account. Now, it is just a natural transition like new versions of the next luxury vehicle in a line. People use a descriptor which is not part of the make/model name, like the year, or 2-door/4-door to specify which version they have. It works just fine, so why would the company that is always advertising "simplicity," complicate it?

iPad Writing Workflow

I've been reading a lot about workflows and ways to be a creator with the iPad, vs. just a consumer of content. Below is the writing workflow I have started using. I thought it could be helpful to others, since there is no shortage of apps and tips out there.

Requirements

I had a few requirements that apps I evaluated needed to satisfy. I write in Markdown, so I needed the app, where I will do my composition, to support both Markdown syntax and Markdown preview. A keyboard with Markdown shortcuts was not a requirement, but was a "nice to have" addition. Export options needed to include both plain text and HTML. Dropbox sync was also a must. Brett Terpstra has put together a truly awesome iOS text editor comparison chart, located here. You can click on the features across the top and it will dim the apps that don't meet that requirement. I work from a few different machines/devices, so Markdown/plain text composition allows me to work with the files no matter what OS I'm dealing with at the time.

T&C runs on Squarespace, which has great iOS and Android apps for publishing. The app's post composer recognizes Markdown natively, but I prefer to write and preview elsewhere, and let the Squarespace app handle the publishing step.

Apps

  • Reeder
  • Instapaper
  • WriteUp
  • Squarespace

I read RSS feeds through Reeder, sometimes saving longer reads in Instapaper. If I'm creating a link post, these two apps are integral to consuming the info, which I then add my thoughts to via T&C.

WriteUp is an app that met all of my text composition needs on the iPad. I use Byword on the Mac, and they also offer an iOS app, but I find WriteUp to be perfect for my needs so far. It has Markdown keyboard shortcuts, which are really nice to have. I write, proof and preview the post in WriteUp. This syncs to Dropbox for long term storage of the plain text. When the post is complete, WriteUp exports the plain text to the clipboard and I paste it into the composition window in the Squarespace app. I'm able to tweak post settings, add tags and finally, publish.

That's pretty much it.

A Little iEnvy

I <3 Android

I really do enjoy Android as a mobile OS. Android offers a world of choice and customization that is painful to implement (at best) on the iOS platform. I started my affair with Android almost two years ago with the Nexus One, and have recently upgraded to a Nexus S. I had an iPod Touch (2nd Gen) when I used a BlackBerry Bold as my phone, but have since gone to just my Android phone and gave the Touch to my son. I am running Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) on my Nexus S, and think that it is a great upgrade from Gingerbread. I also picked up a HP TouchPad during the "fire sale" and have it running ICS as well. ICS made that $150 tablet feel as nice to me as my wife's 1st generation iPad.

I respect iOS

I enjoyed iOS when I used it on the iPod Touch and when I borrow my wife's iPad. The app ecosystem that Apple offers is truly unmatched. Not only are the apps on iOS more plentiful for the types of use cases I am concerned with, but they are certainly more beautiful as well. Reeder on the iPad is probably the app I miss most when using my Android tablet, but there are several examples on the phone. I should mention here that I run an iMac as my primary home computer and am in no way an exclusive "fanboy" for any one company or platform. I use what I feel best fits my situation and my preferences. Several factors can play into those criteria. Cost (I wouldn't have an iPad of my own if I hadn't gotten the TouchPad for such a steal), workplace restrictions (I am not able to place my work issues SIM card into an iPhone due to carrier billing differences) and variety all play into my choices. My wife uses an iPhone 4 and the 1st generation iPad, so anytime I'd like to play around with a new app or sync my Jawbone UP band, I borrow her devices.

My Current iEnvy

My current "iEnvy" is fueled by two primary factors. First, my wife never worries about her phone's battery life. I constantly worry about mine. This is the same case with our tablets, however, I don't use my TouchPad nearly as much as I do my phone. Battery life should be Android's number one focus with it's next Nexus device and future operating system decisions. I haven't talked to any Android lovers who are not taking steps to conserve battery life with apps like Tasker or JuiceDefender. My wife is not as heavy a user of her phone as I am, but she leaves Wifi on always, and her screen timeout is set to some ridiculous value on the high end. I'd have to actually carry an iPhone 4 or 4S for a few days to know if I would be in a better position with it vs. my Nexus S, but I'm 99% sure that I would be based on talking to others that use those devices.

The second driver of my iEnvy is that both the iPhone and iPad now sport Retina displays. Simply put, no one has better mobile device displays than Apple. I read a lot of text on my phone and tablet and know just from helping my wife with things on her iPhone 4 that the experience of a Retina display is unmatched to anything else. I'm in a position now where I question whether I need to have two Android mobile devices, or if I would be getting the best of both worlds by having either an iPhone and my TouchPad or my Nexus S and an iPad. This brings back the criteria limitations I brought up above, but I'm working to determine if either move would be feasible. I think it would change my use patterns a bit. I'd read less on my phone and more on my tablet if I had an iPad. I'd still enjoy the customization and freedom that comes with Android on my more heavily used device... but I'd still have shitty battery life.

Envy is a Deadly Sin

I'm not really thinking along the lines of Ten Commandments... but more the "geek law" variety. So many people are in one camp or the other when it comes to Android vs. iOS (both hardware and software). I find myself looking over the fence and saying, "I should really tear down this fence and eat any colored grass I like."