Monday, April 05, 2010

The Elements for iPad

Is there an iPad in my future? Possibly, but not just yet. As a user of the iPod Touch and a heavy e-book reader, I'm certainly well within Apple's target demographic, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach for now. I have pretty much constant access to a Windows notebook and a BlackBerry Storm 2 in addition to the iPod Touch, and I do most of my e-book reading with the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps on the Touch and the Storm 2 (though I also have their reader applications installed on my notebook). So I have plenty of back lit screens on which to read books - do I really need a bigger screen than the iPod Touch? The key advantage of the Touch and Blackberry is the fact that I always have these devices handy - they are easy to get out, use, and put away. Do I need another device to carry around and keep charged? Not just yet. Right now it really does seem to be just a jumbo version of the Touch. But if the right killer app comes along, who knows?

I don't think it's a killer app, but the iPad version of the book The Elements looks pretty cool based on this review (with video) on Boing Boing. The comments are interesting - some people are saying, "big deal, it's a flashy web site" while others compare it to early CD-ROM "multimedia" books (I had a few of those back in the 90's, like Microsoft's Multimedia Mozart). But a few are saying "it's the first iPad-specific multimedia book, and it's fairly impressive, but give developers a few months to see what they can do with this thing." I think that's about right. The iPad reminds me a little of the "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" in Neal Stephenson's book The Diamond Age. Of course that singing, talking, listening, 3D-displaying, fully adaptive "book" was created with futuristic nanotechnology and could do a lot more than the iPad will do any time soon. But I could imagine the iPad becoming a device more like that in future versions.

As a bonus in The Elements is a dynamically illustrated version of Tom Lehrer's song "The Elements." The Boing Boing review includes a video of it which is embedded here. Music by Arthur Sullivan (from "The Pirates of Penzance"), lyrics from the periodic table.

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