In a previous article for SharpBrains, I asked whether the Apple tablet (the iPad) would hinder or support cognitive fitness. Here, I assess the iPad against the criteria I laid out previously. I then assess its potential for brain fitness in general. I am relying on Apple’s information; I have not yet used the iPad.
The iPad has been covered all over the net, and Apple has much information on its website, so I will not repeat that here, except to say that the iPad looks like a 9.7 inch iPod with a multi-touch LED-backlit IPS screen. It can run all iPod applications and more. It is a rather spectacular, attractive platform for doing all of what you can do with an iPod but with compelling possibilities that a larger screen presents. It is also an eBook reader and an extremely impressive gaming machine. It is priced very competitively ($500 and up). I imagine that many people will forgo purchasing an iPod, a game station, a netbook and an e-reader and apply their savings to this device.
The iPad itself, and as part of a technological ecosystem of products that work together, is something which has major implications for the brain fitness market.
The following table summarizes the check-list from my previous article.
Table 1 iPad Evaluation Check-List
|Powerful personal task-manager
||No (but within reach of Apple)
|Integrated self-testing system
||No (third-party can do part of this).
|Major Cognitive Features
|System integration and syncing
||Yes (for what is provided, annotations not yet supported)
|Rich annotation framework
||No (but it is within reach of Apple)
||Some (annotations not supported)
|Mute function (Attention Protection)
||Close (iPad is attention-friendly)
|Affordable, rated content
||Major publishers are on board; book prices currently high; intelligent quality rating system not announced
1. Applications Checklist
Apple has enabled much of what is needed for the iPad to meet the application criteria I laid out. The iPad is not just an e-reader, it is an application platform for cognitive productivity, brain fitness and learning. It will run all existing (140,000 and counting) iPod applications. Some of the applications I called for are already on the Apple App Store, though they will require (forthcoming) enhancements.
I previously noted the need for a task manager, a graphic organizer, an outliner, and a spaced learning system. These applications will not be pre-installed on the iPad. However, many vendors have already announced that their Mac OS X cognitive productivity applications (including graphic organizers, outliners and task managers) are being ported to the iPad. So, we can tick those criteria off.
Apple has developed specifically for the iPad inexpensive iWorks productivity applications for composing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This is implicit support for active learning on the iPad. In addition, Apple’s existing iPod applications are also available for the iPad.
I was puzzled by the absence of a dictionary on the iPad home page. Users should not have to research and download dictionaries themselves, particularly since a useful dictionary is available on OS X (its ecosystem relative).
2. User Monitoring
I expressed the need for a user activity monitor, which was not provided. What I mean here is that the Apple should include operating system, MobileMe and application support for monitoring and reporting on how the user is spending their time across the Apple ecosystem. This support Read the rest of this entry »