Thoughts around the iPad 2, and touch-based interfaces

I just finished reading “Apple iPad 2 is here and tablet rivals need to hit the drawing board”, Andy Ihnatko’s article on the iPad 2.

One sentence really resonated with me, because I think Apple’s very busy right now getting the world used to the next generation of computer interfaces (lots of OS X Lion’s upcoming interface is borrowed straight from iOS):

I hate editing video, but this app intuitively felt better and easier than even the desktop edition of iMovie.

Within a year or so, probably right around the time the iPad doubles in resolution, I bet at least one smaller, high-end Apple laptop (ultra-high-res touchscreen tech most likely won’t have hit 15″ or 17″ yet), or maybe a MacBook Air model, will have a touchscreen as well as a keyboard. Typing on a physical keyboard is just plain faster, at least so far, but the trackpad might go away fairly soon.

And within a year or two after that, I bet Apple’s desktop displays will be touchscreens, too. In the nearer term, they’re placing increasing emphasis on multi-touch trackpad gestures—in addition to being really efficient, it’s no accident they’re trying to get users comfortable performing more operations with touch and direct manipulation.

And probably before any of that, we’ll start seeing people using iPads as “controllers” for their desktop computers. I can’t imagine software developers haven’t been thinking about “tethered apps” already. Think of an application running on your computer’s big screen(s), and interacting with that with the companion software running on your iPad. Some things just work better with direct manipulation, and some finer operations still work better with a graphic tablet or a mouse; why settle for one or the other?

The other fun bit was on the perception of build quality, even compared to the only other decent (and more expensive) tablet on the market:

But you kind of have to hold the iPad 2 to really get the redesign. It’s thinner by a third, plus its edges taper to a thin line of metal. It’s almost inconceivable that this thing you’re holding is a multicore tablet computer. The Xoom tablet is trim, light, and very pretty … but when you place it next to the iPad 2, it looks as though it was designed and built by angry Soviet prison labor instead of by Motorola.