This is a Computer

This is a Computer

When the girl on the grass with an iPad Pro asked “What’s a computer” Apple invited ridicule. To this day a dopey idea from a marketing meeting somewhere in Cupertino lingers in our minds and encourages us to reduce the iPad Pro to that tablet that contradicts every principle Apple has ever held.

It has a stylus, but “nobody wants a stylus.” It has an attachable keyboard like a toaster fridge. And after an extended period of time “your arm wants to fall off.”

Yet still, even with the release of the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard with a trackpad — an accessory that drastically improves how the iPad feels on your lap — Apple insist on their messaging that: “your next computer is not a computer.”

Across the tech blogging sphere, on YouTube and in podcasts, more people have asked if the iPad is a computer than have asked when we’re going to be allowed outside again.

So I wonder: Is it even possible to write something new?

Probably not. But it doesn’t matter.

When the Apple Watch was announced it was sold as an accurate timekeeping device and a fashion accessory. Apple sold a functionally identical Edition model for nearly £20,000. It no longer exists.

The watch had a dedicated button to show you frequent contacts so you could quickly send them a drawing or a heartbeat. It no longer exists.

Most people used the watch as a health device, so they are the features Apple built: new workouts, mindfulness features, ECG hardware, and later this year: sleep tracking.

Even the iPhone’s original pitch — a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communicator — has no mention of the primary reason people buy new phones today: photography.

The iPad was originally launched on stage by Steve Jobs in an armchair. It was a consumption device. Sit back, and take in.

But at scale, that isn’t how people used iPad. Today, for many, it is a primary computing device.

Users find ways to make what they want out of their technology. When people began creating on iPad, the iPad adapted and its accessory lineup grew.

Yet the original principle of a low cost consumption device still stands. You can buy an iPad for £349 and use it for Netflix. Or you can spend hundreds of pounds on accessories and install Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Or you can stick to your laptop.

Because it doesn’t matter what the iPad is, or even what it can or cannot do. We will pick the device we are comfortable with, the devices we enjoy.

We pick the food we like the taste of, the soap that helps our skin, the music that calms us down.

We choose the device that helps us get things done, however intense our things are.

The beauty of the iPad is not how it exists, but that every year it exists for a few more people.

Is it a computer? Who cares?

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