Friday, January 29, 2010

The iPad, and Sketching User Experiences

There's been a lot of discussion about the iPad among the design team at Clearspring – who will get one, the features we like, how we can trick the powers that be to get one for us (kidding, Hooman!) My partner in crime Jeff Wong wrote a blog post about his reactions to the iPad, and I'll probably write something more later, however I came across a link this morning that I thought I'd mention.

As an interface designer, one of the applications that immediately came to mind was collaborative sketching and wireframing, which would suggest something like a stylus. Steve Jobs mentioned this in his speech ("oh hell no", or somesuch) but most folks figured a third party would come up with one anyway. Yesterday, PC Magazine posted an article about Pogo releasing a stylus, with speculation that another would be quickly forthcoming specifically for the ipad.

So we shall see; there's the obvious issue of how easy it is to lose a stylus, although if I can keep track of my pen and my socks, I suspect the problem is surmountable.  I'd probably just clip it to Apple's nifty multipurpose iPad Case (scroll down that page, it's towards the bottom.)

[Ed. As an aside, check out the little thumbnails of this jacket-case: Apple hasn't said much about this accessory, but note how this case doubles as a viewing stand, and typing stand, addressing one of the usability issues brought up about how it would be hard to type on the iPad when the back is beveled and it is sitting on a hard flat surface. Another point for Apple: solving problems with elegant simplicity. I just hope it can stand up to everyday use... better buy two.]

So, would you use a stylus? Will you buy one of these? Wait for second generation? What feature or accessory is on your wishlist?


  1. I myself am looking for a cheap alternative to buying sketchbooks as well as an alternative to purchasing a modbook. What would be good in the long run?

  2. I think for artists, it'll do in a pinch for sketching, but it's far from ideal. To get a good experience, you really need resistive feedback. Otherwise your line weights are deader than a doornail. The absolute best digital drawing tool I've ever used is the Cintiq, but its tech is pen only, and doesn't work well for all the other potential tablet uses. There might be some hope on the horizon with this tech: but it'll probably be a while before we see it on the iPad.

  3. @joel well, I'm not sure if it would be cheaper in the long run, but you could always paint your wall as a whiteboard:

    @ghostcat, I agree, it might be handy now and then but won't likely replace my sketchbook and a ballpoint. Thanks for the tips!

  4. ...wait for the second gen. This is an epic fail. If Apple wasn't so tight lipped during the development of this they wouldn't of missed on people's needs.

    Remember that one of the greatest selling points and technological revolutions of the iphone was the custom apps; a product that was developed by the open community when they were jailbroken... otherwise, it would of been just another phone with a completely closed platform that can only do what the manufacturer decides they want you to do with it.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Julio. I'm not convinced that the iPad is going to be quite so epic a fail, so to speak.

    I suspect that the iPad and the iPhone have something in common: Apple sensed their potential without knowing where and how far that potential could be taken.

    Personally, I think what the iPad will *be*, whether first or second gen, won't be nearly as interesting as what clever and creative people will dream up to *do* with it.

    Here's an example: I asked several people around the office what feature or functionality would make the iPad something they had to have. Everyone had a different answer- books, surfing, even as a huge universal remote!

    I think that those developing apps will discover people's specific needs; Apple just needed to discover an opening – an opportunity – in people's everyday physical interactions that could be expanded upon. For what it's worth, I also think the Kindle kicked the door down, and the iPad will benefit from walking through it.

    Either way, it will be exciting to watch the process unfold.


  6. “hey guys, there’s been some talk on here about myPadMedia and I thought I’d give it a review after getting my iPad.

    I’ve been able to download all the Harry Potter books, the entire Twilight Series, some David Balducci books, and even the comic book of that new movie ‘Kick-Ass’.

    You can try it for yourself at –

    Who else is a member?“