Oh, how far we’ve come.
As we progress into the second decade of the 21st century, it’s becoming increasingly
obvious how the computers of the previous 30 years have begun to look not just old but archaic.
The massive CRT monitors of the 1980s and 1990s have given way to pencil-thin displays of the
2000s. The PC’s bulky and heavy beige box has been reduced to the size of a thick paperback, as
with Apple’s Mac Mini, or has even been assimilated into the display itself, as with Apple’s iMac.
This shrinking of the PC has also coincided with the computer becoming thousands of times
more powerful—progress that shows no sign of abating. But although the miniaturizing and the
explosive growth in processing power are technological accomplishments that are nothing to
scoff at, the iPad signals the beginning of a new era in technology—the era of the touch-based
When you hold the iPad 2, you hold the future in your hands. Its gesture-based controls have
broken open the computer’s digital/physical barrier. With the iPad 2, you can touch your movies,
e-mail, and digital pictures; you can carry 10,000 books without increasing the weight in your bag;
and you can flip through their pages with the swipe of your finger. Even the Web, something that
has long been confined to a rigid desktop venue, becomes something akin to the magazine on
your coffee table, yet with an infinite number of pages.
When the first iPad was originally introduced, some said it was nothing more than a big
iPhone. Indeed, the iPhone introduced the world to the Multi-Touch interface, and both devices
do use the same operating system called iOS. However, as you’ll see, there are many minor and
quite a few major differences. Using the iPad, your eyes are immediately enveloped by its large
display; there’s no squinting when you play games, navigate maps, and watch videos—all from
your lap. Its full-size keyboard allows you to comfortably create documents, spreadsheets, and
presentations with applications that rival those you find on older, traditional computers. No, the
iPad isn’t an over-grown iPhone; it’s an evolution of the personal computer. The iPad 2 further
defines the future of computers, making the device not just for consumption of media, but for its
creation. Apple has added front- and rear-facing cameras for FaceTime video chatting and highdefinition
video recording. It’s now possible to not only listen to music, but create your own
using the optional GarageBand software. Even video editing right on your touch screen is now a
reality with Apple’s iMovie for iPad.