Stanford School of Medicine is giving an iPad to all first-year medical students

The School of Medicine in August undertook a trial program for iPad use by distributing the device to 91 first-year medical and master’s of medicine students. Charles Prober, senior associate dean for medical education, noted growing challenges from the rapid flow of information, which the iPad’s mobility and graphics might manage better.

Integrated iPads as part of the education process is a larger hurdle than the cost. Kudos to Stanford for thinking forward.

The web sucks. Browsers need to innovate

The web as an application platform stinks, and I think this is even more apparent now as we see incredible iPad apps being released. Why are iPad apps, in their initial versions, so much better than websites that have existed for years?

When I started writing this post last week, it was going to declare the end of the web. I’m not quite ready to call it dead, but it’s on thin ice.

The web is great as a generic platform for consuming flat, static content, but isn’t good for anything rich

  • AJAX is just a band-aid to make a platform that is based around page refreshes feel more interactive.
  • Java and Flash are yet more band-aids to make the web feel fluid. But remember that feeling you get when you hit a page with Java on it? Gross.
  • Web applications don’t have threading, GPU acceleration, drag and drop, copy and paste of rich media, true offline access, or persistence. Are you kidding me? Gmail only recently added inline images (and it’s super buggy).
  • Web based email broke the mailto, one of the most basic commands for creating an email message.
  • Developer tools for native apps are better than web tools. XCode and Interface Builder are phenomenal. So is Visual Studio on the PC. On the web, people still use plain text editors.

People are using apps more because the experience is much better. We will see a decline in web traffic and search in the coming years

  • People use web search today because they don’t know how else to find high quality information. The web is a mess of content with no organization. On an iPhone, I launch the appropriate app.
  • When talking about iAds on April 12, Steve Jobs said, “Search is not where it’s at, people are not searching on a mobile device like they do on the desktop.” I actually think the issue here isn’t desktop vs mobile, but web vs apps.
  • Full six years ago I blogged about people’s over dependence on search. I felt Google’s search results weren’t as good as visiting the specific site with the information needed. Instead of blaming Google, I should have blamed the web as a whole.
  • Many iPad apps are simply a different view on data that is already available on a website. And every single time, the iPad app beats the web experience that has been around for years. NYTimes, Netflix, Zillow, and others.
  • To single one out, try the ABC app on iPad. Much credit to ABC, but I doubt they have the best iPad developers out there. Yet their version one application is awesome, and a much better experience than their website.
  • Thanks to better developer tools, a richer SDK, and simply higher quality standards, developers are making apps that consumers are using to interact with data in a richer way then ever before.

Browsers aren’t innovating. They are just trying to comply with standards and fix bugs and performance

  • Right now browser updates fix bugs and add application features, but can’t enhance the functionality of the web. This is only done by standards boards.
  • Browsers are forced to implement every “standard” that is agreed on, even if it’s not the best decision for the platform.
  • Browsers don’t add functionality outside of standards because developers wouldn’t utilize them. This means they can’t innovate.
  • Browsers don’t even comply with standards well. Developing for the web is a disaster because every browser has its own quirks and issues. They can’t even do one thing right.

The only way the web can survive is to reinvent itself, to refocus. Each browser should focus on innovation, not parity

  • Why do all browsers have to support the same standards? This only limits their innovation, and limits web developers.
  • Browsers should innovate as fast as possible, adding additional functionality without concern about the other browsers out there.
  • Web developers can choose which platform they want to develop for. Does your app run best using Chrome’s non standard SDK? Go for it.
  • Each browser can choose to mimic features that have been added by other browsers if they find they are losing developers or users.
  • Ultimately this will result in:
    1. Greater innovation in browsers and the web platform as a whole.
    2. Each browser will become its own platform, with varying application support.
    3. Users will choose browsers that run the applications they care about. Browsers with poor application support will die.
    4. Developers will no longer worry about running on every browser. The goal will be to create the best experience on one browser.

Developing for the web has always been a tradeoff: gaining a larger user base but sacrificing quality. The web has been improving steadily, but at a much slower pace than it should.

When GMail launched in 2004, it took one step forward and 10 steps backwards from the mail application I was using. Even today, the major features GMail is releasing are simply trying to match the features I’ve had on the desktop for years.

I think this is the tipping point for the web. The modern web had over 10 years to reach parity with desktop applications, and it couldn’t even hit that. Now it faces extinction as innovation in native applications accelerates.


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Forcing iPhone developers to write native apps gives Apple the ability to switch architectures more easily

Imagine if Flash was allowed to do this and a year from now let’s say 10% of the apps in the app store are going through Flash rather than writing specifically through x-code to the native SDK and Apple wants to do something with iPhone OS 5 a year from now that isn’t compatible with the output right now of Adobe Flash CS5. Well all of a sudden 10% of the apps in the app store can’t be updated to the latest version until Adobe updates their developer tools. And we’ve seen this before…

A really great point by Louis Gerbarg.

Flashback: 2003 Apple issues a recommendation, advising developers to switch to XCode developer tools. I was working on Final Cut Pro at the time. The switch from CodeWarrior to XCode wasn’t easy, but we knew we had to do it.

2005, Apple announces they are switching to Intel Macs. Developers who switched to XCode can simply flip a switch in the IDE and their application will compile for both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

By forcing all developers to use a single development platform and set of SDKs, Apple was able to change the most basic, critical, low level chip inside the Macintosh computer with minimal effect on developers and users.

Today, we see web development slowed because of compatibility with Internet Explorer. What if in the future, Apple couldn’t make massive, innovative, cutting edge changes to their platform because apps didn’t adhere to strict standards?

I’m all for being a little more strict, and a lot more cutting edge.


Note: Updated title. Was previously “IE6 caused the web to mature slower than it would have otherwise. Flash would do the same for the iPhone”

Don’t try to fight it. iPads are going to take over the world (I take mine to the gym)

I took my iPad to the gym last night. The gym is the only place I watch crappy live TV with commercials. But no more! I moved our Airport Extreme closer to the front of our apartment so I can get WiFi there!

It feels like I just got back an hour of my life to read or watch *good* content.


Geeks all over the world (myself included) are spending way too much time with their new best friend.


Sachin’s guide to buying an iPad. Get the facts on Apple’s product cycles.

Many people won’t buy a 1.0 Apple product because they think Apple will either add new features or drop the price quickly. (Other people are just haters looking for excuses).

When making a large purchase like an iPad, it’s important to be as informed as possible. Based on years of experience following Apple and their product line, here are my predictions for the future of the iPad:

  • Apple will not make hardware changes to the iPad for one full year. iPods are updated every September. iPhones are updated every June. The iPad will be updated every April.
  • The iPad will get free updates to fix bugs. So don’t think buying 1.0 means you have a buggy product (all iPhones are fully upgradeable).
  • The cheapest iPad is $499. This will not change. Apple might add more storage and features in future revisions, but $499 will be the low point for a while. 
  • The high end iPad models are where Apple makes most of its money. The 3G and memory chips cost less than $10. So these are also the models that might drop in price the most.
  • There are way too many iPad models right now. This is very unlike Apple and I believe they will consolidate once they figure out which models people are buying. 
  • Given all this, I predict that later this year the iPad product line will be something like:
  1. $499, 16GB WiFi
  2. $599, 32GB 3G
  3. $699, 64GB, 3G

Bottom line: If you are on the fence about buying a 1.0 iPad, go with the cheapest model.

I don’t think there will be a hardware revision this year, and I don’t think there will be a price drop on the $499 iPad. Whether you are buying a computer, car, or iPad, you get the most value out of the base model, and options have diminishing returns.

Being an early adopter can be super expensive if done poorly. But it is a manageable addiction. Buy the low end model, and be sure to sell it when you upgrade.

I don’t see the iPad as $500 lost. One year from now, I’ll buy an iPad 2.0 and sell this iPad for $400. So is $100 worth a year of iPad ownership? Hell yeah, it is.

The Finder is dead. Soon, a PC won’t have files, folders, or documents. It will have “apps” like an iPhone

There’s a major shift occurring in the way we interact with PCs, applications, and files. It’s being led by Apple with the iPhone, the iPad, and I predict, the next major version of Mac OS.

1. We will no longer interact with applications or files on a desktop PC

When you launch iTunes, you see your music. When you launch iPhoto, you see your photos. When you launch Mail, you see your email. Where is it all stored? Who cares. Apple stores these files on your Mac in a folder or “package” that isn’t meant to be examined or manipulated.

People resisted this model for a while. For some reason, users wanted to manage their files on a desktop, a paradigm that was revolutionary back in 1984. But I always loved Apple’s model. It makes everything easy to organize and backup. I don’t want to deal with the details, just make it work.

Apple used this as the de facto model for the iPhone. Each application has its own sandbox of files and data. The user isn’t aware of or troubled by the concept of files or storage.

The iPad works the same way, and for most people, so will their next PC. In just a few years, everyone but pro users will be using a device centered around “apps” instead of files. If you aren’t a developer, designer, or video editor, this simpler data model is all you need for the web, email, and media.

2. The central point of syncing your data will no longer be your PC, it will be Mobile Me (the cloud)

Right now you sync your iPod, iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV to your computer. Why is the computer the central point of all this? As these other devices evolve and become more powerful, we’ll use our PC less and less. The central point of sync should be the cloud, the internet.

I want to be able to access all my data on my iPhone, iPad, and iCar. And I want them all to be in sync. I want the data to be managed automatically, backed up, secure, and fast. If I buy a video on my iPad, sync it to my TV instantly. If I take a photo on my iPhone, sync it to my iPad. Don’t ask me anything, just make sure everything is everywhere.

The cloud will be the hub for everything, and each device will sync to it. When you want to replace the battery on your iPad, Apple will simply replace your entire iPad. Why not? Just resync all the data.

Back in 1998, Apple killed the floppy drive with one fell swoop. Killing the PC desktop won’t be as quick and easy, but Apple will do it over time. It started with the iPhone, and in a few years we won’t even remember the Finder.

Say goodbye to the desktop.


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