So obnoxious and overpowering was the hype surrounding today's introduction of Apple's iPad that even my inbox started to catch some incoming. From reader Andy Taylor came this note: "I assume someone is already working on an EFB software application for the iPad? May be just the thing we've been waiting for, for search and display of approach plates, enroute charts and so on."
As much as I hate to admit it, he's on to something. We don't yet know much about the technical specs of the machine, other than it looks like a giant iPod Touch, has built-in wireless and a very thin, flat display architecture. That last part is the alluring factor for an e-reader and an EFB, although true EFBs also need at least a little processing/display horsepower. If you've ever run maps on a Touch or iPhone, the delay in map refresh is annoying. I'd never put up with that in the cockpit. Presumably, the iPad will address this.
For the March issue of Aviation Consumer, we're working on a comparison of electronic plate library hardware and, frankly, the killer app just isn't out there. All of them are compromised in some way, either being too small, too slow, too large or just not ideally suited to plate display. None of this has stopped developers from flogging them into the market anyway.
So, now the iPad. Watching some of the live blogging and tweeting going on Wednesday, my crap detector was off-scale high. Whenever you hear the phrase "game changer" or, gag, "this will change your life forever," there's an understandable urge to find a sharp object to slit your wrists with. Perhaps I'm being unkind
I heard a funny quote from media writer Ken Auletta who was asked shortly after the rollout if he thought the iPad would prove the savior or the struggling publishing industry. "Savior?" he replied. "If you want a savior, go to church."
What seems likely to me is that the iPad will draw more consumers into the world of e-readers. I've had a Kindle for about a year and love it. I might go for a color version, if the size and price are right. Starting at around $500, the iPad's price strikes me as about right, but its size might not be if it won't fit into a small backpack or it's too big to hold comfortably.
We will watch for aviation apps for the iPad issuing forth in due course. My prediction is that you'll see the first one well before Sun 'n Fun. Bets anyone?
While I'm waiting, the game hasn't changed and my life is pretty much the same: A dark, swirling vortex of unfulfilled promises.