Flexible, accessible, mobile and indulgent, the iPad has changed the way I view the web, presenting me with an entirely new online experience and allowing me to browse web sites from any toilet seat or bathtub* I please.
Buying an iPad was a big decision for me, one that I pondered for many weeks on end until eventually I stumbled across the opportunity to buy one at Edinburgh airport (the iPad 2 has been sold out everywhere in the UK). I seized the moment, ignored the pleas of my wife (she’s now completely addicted to it) and burnt the expense to plastic. My life, and the way I view the web, then immediately changed forever.
I don’t know why I was so surprised and shocked by the effect the iPad had on me. As a long time iPhone user, it wasn’t like I was getting something drastically unfamiliar or even something unexpected. I knew exactly what the iPad was, how it worked, and what it could do yet still, regardless of these things, I didn’t anticipate being so floored and enamoured by owning a tablet. Yet suddenly it had replaced my desktop computer entirely, becoming my web browser of choice. It was convenient and highly usable, accessible everywhere and at any time.
The fact is that although the iPhone, and any other smart phone, has allowed us to access to the Internet for many years, the physical restrictions in the dimensions of their displays always prevented them for being anything other than emergency web browsers. The iPad (and other tablets) changed this by providing us with hardware proportion that made web surfing not only functional but downright delightful. Simply put, tablets brought something amazing to the world of the web user – absolutely freedom from traditional hardware.
New ways to view content
In addition to pure freedom, the iPad is revolutionising the way we view content by providing us with apps that interpret and reformat data into more suitable and easy to read fashions. Although there are dozens of excellent RSS readers out there, perhaps the most exciting things I’ve seen in a while is Flipboard, an application that sucks in information from all of your favourite sites, RSS feeds, Facebook profile, and Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and presents it all in one incredibly easy to read interactive magazine format.
Want to view the next blog article? Just swipe your finger left on the screen.
See, the iPad and its apps aren’t just about new ways to collect and present information but also about new ways for the user to browse and interact with it. Why click on hyperlinks, icons and images when you have a touchscreen sitting right in front of you, able to respond to your every whim and gesture? A fantastic example of this is OnSwipe, a platform that turns your site content into an tablet friendly magazine format that utilises gestures instead of faux-mouse clicks. Want to view the next blog article? Just swipe your finger left on the screen.
Changing the web industry forever
I suppose aside from the iPad changing the way I view the web physically, it’s also changed the way I view it as an entity. I no longer consider it just as something accessible via desktops and traditional browsers, instead I now see it as an unending, ubiquitous force that surrounds us, penetrates us and binds us together.
Tablets like the iPad are changing the way we all view and interact with the web and are pushing the industry forward as a result, changing the established requirements to what we consider as ‘web design’. Tablets are here to stay and are becoming a huge focal point for the web industry with many in fact advocating that building a mobile site should be everyone’s top priority. Designing sites specifically for tablet functionality, content purely for apps, web sites that resize and rescale to suit the mobile medium viewed in… it’s truly exciting to consider what the Internet landscape will look like in the years ahead.
*I by no means recommend using the iPad in the bath (unless you like living on the edge and have a lot of money).