Apple’s iPad to change tech gadget game

The Apple iPad: Just another piece of technology? Or an interactive computer that could possibly save the newspaper industry and revolutionize education?

With Wednesday’s unveiling of Apple’s newest invention, speculation in the tech world is rampant about how the public will use the company’s tablet.

Apple has a history of game-changing devices. The iPod, iPod Touch and iPhone all had competitors in those fields struggling to develop new and better products to compete with Apple.

Eric Benderoff, a former technology columnist for the Chicago Tribune who now runs BendableMedia.com, has been following Apple’s technology for years.

“Previous tablet-like devices have already failed spectacularly,” Benderoff said. “Apple is going to change all that. This will lead to everyone making their products better.”

Benderoff explained that the iPad will most likely be an application-based device, similar to the iPhone.

“It will probably have a whole sleet of Apple software combined with the features of the iPod Touch,” Benderoff said. “Hopefully it will combine the best of both device’s features.”

Jeff Larche, a digital strategist whose Web site Digitalsolid.com discusses new technology, said Apple recently patented a technology called the “Touch or Hover,” which would allow iPad users to perform different actions based on whether they touch a button or hover over it with their finger.

Larche added that the iPad could also change the way journalists publish their stories. He said the iPad would allow readers to view the stories online just as they are viewed in print — without ads in the middle of the stories or having to click the “next page” button — while incorporating large amounts of multimedia.

He also said readers’ enjoyment of newspapers could increase exponentially by using the iPad.

“What a pleasure (it would be) to read The New Yorker’s music critic and hear snippets of the songs being reviewed,” Larche said.

According to Larche, these types of iPad features could make journalism more viable for both large and small news organizations.

The iPad could also change the way college students take notes in class. Larche theorized that the iPad will have gesticulating technology that would allow tablet users to make writing motions with their hands that would then appear in note form on the screen.

This could combine the organization that comes from taking notes on a computer with the memorization that occurs when writing things down, Larche said. He said this is not the only change in education coming from the iPad.

“What you really want (from a teacher) is him or her in action,” Larche said. “Provoking inviting, inspiring, mentoring. All of that will be done ‘online’ with more fluid ways of interacting in the learning community.

“Actual lessons will be more like video games than textbooks,” he said.

The iPad comes equipped with a 10-inch screen. According to Michael Gartenberg,vice president of strategy and analysis at market research firm Interpret LLC and a columnist for technology magazines Computerworld and Slashgear, anything bigger than that would be too unwieldy and anything smaller would be too close to the size of an iPhone.

But not everyone is convinced the iPad is a must-have item. Mike Grimm, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he has no interest in buying Apple’s newest gadget.

“I already have an iTouch, and from what I can tell the iPad has similar features to the iTouch,” Grimm said. “I really don’t see the necessity of owning both.”

Whether the tablet is as revolutionary as some experts think remains to be seen. The iPad starts at $499, with 3G coverage or extra storage space bringing the price to as high as $829.