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Large, cumbersome mobile devices for everybody!

11/25/2015

Remember that period in the 1990s when it seemed like cars and trucks had fallen in love with steroids? SUV sales shot through the roof, and powerful cars regained their prominence all before gas prices climbed to unprecedented heights. Oddly enough, mobile technology took an almost completely opposite path. Cellphones went from comically large bricks that could barely fit into briefcases to tiny flip phones that could easily be lost. Just like the gas prices that stymied SUV sales, a certain innovation pushed consumers to call for a reversal of the phone-shrinking trend. What turned the tide? The iPhone, of course.iPad with Apple logo

Giving the iPhone all the credit is not quite fair; it was truly the ability to view photos and streaming content via wireless devices that changed the landscape. As wireless connections became faster, the thirst for streaming media grew at the same pace. The problem was the first iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen was not designed for HD videos, 50 megapixel photos or long viewing sessions. But as consumers clamored for larger screens, Apple stubbornly refused to give in, one choice that led to iPhone alternatives and Android’s viability.

With Android supplying the large-screen market, Apple eventually followed with the iPad and, reluctantly, larger iPhones. Today the market is saturated with large smartphones, tablets of varying sizes and the intermediary devices commonly referred to as “phablets.” Consumer outcry seemed to be satiated, but as Steve Jobs so proudly proclaimed, it seems consumers never truly know what they want. Phones with 5-inch screens were maligned for being uncomfortable and too easy to break, while the utility of tablets has never truly been found on a consumer-wide scale.

So what’s the answer? An even bigger tablet! This fall, Apple released a gigantic new iPad dubbed the “iPad Pro.” The idea is simple: If a tool isn’t being completely adopted by consumers and isn’t being used by professionals, retool it for the larger audience. Designers, managers, photographers and salesmen are only a few of the professionals who are targets for the new 10-inch screen. Teamed with a pull-away keyboard and the new Apple stylus, the “Pencil,” purpose-minded users finally have the screen real estate to get down to business in a mobile environment.

The problem is that, just like large phones, the inflated iPad might be too large. As with all tablets, generally one hand holds the device, while the other interacts with the screen. A larger device can get tiresome on the holding hand and wrist. Plus, when you’re working on a tablet laying flat, the user must awkwardly lean over it, bending the wrist and neck. Finally, as robust as the App store is with applications, it is quite limited compared to the software available in the desktop environment, so “pros” are undercutting their utility by purchasing a tablet.

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The tablet-owning faithful would argue a laptop is not a replacement for the mobile of a tablet, and there are plenty of workable alternatives to popular desktop software. The No. 1 creative software supplier is Adobe, which produces Photoshop and Illustrator among others. These programs do have iPad Pro options, but they’re a fraction as powerful. The funny thing is, compared to the rising popularity of convertible laptop-to-tablet options such as the Microsoft Surface, the iPad is more of a luxury than a necessity.

So if there are mobile-capable options that offer iPad freedom with desktop power, why would anyone purchase a limited iPad? Because of the logo on the back of the device. Some users will never be able to give up their irrational loyalty to Apple, even if their device is awkward, restrained and uncompromising. CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

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