Credit goes to Vincent Nguyen of SlashGear for asking a dangerous question during a demo of the new iWork Keynote app on the iPad.
It parted the mist in my mind and revealed the missing heart of the iPad.
It happens at near the 4:30 mark in his 15-minute video here.
He’s being shown a demo of Keynote and, lo!, a feature that Steve never showed is revealed:
She swipes her finger up at the bottom:
To reveal a color pallette:
This is the Chalkboard feature, where marks can be made on a slide:
Vincent asks if those marks can be saved. They cannot.
And that switched on the lighbulb in my head.
What’s missing from the iPad — the stuff that should be the heart of it — is sharing and collaboration.
In my checklist, I said there’d be a new iWork.com demonstrated.
Where did that go?
Also, thinking about it, Steve never mentioned being able to email iWork files. Can they be? And what if the target recipient doesn’t have an iPad with him, only an iPhone? Is there an iPhone client?
Plus, where’s the peer networking aspect? There are collaborative games that can be played on the iPhone. Why doesn’t the iPad feature collaborative productivity?
Why can’t two iPads discover one another, link, and share iWork files and photos?
This is what’s missing from the iPad: collaboration and sharing.
This is another reason why I insist there will be an Apple event prior to its on-sale date.
What’s missing now will be revealed then.
We’ve only seen the face of the iPad, not its heart.
While Steve didn’t say anything about emailing iWork files during the keynote, he did mention the functionality in a video chat with Walt Mossberg afterwards:
Ha! I saw that video just before you tweeted me about this Comment.
What makes you think a Pages document created on an iPad could not be opened on a Mac, or vice versa?
I am more interested to see how they are going to handle fonts. Is it possible to add new fonts to the iPad? Imagine a company uses a particular font. You can forget using it as a presentation device if they were not able to add that particular font to their iPad. Steve loves fonts. It was at the heart of the first Mac. I doubt he would dismiss that option.
I don’t know where you got that idea. It’s iWork, so of course the Mac and iPad can work on the same files. I’m talking about emailing them out. Which is probably possible because Steve Jobs mentioned to Mossberg in a video that he could do a Save As… to Word format and email that. You bring up a good omission there too: fonts. But I tend to doubt that.
I’m also hoping the next iteration of the iPhone/iPad OS allows for apps to pass data to each other. Education/research specific apps would be so much better if they could have data sets in common.
>>> Why can’t two iPads discover one another, link, and share iWork files and photos?
Because then they’d need Shrek ears like the OLPC laptop?
Don’t panic, Appleinsider has noted the solution here:
An interesting take on the ‘file-system’ aspect of the iPad.
Wonderful article. Thanks.
Yes, this sounds like it’s on the right track for sharing, but it’s still missing something. What happens when you’ve got thousands of documents? Will finding and presenting them in this way be sufficient?
To my mind, it will need something more. Something along the lines of Devonthink but with a simpler, more intuitive interface.
>>>What happens when you’ve got thousands of documents?
Yes, I thought of that too because I’ll probably run into that situation shortly after I own an iPad. It will be interesting to see if there’s an upper boundary on the number of files.
This struck me too in watching the Keynote. I was surprised that Steve didn’t mention collaboration and that Apple doesn’t seem to have built that into the software suite they are shipping with the product.
OTOH, and as you mentioned, on my iPhone, I have applications that already enable simple peer networking applications–exchange of data or collaborative creation (canvas sharing), for example. That works via bluetooth or even in a cloud model.
So really, this is something that Apple can easily address in software releases later and perhaps it isn’t surprising that it wasn’t emphasized in the Keynote so as not to dilute the main message.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean to dismiss that here, getting collaboration right is not an easy problem to solve. Look at the mess of Google Wave. I’d love to see what Apple’s design talent could do with that.
This is why I said the iPad is incomplete. It’s just natural that people will tote their iPads around, meet with friends or be in business meetings, and have things they want to or need to exchange. I’m sure it’s coming and if it’s not added pre-sales, it will be shortly thereafter. Perhaps they need to put finishing touches on iwork.com beforehand.