iMania, revisited

It’s been a couple of years since the iPad was first released. It’s time for a new version; the iPad 3 is reportedly being announced tomorrow. Hey, look at that – everything I asked for (at least explicitly) when the original iPad came out has come to pass. Backgrounding apps (mostly) works; you can run Processing.js using one of various apps (probably several others, too); my sister even got a pony horse of her own, and a second horse, in the meantime.
When I said:

On the minus side: Apple has made, and will continue to make, an intentionally crippled and limited device in the name of a better overall user experience.

I believe I was and still am entirely accurate; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course. The recent concerns about address book privacy illustrate the concern perfectly; unrestricted access can easily lead to a very poor user experience.

Furthermore, when I said:

[The iPad will be] an unbelievable platform, and one which the vast majority of people will find satisfies their needs and exceeds all their expectations.

it turns out that I was more right than I expected to be – people are using iPads as their primary (!) machines, without so much as an external keyboard, for serious writing and content creation. It doesn’t satisfy all my needs, but it sure satisfies most of them, and exceeded most of my expectations.

What’s next? Well, iCloud and various other things have demonstrated that Apple’s goals point squarely at closer integration of all platforms, less reliance on the continual presence of a particular device itself, and a simpler user experience. Some of these things are fantastic – Photo Stream saves me a huge amount of time – and some of them not so much – Launchpad on the desktop is a sad joke. The App Store sandboxing and signing restrictions are very much a reasonable tradeoff (especially with non-App Store developer signatures in the offering for Mountain Lion), but splitting the APIs up so some of them are only available to App Store apps and some of them are only available (or at least useful) to non-App Store apps seems like a nightmare if it continues.

So: the iPad will continue to be a rampaging success. Apple TV will end up being less about a media box per se and more about a central hub for your devices to cross-connect (or maybe the Apple TV box will be /just/ a media interface, and the next generation of Airport devices will provide the smart hub). They’ll (maybe) figure out how to make iCloud not suck so much if you have a bunch of machines connected to the same account all on a local network. Xcode will continue to be an amazingly headachy IDE wrapped around a progressively more impressive compiler. Other businesses will continue to violently misunderstand what Apple is doing. They’ll continue to do unpleasant, walled-garden things in the name of a delightful-but-controlled user experience. I’ll keep using Apple products, and a Linux box, and a Windows box (but I’m probably not going to upgrade to W8 any time soon).

And I’ll hope that legislation doesn’t cause the internet to crumble out from under me in the meantime.