Why Junk Mail Matters

If you keep up with Apple you’ll doubtless be watching very closely for the new iPad/Slate/whatever tablet-style computer-thing to be released next Thursday morning, 4am Brisbane time. You might even be wondering what it will be good for? If you have a laptop and an iPhone, why would you need anything else? Well, a few reasons.

Living without a letterbox, we don’t get junk mail. That’s made me realise the power of a piece of print: it hangs around. Simply because it’s there, it gets read at breakfast, dinner, whenever. We still get the RACQ monthly magazine and it hangs about too. As we aren’t fans of the local newspaper, we simply don’t get one.

A tablet computer which actively presented news to me would be left around the house — in a way a laptop isn’t — and would actually get read. Reading a lot on the iPhone can be a pain, simply because of the size of the screen. However, I have read books on it, and I read The Guardian a lot more now that I have their app. I can choose to see more of what I want to read and skip the ads. As with the iPhone itself, it’s all about making the experience better, easier to use. Yes, I could read the website for free, but I’ll pay (once!) for the ability to easily find Charlie Brooker’s latest rants and see my news on the front page.

So, hanging around the house. Surfing, reading and watching videos from bed or sofa. Sure. But the thing that would really make a difference? Imagine what the best iPhone apps could offer if they had much more screen space. Think about your current apps (games for starters) and I think you’ll find a few things you’d love even more if they were bigger.

There are already screen-sharing/remote control apps which let you see your local Macs on your phone — much more useful showing the full screen. A holiday computer with a Lonely Planet app that gives you an interactive version of a guidebook, with maps in English that locate you — but guidebook-sized. A 5MP still/HD video camera with a 10″ viewfinder? Hell yeah. A video-chatting machine that’s much lighter and easier to use than the current solutions? Yes please. Some truly cool stuff from the multi-touch interface is a given.

People like apps because Apple made them accessible and easy to buy. Applications on a Mac or a PC are still a scary concept for most people — if it didn’t come pre-installed, it doesn’t exist. Computers scare people. iPhones don’t. The tablet probably won’t either.