iPad Combines the “Three Screens” into One

The iPad is a jack-of-all-trades. Advertisers and TV producers have talked about wanting their content to appear on the “three screens” that tech-savvy consumers use, as described in this list:

  • Television screen: Though it's the oldest type of screen in most households, it's starting to undergo some radical changes, with Google TV, AppleTV, and various other players attempting to fuse web browsing with viewers' favorite programs.

  • Computer screen: Many consider this type of screen to be the most powerfully interactive platform because most computers now empower users to write stories, enhance photos, edit video, and compose songs.

  • Mobile phone screen: This newest competitor for our attention (and money) is the one that people take with them everywhere.

One reason that the iPad is generating so much excitement is that it offers designers and content creators the best of all three types of screens. The iPad matches up well for these reasons, in the same order as in the preceding list:

  • Video playback takes place on a screen that is large enough and with a resolution high enough to make watching a full-length movie an enjoyable experience rather than an exercise in eyestrain.

  • An iPad has enough processing power, memory, and functionality to allow users to type long messages without blowing up their carpal tunnel muscles while also allowing them to compose music or splice clips into video sequences.

  • An iPad can be detached from the wall outlet and Ethernet cable and taken just about anywhere — and still be able to connect with the Internet.

Admittedly, the iPad isn't better than the three classes of screens; it’s neither a 50-inch, high-definition plasma screen nor an octo-core video editing workstation; it isn't tiny enough to fit into a shirt pocket. But it comes close, and that makes it handy to have around. It’s the Swiss army knife of content platforms.

What this means for designers is that you can play with a lot more screen real estate than you can on a mobile phone, while still building in hot new functions such as location-aware content, fun accelerometer interactions, and intuitive touchscreen functionality. Though many early reviews of the iPad dismissed it as “a device in search of a purpose,” this has proven to be untrue.

The iPad is a jack-of-all-trades ― a platform that will only grow more accepted into all of our lives, providing users with an enjoyable web browsing experience, a way to create complex content, and a cool companion whenever they want to curl up on the couch with a good book (or giggle at the latest quirky viral video hit).

Much of the quality you insert into that experience for your users depends on how well you're able to understand and employ the latest web technologies: HTML5 and CSS 3.

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