Yesterday morning, as I was digging my way out of deadline and eagerly awaiting the start of Apple's holy tablet presentation, I got a panicked call from my mother. She had some important legal documents she needed to print and sign, but she couldn't get them to open. The Word format documents were trying to open in Word, naturally, but Word was a trial version -- the docs should have been opening in Pages. Somehow, perhaps during the OS upgrade, the defaults had gotten reset.
So I did my tech support thing, slowly walking her through the steps to fix the problem (her connection is too slow and intermittent for me just to take control of her screen remotely). It's easy to forget from my semi-nerdy little enclave with ScanSnaps and terabyte drives and specialized applications that just because it's a MacBook doesn't mean it's instantly understandable to anyone.
Though I do take great comfort that my family is now completely off Windows, although those panicked calls to me for help were easier to handle: "I dunno."
Anyway, when I read some of the underwhelmed reactions to the iPad yesterday, I was already primed to see what they were missing. Sure, for a geeky person, the lack of multi-tasking is a pain -- hell, I wish my damn iPhone would implement some limited multi-tasking so I could keep my time management system running constantly, rather than having to fire it up repeatedly after making a call or checking in with another app. But for someone like my mom, who can sometimes still gets flustered and frustrated by applications that move and hide and disappear and reappear, the one-thing-at-a-time approach of the iPad and its stripped down interface would likely be a huge relief.
I don't know what the situation would be with printing attached documents, but I do think that the simple email and browsing that she primarily uses her laptop for would be better handled through the iPad.
For myself, aside from my natural Apple fanboy instinct of see-want-must-have, I've been more anxiously awaiting the arrival of the iPad ever since my first-generation Kindle bit the dust. I actually like a lot about the Kindle, but there was lots to dislike as well (*cough* idiotic page navigation *cough*). I'm glad I waited -- the iBooks interface looks like it will be a lot more in tune with how I read these days. Plus, even I've grown tired of lugging my MacBook into the living room simply to surf web sites while watching TV, something my iPhone is too small for. I'm not totally sold on the movie playback, yet, but then again I've been watching widescreen movies on my iPhone while on the elliptical machine for a long time now, and any increase in size, even small, might be welcome.
The only real question is, can I wait until the second generation iPad?