Yeah, I’m a little late to the discussion. But as I’ve contemplated over past weeks the merits of the iPads form and function, trying to imagine what I’d do with it and what others might do with it, I keep coming back to the same problem: the iPad, nor the iPod or iPhone, support juxtaposition. That’s what all of this whining about multitasking is about. So many things we do on computers is compare, contrast, and cross-reference between applications, and yet that’s one of the major things the iPad cannot do.
I wish copy and paste were enough, but it’s not. It’s about writing an email about the news article you have open, or quickly checking the status on some build, or reading a dictionary definition online while you’re writing. You can’t do these things on single-task UIs, because the cost of leaving one app, opening another, and then returning to an app is at least 30 seconds. That, and everything you might want to juxtapose against has to be kept in your head for these 30 seconds. Good luck with that when you’re trying to think.
So maybe Apple decided the device wasn’t for thinking or creating. Maybe it’s just for consuming. But even consumption takes juxtaposition. I find myself on my iPhone all the time, wanting to read a Yelp review and see where a place is on the map at the same time. Because this isn’t possible, the Yelp app tries to do maps well, and the Maps app will probably try to incorporate reviews, leading to substandard experiences in both apps. Or, another example was when I was doing my taxes online: I was referencing advice in forums about teacher deductions (which I found out I can’t take), while trying to decide how to answer a TurboTax question. On the iPad, I’d have to go back and forth between the two, memorizing all the numbers and exceptions in the forum post in order to act upon them in the tax software.
People are going to realize this soon, too, and Apple’s going to suffer for it. Either Apple is just waiting for the right time to support juxtaposition, or their designers just have no idea how people produce and consume information.