Remember when tablets were cool?

My iPad 3 died last night. Carelessly left to linger along the edge of a desk it soon fell victim to the curious paws of my cat and landed directly on a wheel of my office chair. The sound an iPad makes when it breaks this way is like a car window shattering. For a moment I thought someone had tried to vault into (or out of) my apartment.

In a way this accident’s timing is convenient. Apple just debuted its new iPad Air 2, so if I buy a replacement I’ll be at the cutting edge of the release cycle. The new tablet is by all accounts the best ever made.

Yet as I stood in the Apple Store today with its svelte frame in my hands, contemplating a purchase, I was more annoyed than excited. I’d be lying if I said the shiny new model felt meaningful quicker or drastically better in my hands. Pay $600? For this? I just couldn’t do it.

The moment my iPad broke didn’t change anything about my life. Without it I can still write, I can still play games, I can still visit web pages, I can still check my email. Absolutely everything that my tablet could do is already covered by another more necessary device (mostly my computer and smartphone, but game consoles as well).

For perhaps a year I felt that maybe Wired’s prophetic post-iPad article “How the Tablet Will Change the World” was not as overwrought as I’d thought. Maybe they would change the world. Maybe we would stop using PCs entirely. Maybe “a tablet in every backpack” would become the battlecry of a new era for education. Tablets were everywhere. Tablets could do everything. Tablets were cool.

But now the future isn’t as clear. Tablets aren’t going anywhere, but neither are PCs, or phones. There’s a dizzying range of devices available in nearly any size I’d like. Even Apple’s lineup is starting to become confusing. The expanding capabilities of each device is making the battlefronts between them longer, vaguer and harder to define.

If tablets aren’t going to take over, though, what is? I don’t think there’s a clear answer to that question. There isn’t anything in consumer technology that’s omg awesome! right now except 4K monitors - but I get the sense the general public isn’t on board with them yet. And they only improve, rather than change, how we use computers.

Maybe I will end up buying an iPad Air 2. Right now, though, I’m tempted to wait until something cool comes along.

Why I cry when Tim Cook says he has “one more thing”

“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to switch people from Android to iOS. So yes, this is epic. It is epic.”

This quote from Marco della Cava’s piece about Cook in USA Today shows Tim Cook at his most aggressive. While different from Jobs in many ways, Apple’s new CEO shares the unrelenting ambition of his predecessor. Cook wants Apple to explore new frontiers through innovation in both new categories and in existing, successful hardware.

But ambition is not enough on its own. What made Jobs a legend in consumer technology was the fact his ambition came second to his desire for perfection. The potential market for a new device wasn’t as important as the sanctity of its design. If he felt something was out of place, it wasn’t going to be sold, period.

By contrast, Cook comes across as a conqueror rather than a perfectionist. Why is the new iPhone larger? Because it’ll steal market share. He told Charlie Rose at PBS that “it’s [the new iPhone] been about making a better phone in every single way,” but as far as I can tell, he’s never specifically said why a larger screen is a better design.

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Matt Smith, Senior Editor at Digital Trends



Welcome to @matt_on_tech, a simple blog belonging to me, Matt Smith. I’m a writer, technology guru, gamer, and Senior Editor of the Computing section at Digital Trends. In my down-time I’m an avid fan of video games (particularly the strategy and racing genres), but I sometimes get away from my PC long enough to camp, hike and enjoy the Pacific Northwest.

Email me to get in touch or follow me on Twitter and Google+. I’m currently looking for gigs that cover gaming, iOS devices or display technology.