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The iPad as a creative sketchbook

December 28, 2010

Kobe Drawing, by aperturismo

Everyone knows iPads are good for consuming music, photos, videos, and text. They are also great for creating content. Ruben Puentedura writes compellingly about the concept of a The Lively Sketchbook, a neat metaphor for a pad that responds to the artist. The article predates the iPad, but the comments include Ruben’s list of apps for the device. A recent article in I Education Apps Review also has an eye-popping list of iPad apps for creativity.

I am convinced that we will see extensive growth in the use of the iPad and competing slates for creative expression. They are light enough to carry anywhere and the screen, though smaller than a laptop, is large enough for lots of creative activities. Equipping the device with a decent camera and microphone would give the user the potential to mash up all sorts of creative multimedia.

Apple is fanatic about keeping the iPad simple, but some additional options (like a decent camera) would be very helpful in creativity apps. I hope Apple and other vendors are addressing these issues as they develop new devices.

Using your finger on the screen leaves smudges and is not very precise. One answer is a third party stylus. For an iPad, be careful to get one that’s compatible with the capacitive touchscreen. The Pogo Sketch ($8 at Amazon) works well. [image from iPad drawing with Pogo Sketch stylus at Dock’s Development Blog]

When I am editing text on my iPad, I find the lack of arrow and tab keys on the keyboard extremely frustrating. To my knowledge, an external keyboard is currently the only way to solve this. Why has no third party produced a keyboard customization app?

Sharing content between apps is hit-or-miss. You rarely know before you install an app if it will play nicely with others. The user doesn’t have direct access to the iPad’s file system, so each app pretty much fends for itself in terms of file storage. Some will let you open a file in another app, but this kind of exchange is far from universal.

Inconsistency in sharing files with your desktop is also a hassle. You can add files through the iTunes sync window, but that becomes tedious if you need to do it often. It’s much easier when the app lets you move files directly to and from your desktop. Unfortunately, each app is different. Given past practice it is very strange that Apple allowed this to happen.

From these criticisms it may seem that I am unhappy with the iPad. That is definitely not the case. At first I was leery of the device, but I have become a big fan. I look forward to the competition with Android and the improvements it should spur.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Chaz permalink
    January 3, 2011 8:55 am

    “Why has no third party produced a keyboard customization app?”

    I don’t think Apple allows it. I think that’s why there also aren’t gesture based keyboards for the iPhone and iPad like android has.

  2. December 31, 2010 1:57 am

    It is indeed good news that iPad has features for creative sketching. I believe that since teenagers are into gadgets, sketching in their iPad would provide a therapeutic outlet.

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