Last night, on the eve of what might be the most exciting Apple announcement this year, I wondered what a Mac slate or tablet could mean for scientists, researchers, and people in the field. Now with the iPad announced and the details of it released, here are some of my thoughts.
The increased mobility of a small device designed to be used with specialized apps and software could boost overall productivity. Functionality, combined with mobility can be incredibly useful for scientists.
For example, Wired has this list of 22 iPhone apps for science geeks that include a genetic decoder, anatomy flash cards, food information database, and a scientific calculator. These could be useful on the iPad too, since the iPad can run any apps in the store.
Increased mobile connectedness to the web can be super powerful. We are already seeing mobile technology being helpful for relief efforts in Haiti and a larger, more powerful, yet still portable, device could enhance what can be done and create new possibilities for these purposes and others.
As for ideas of specific uses of the iPad, I can imagine that a scientist could take this device into their study areas to help record data, look at maps, read reference books, and plot trails and data.
This could possibly help scientists forgo the hours and hours usually spent on data entry!!! Especially since Numbers has a function that creates a form for data entry!
I’ve also read about iPod Touches being used in classrooms to supplement math, science, language and other lessons, so the iPad might eventually make it’s way into the classroom too (but that might take a while because of cost!).
It is cool to see something like this come into being. While the iPad might not end up doing a ton for scientists, I’m still excited to see what will happen with the functionality this new tool!