What’s so exciting about the new iPad Mini? At first glance…maybe not so much after all. Despite the buzz prior to the official announcement from Apple last week, our initial impressions were lukewarm. Cheaper than the iPad but hardly a steal, the Mini doesn’t seem quite as disruptive a device as its big brother was when it first burst onto the scene.
But there are some intriguing qualities and possibilities about this tablet that could make for promising product development in the coming months and years. We sat down with two of our skilled designers, Lyndon Mayer and Dominic Wong, to chat about what the newest Apple device means from an app development perspective, and what opportunities it might present for emerging markets and untapped audiences.
The good news for designers is that the Mini has the same screen resolution as the iPad 1 and 2 (1024 x 768), so you can continue to design for the iPad as usual. What you see on the 7.9 inch screen will look sharper than on the larger version, because the density of pixels is smaller.
But if the iPad Mini will run all the same apps and programs as the bigger iPad, would you ever develop a product specifically for the Mini? That depends on how the Mini is being used compared to the iPad.
Lyndon pointed out that the ability to hold the device in one hand opens it up to a broader range of uses, such as for doctors, field workers, or others who might work out of an office but like the accessibility of a tablet. A tablet that fits into one hand means that you can really utilize your second hand while still looking at the screen.
Dom suggested the iPad Mini’s value of use will be relevant for not only entertainment (think beyond movies or games to art installations or communications pieces), but also for travel and exploring. For driving, the larger screen combined with LTE speeds could make it a more effective GPS device than an iPod Touch or iPad.
Navigation in particular seems like a perfect fit for the Mini – for example, tourism bureaus could rent them out to help visitors explore a city. Dom pointed out how the iPad Mini – and any tablets, for that matter – can help in wayfinding. Check out a project called Urbanflow Helsinki, which envisions rebuilding how a city interacts with the accompaniment of touch and gesture technology. Imagine tablets located at hot spots throughout a city that educate users/visitors about a city’s neighborhood, its crowd cluster trends, and the history of the place.
Both designers agreed that the Mini seems better suited to reading than the larger version (backlit screen aside). The size is closer to a book, and alongside the updates to iBook, that certainly seems strategic on Apple’s part.
So will you see Invoke developing a product with the Mini in mind? You’ll just have to stay tuned. In the meantime, share with us how you think the iPad Mini will be used.