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orrenm

iPad development Surge, and Steve's on the fence :)

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I was reading this article about iPad development on TUAW: http://www.tuaw.com/2010/02/12/ipad-elicit...pp-development/

 

When I came across the following:

 

Many of the developers we're speaking with at Macworld Expo are excited about the iPad, but cautious. For example, when we spoke with Steve Shepard of Storyist, he said that he's excited to buy one and consider how it could fit with his product, but doesn't have solid plans to get right to work.

 

I'll stop holding my breath now. ;)

 

Orren

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Great find Orren. Thanks for the link. And now that we know that Steve was there we should ask/pester him for a fuller Storyist-slanted report.

- Thoth.

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Great find Orren. Thanks for the link. And now that we know that Steve was there we should ask/pester him for a fuller Storyist-slanted report.

- Thoth.

 

The quote in question was actually part of a longer video interview that was streamed from the show floor. The summary is accurate: I am excited about the iPad (in general), and, like any good Apple developer, am looking at potential products, but don't have "solid plans" yet.

 

I do have a couple of questions/concerns that are hard to answer without actually having one in hand:

 

* Will you feel comfortable writing with the device for more than, say, 10 minutes? In the promotional video, Jonathan Ive says "I don't have to change myself to fit the product. It fits me." That's not true for writers. You have to adapt to a non-standard keyboard. And the ergonomics for typing are less than ideal. I spent some time talking with Andy Ihnatko at the show. He actually got his hands on one at the unveiling and was able to evaluate both the virtual keyboard and the keyboard dock. There are going to be some challenges for any Storyist on iPad app.

 

* For writers, is the iPad an "instead of" product or an "in addition to" product? Makes a difference in the feature set and how the product is positioned.

 

-Steve

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Hi Steve.

 

The quote in question was actually part of a longer video interview that was streamed from the show floor...

Would you know where we could find it?

 

* Will you feel comfortable writing with the device for more than, say, 10 minutes?...

Speaking solely for myself, no. But I understand that there is an optional keyboard. Let's face it, the thing is Apple's e-reader. A great big iPod Touch.

 

* For writers, is the iPad an "instead of" product or an "in addition to" product?...

Again, speaking solely for myself, it's an "in addition to" product. The proverbial tablet computer won't be a satisfactory writer's tool until they perfect speech-to-text, and maybe not even then.

 

Anybody else want to weigh in?

- Thoth.

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I do have a couple of questions/concerns that are hard to answer without actually having one in hand:

 

I would like to know how the file system works and how I would sync documents with my computer. Will I be required to get Mobile Me, or will I be able to drag documents to a shared folder?

 

I like the idea of having an iPad for writing when I travel, because it is very cumbersome to carry my macbook pro and my work notebook.

 

IF

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I would like to know how the file system works and how I would sync documents with my computer. Will I be required to get Mobile Me, or will I be able to drag documents to a shared folder?

 

You can share documents now, with your iPhone/iPod Touch. I'm sure the filesystem will be the same. You can share over WiFi (using an app like Air Sharing or via your iTunes sync using iPhone Explorer (your iPhone/iPod Touch can be considered a flash drive). As you can see from the screenshots on the websites I link to above, the filesystem is very Mac OS-like.

 

 

* Will you feel comfortable writing with the device for more than, say, 10 minutes? ... You have to adapt to a non-standard keyboard. And the ergonomics for typing are less than ideal....There are going to be some challenges for any Storyist on iPad app.

 

I have never had one in my hands. I do, however, have an extremely close friend who has, and who like me, has published maybe half a dozen technical books. He told me that in his opinion, the keyboard is very easy to adapt to, although his typing speed is reduced. He also told me that Pages on the iPad is a dream, mostly because of the multi-touch operation to navigate to commands. In fact, his exact words were that iWork is the "killer app" of the iPad.

 

In my experience, I have an EeePC, a Linux netbook. I have written pages of fiction on it during business trips using it's 3/4 sized keyboard and 7" screen. I did not find it too difficult to use. I could type on it fine. My friend compared the iPad experience to that, although the netbook of course has the tactile response of keys being depressed, not simply a glass screen. also, the physical layout of a laptop, even a miniature one, puts the keyboard flat, but the monitor vertical. I can definitely imagine that the ergonomics would take some getting used to.

 

Let me also say, I got the EeePC to bring on business trips, to keep the weight and packing down. I brought it on two business trips, then stopped. While I thought the size was fine, the screen was terrible, and the fact is that I guess I'm not the geek I thought I was, because to me Linux is half-baked and I found myself having to read tutorials to get into the terminal to do nearly anything, and it made me sick. I prefer Windows to Linux, quite frankly. My next trip, I brought my Mac.

 

* For writers, is the iPad an "instead of" product or an "in addition to" product? Makes a difference in the feature set and how the product is positioned.

 

Speaking for myself, I own a desktop machine (audio workstation) and laptop (writing workstation) and if I were to buy an iPad (not certain if now or version 2.0) it would be an "in addition to." I would use it as an "around the house" internet device, when I'm going out to cafe's for light use, and for business trips instead of my full laptop. It would be nice to have for those trips, because I do try to write fiction when I'm away.

 

To be honest, I started this thread mostly to note that I found a quote of yours than anything else. I would rather see the desktop version of Storyist be all it can be than to suggest you split your time for an iPhone/iTouch/iPad version. Considering that Pages is going to be $9.99, that means you would basically be smart to charge a similar amount, which doesn't seem like a lot of payback for your effort (considering that as a general word processor, Pages has a much larger pool of potential buyers than a specific "writers tool" like Storyist, Scrivener, etc).

 

Orren

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I know I'm new to the forums but I'd thought I'd weigh in here.

 

I have not used the iPad so can't comment on it's use but I think people would want this for trips and what not to continue writing or to start if inspiration strikes. I also think if someone were to serious write on this, like I'm thinking of doing, they would be using the optional BT or iPad keyboard.

 

One issue is how would files be synced between your Mac and iPad but more importantly, can the iPad be used as a STAND ALONE machine for writing. That's where sales could come from in my opinion. As for function maybe a thread could be set up with suggestions.

 

For instance I have Storyist set up in three columns with my story in the middle, various files on the left and extras like the notebook on the right. Well imagine in portrait mode one of of these in shown but you can swipe with a finger left and right to get to the other screens.

 

A three finger double tap could start a new chapter, etc. These shortcuts could making writing even faster than using a mac.

 

Storyist could also be made to look even better taking Apples apps as an example. We have the cork board and other visual representations of real life work spaces, this could be taken even further.

 

While we are talking about adding new features, I love in Ommwriter how they have serene bg sounds and switchable backgrounds in full screen mode. Sometimes these have been great to write within a certain mood for me.

 

An export to ePub format would prob be huge as well.

 

Just writing as I think, sorry if it's disjointed.

 

To be honest I'd rather see a windows port before an iPad port, seems that would get FAR more potential customers than an iPad would at first.

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The question Steve asks ("Will you feel comfortable writing with the [iPad] for more than, say, 10 minutes?") is exactly the question I'm asking myself—and can't answer until the iPad is actually available in stores. I love the look of the device, especially as an e-Reader, as well as the early shots of iWork in action, but I'm not yet sold.

 

From the videos available on the Apple site, I think you can also use the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, which I happen to have to hand since my new iMac came with them. The new Bluetooth keyboard is about 3/4 size (no number pad and dual-duty function keys), and it's perfectly comfortable for extensive typing, except for the minor annoyance of having to remember to hit Fn in key combinations (as is also true of laptops). So I'm guessing that the keyboard dock will be similar and that the iPad will make a decent "away from the Mac" device for typing.

 

My questions are two:

1. Is the price difference between the iPad (I can live without 3G, but if I were going to write on an iPad, I'd probably want to buy the $699 model) and the Macbook ($900-1,000 depending on whether you do or don't qualify for discounts) enough to justify buying the iPad?

2. Does the convenience of being able to detach the device from its keyboard and, say, curl up on the couch with it make up for the lost screen space (again comparing the 10" iPad to a 13" Macbook)? I love my multiple windows in Storyist! Still, the kind of touch screen features TAS mentions might reconcile me to the idea of writing in a single iPad window, so long as I could split the screen when necessary, since most of the time I would still be working on the Mac.

Best,

Marguerite

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The question Steve asks ("Will you feel comfortable writing with the [iPad] for more than, say, 10 minutes?") is exactly the question I'm asking myself—and can't answer until the iPad is actually available in stores. I love the look of the device, especially as an e-Reader, as well as the early shots of iWork in action, but I'm not yet sold.

 

From the videos available on the Apple site, I think you can also use the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, which I happen to have to hand since my new iMac came with them. The new Bluetooth keyboard is about 3/4 size (no number pad and dual-duty function keys), and it's perfectly comfortable for extensive typing, except for the minor annoyance of having to remember to hit Fn in key combinations (as is also true of laptops). So I'm guessing that the keyboard dock will be similar and that the iPad will make a decent "away from the Mac" device for typing.

 

My questions are two:

1. Is the price difference between the iPad (I can live without 3G, but if I were going to write on an iPad, I'd probably want to buy the $699 model) and the Macbook ($900-1,000 depending on whether you do or don't qualify for discounts) enough to justify buying the iPad?

2. Does the convenience of being able to detach the device from its keyboard and, say, curl up on the couch with it make up for the lost screen space (again comparing the 10" iPad to a 13" Macbook)? I love my multiple windows in Storyist! Still, the kind of touch screen features TAS mentions might reconcile me to the idea of writing in a single iPad window, so long as I could split the screen when necessary, since most of the time I would still be working on the Mac.

Best,

Marguerite

 

You can't use a BT mouse, the control paradigm is touch and will never be mouse based. The BT keyboard will work but the dock keyboard DOES have iPad specific buttons that would be handy.

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Ah. Thanks for clarifying that.

 

It further muddies the price question, though. $699 + $70 for keyboard dock vs. $899 for Macbook with academic discount. How much are coolness and portability worth? B)

M

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It further muddies the price question, though. $699 + $70 for keyboard dock vs. $899 for Macbook with academic discount. How much are coolness and portability worth? B)

 

That's not quite the question, though. :)

 

If you can get a MacBook with an academic discount, you can also get an iPad w/academic discount. Apple doesn't usually offer accessories for much of a discount, but probably a few dollars off. So if you're comparing the high end iPad to the low end MacBook academic pricing-wise, it would probably be more like $629 + $59 vs. $899.

 

Of course, I would wonder, why are you comparing the highest-end iPad price? I can tell you, if you're really talking about a writing machine, there's no way you'll need 64GB. My EeePC had only 4GB of flash drive, and I could stick multiple full novels on that! Even a full PDF (which is far more memory intensive than a Storyist file) will be a few MB in size. I don't think any iApps take up more than a few hundred MB of room. Even Star Trek 2009 only takes up about 2GB or so of space. So unless you plan on sticking hundreds of movies and albums on the thing (and really, for a travel workstation, do you need that?) the 16GB version will do just fine. So I would say, the difference in price for an academic discount would be more like $429 + $59 vs. $899.

 

There is another option for you, maybe; you said you were an editor—do you work full-time for a publisher or freelance? When Amazon worked out their deal with publishers (including us) we got a one-time offer on a group buy for Kindles. I didn't go for it (I had and have no interest in the Kindle) but if Apple offers such a deal to publishers (I hope!) we might be able to get an iPad for even less than academic discount.

 

Also: keep in mind that there is no necessity (indeed, no reason at all, since there are no "Mac" keys on an iPad) of buying Apple's branded bluetooth keyboard. Check out the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000; a bit more expensive, 1.1" longer than the Apple Wireless keyboard, but this keyboard looks like The Shizzle, as the kids say.

 

Anyway, I'm with you (and Thoth, and really everyone :) ) that setting aside price, the real issue is "coolness factor" vs. "usability factor" and we won't really have the answer to that until each of us can wend our way to the Apple store and play with one firsthand. I keep hearing (from my friend and from columnists) that the iPad is a more "immersive" experience than web-surfing iPhone because of the size of the iPad, etc. But none of that represents what it will be like for actual writing.

 

Orren

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You are (we all are B) ) absolutely right: we won't really have the answer to that until each of us can wend our way to the Apple store and play with one firsthand. Consequently, my initial exuberance is quickly cooling. I like the Mobile Keyboard 6000, by the way, and agree that it "looks like The Shizzle, as the kids say." (I wish they'd stop saying that but what are you going to do. Kids!) For me the Comfort Curve keyboard, or a split keyboard, is a must. But will this really work on a Mac iPad? Their Mac system requirements (Mac OS X, v10.4x–10.5x, no mention of 10.6x or whatever iPad runs) seem pretty specific.

 

Snoop Dogg has a lot to answer for.

Fo'shizzle.

- Thoth.

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But will this really work on a Mac iPad? Their Mac system requirements (Mac OS X, v10.4x–10.5x, no mention of 10.6x or whatever iPad runs) seem pretty specific.

 

I'm sure that the Mac system requirement text is the result of 1) it being written before Snow Leopard and/or 2) nobody in MS not working on a Mac keeping up with the current Mac OS. In the MacWorld review from November 2009 (http://www.macworld.com/article/139396/2009/11/microsoft_6000_bluetooth_keyboard.html) they list the requirements as "Mac OS X 10.4 or later" and certainly, since SL was long available by November, if this keyboard didn't work with 10.6 they would have made a big ol' note of it (they mention other things that the keyboard doesn't come with, such as software to reprogram keys, etc.

 

However, if the version of the iPhone OS that runs on the iPad will be 100% like Mac OS X when it comes to bluetooth compatibility, we'll have to see.

 

Orren

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Yep. I read the article and it does say 10.4 or later and it was written Nov 27, 2009 (post 10.6 release) so it probably works with the iPad but I'd still want to see it first. (Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of the iPad OS?) I also felt they were a little stingy with the mice. (Three mice because: the Windows key that acts as the Command key on a Mac is not in the usual location for Mac users; it doesn't immediately reconnect when waking from sleep; it doesn't support some functionality found on Apple keyboards; you can't customize keys.) Then again, maybe not.

 

Once again, thanks for the link.

- Thoth

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Hey Steve, any reason for not having a PC port? Maintaining the different code bases?

 

Hi TAS,

 

Yes, there would be very little shared code between the two platforms.

 

-Steve

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Hi TAS,

 

Yes, there would be very little shared code between the two platforms.

 

-Steve

Plus Mac people are just infinitely cooler and more deserving of Storyist. B)

M

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Plus Mac people are just infinitely cooler and more deserving of Storyist. B)

M

You took the words right out of my mouth. (Typed them right out of my fingers?)

Happy President's Day.

(I'm dressing up as John Adams for our P-Day party.)

- Thoth.

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For the full interview, check out the TUAW article here.

Thanks Steve.

 

Do you think you will exhibit next year or was last year your last year?

 

Thanks again.

- Thoth

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Do you think you will exhibit next year or was last year your last year?

 

I haven't decided yet. I think the show will continue, though from my read, it looks like the conference will be where the growth is.

 

-Steve

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For the full interview, check out the TUAW article here.

 

And a good interview it is—nice to hear the full context of your quote that started the thread. I tend to agree with your sentiments—an iPad (especially without the keyboard dock/blutooth keyboard) will likely not be a writing workstation. In fact, I doubt that the iPad will be a production workstation for many people; in the audio world, the user bases are getting excited about it's functionality as a remote controller for desktop workstations, not a replacement for even a laptop studio.

 

That said, I could imagine a kind of "Storyist Lite" that really did little more than read Storyist files and let you do basic editing, which I'm betting is all most of us would ever want to do on a tablet.

 

And that leads me to another post, in another forum. :)

 

Orren

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I had a good idea, use the iPad as a second monitor. Write the app so that everything but the main writing part are used so we can look at our characters, story, plot etc to the side of our main machine while we write.

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Consider the useful ability to layer a list of incoming emails on the left of the read/reply screen: you call it up when you want it, you hide it when you don't. If you really need to see it while you're writing, I suppose you could leave it there. But, mostly, I read my other windows, and then get back to writing (since i can remember nothing that's not in front of me, I'm looking at just which year it was that a T'ang dynasty poet was banished from the court-- you don't really blame me for forgetting that, do you?). So, though I might have my archive copy carefully on the desktop for multiple backup land and for major in the house writing, I'm going to be out at 4000 feet, sprawled on boulders, wind in my hair, writing away on my ipad. Look again at the Phill Schiller portion of the iPad presentation, the part where he's using Pages on the iPad. Cool.

 

It does come down to this: lots of battery power, beautiful screen, beautiful programs, lovely writing environment. We could selectively transfer bits of the notebook, say, while having the various sheets with us. My notebook is fat with facts and pics I've stuffed there with my infinite (ha!) HD capacity on the desktop. But the sheets take negligible space. Calling them up even from a popup window is enough access for me.

 

Why should Steve have any leisure time at all? Why should he have time to have a drink and watch a movie? Doesn't he want to be coding 24/7 on top of what he's already doing? Kidding, of course, but I think writers are one group that will have serious passions about iPad and not care what it costs. We are, after all, impractical, impulsive, self-indulgent, and, above all, American consumers.

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