The iPad Mini Dividing Line

November 14th, 2012

David Sparks:

For now at least, I think one of the big dividing lines between the iPad mini and the larger size iPad is content consumption versus creation. If someone is just going to be reading books, surfing the web, checking email, the iPad mini is perfectly adequate. If someone is going to do significant writing, digital art, or any of the other more traditional “creation” tasks, there’s a really good case to be made for larger iPad.

(Via Shawn Blanc.)

That’s exactly right. For how I use the iPad—reading and writing—the iPad Mini makes all the right trade-offs (except, of course, for the non-retina screen). Writing and editing on the iPad Mini isn’t much different for me than it was on the full-sized iPad. But for other purposes, the full-size iPad is absolutely superior.

When I wrote about the (then theoretical) iPad Mini earlier this year, one of my concerns was that a smaller screen would make creative tasks like sketching, painting, creating presentations, or other tasks which benefit from a physically large screen difficult, and thus would water down the iPad’s potential for more creative functions right when we’re defining what it’s for. After using the iPad Mini, I think I overstated that argument then, but the heart of it is true.

I also think, though, that the benefits—making the iPad something that even more people can use, and expanding the iPad to new contexts—will be a net gain for it. Developers will have even more reason to build for the platform, and will have new use-cases to build applications for. There’s even potential that the iPad Mini’s smaller screen-size will result in developers re-thinking how certain tasks, like spreadsheets or editing text, can be better accomplished on a smaller screen, which would also benefit the full-sized iPad as well.