Ted Landau, writing for Macworld:
For me, the biggest reason I still take my MacBook with me when I need to get work done on the road is simply: typing. Whenever I expect to spend quality time with a keyboard, I want something beyond the iPad’s virtual layout.
I think this is a crucial point, even if it is a little bit boring. As a technology, the QWERTY keyboard is definitely archaic. I have friends who went to the trouble of learning alternative layouts for the sake of efficiency and easing carpal tunnel, but I imagine the debate about which layout is best will rage for some time. Nevertheless, QWERTY solved the input problem of its time. Unfortunately, its legacy has been a long one, and the problem it was meant solve no longer exists. There will surely come a day when the input problem of our time is solved, but it clearly hasn’t been by either porting QWERTY to touch screens—a technology for which regular touch typing is, in my opinion, singularly inapt—or introducing voice recognition. I can envision an ergonomics genius figuring out the perfect marriage between the necessity of manual input and the abstract nature of language, but my feeling is that keyboards are not the solution. There may not be one, in fact, given the diversity of human languages and the wide variety of their transcriptions. For English, I sometimes wonder if a syllabic method might be invented, something akin to the way Japanese is typed using transliterations of kana.
The other piece of this article I agree with is the discussion of cloud computing. Landau identifies a few problems, primarily the lack of sufficient local storage for our ever-uppiling midden heaps of content and the present limitations of iCloud’s ability to store, backup, and provide access to that content. I find iCloud to be occasionally useful, but I wouldn’t say “it just works.” Ideally, iCloud should be transparent—an integrated, in the background part of the OS that end users needn’t even think about. It should also provide unlimited storage for free. I believe we’ll eventually move in that direction, but, for now, the 5 GB maximum is pitiful and useless. Perhaps Apple (and other companies) could offer a “services subscription” that bundles a number of genuinely useful support services together for a yearly fee. In Apple’s case, it might make sense to combine unlimited iCloud storage with iTunes Match (a service I even have trouble explaining to people) and AppleCare. I have no idea if this would be cost-effective for Apple, but given their eagerness to push AppleCare plans on customers, it might be a way to sell more of them, assuming the gain here would offset the cost of all those server farms. In any case, I suspect all the competitors in cloud world are carefully analyzing the situation for the best competitive advantage they can come up with. For now, however, cloud computer is just like the keyboard: they both suck at what they do, but for now, nobody has an alternative.