Thinking about the iPad in a professional psychology practice – in response to a fifteen year old’s dissing of it as useless

In my previous post, I wrote of a workshop participant whose 15 year old son, upon learning of her impending attendance, had warned her off getting an iPad when it’s released.

A day or two ago, having absorbed some of my workshop content, she went back to the son and asked him to be more specific about his opposition to its purchase. I’m guessing his reply utterly flummoxed her, given she passed it on to me in an email, below, in its entirety, and without comment herself. Here it is, with ID protected:

Hi Les,

Really enjoyed your session on Saturday. I picked up on your excitement about the pending iPad but had been previously deterred by my 15 year old so I asked him to put together a list of why he thought the iPad wasn’t going to be useful (we both have iPhones and I have a MacBook which you may recall I run as a PC as well as Mac to accommodate some untransferrable programs and files). So I thought you might be interested in his list:

  • Apple trimmed down the iPad to leave market for MacBooks
  • It’s basically a larger iPhone with less features
  • All text is aligned to the left. There is no justification or centering
  • The iPad is meant to the greatest web-surfing experience available but there is no Flash support
  • The iPad has no camera, the iPhone does, the MacBook does and even the iPod Nano does
  • Doesn’t run a proper operating system, high risk of being maliciously hacked
  • Can’t multitask, period
  • No replaceable battery
  • No HDMI support, no USB support
  • It’s incapable of tethering to your iPhone’s data plan meaning you have to pay twice as much for 2 separate plans

What’s interesting, apart from the false positives list, is the depth of understanding a 15 year old brings to the subject and his knowledge of terms; as well as his thinking about the iPad in the first place. I don’t know how much time he put into this, but I can guess the iPad and other Apple products are much in discussion amongst his friends and acquaintances. If you’re over 40, do you remember what tekky things you discussed when you were fifteen, in the mid-1980s? Perhaps the Mac Plus, or an Amiga or Commodore PET… Yikes!

Anyway, here’s my reply, where-in I take each exception individually. I didn’t put much thought into it, nor much research, so in the comments section please feel free to make corrections, additions etc., which I will selectively pass on, and use for a further blog post, where possible:

I’ll take them one at a time. I intend tomorrow to write a new blog entry as to how a psychologist might use an iPad.

·         Apple trimmed down the iPad to leave market for MacBooks
The iPad is not a netbook or notebook. It is its own entity and can be used by anyone who also owns a desktop or laptop for its specific purposes. I’d rather hand a patient an iPad to fill in a BDI or DASS (Ed: mood questionnaires) than hand them a Macbook, wouldn’t you?
·         It’s basically a larger iPhone with less features
No, in some respects it has more features such as iWork, plus a much bigger screen which will allow developers to construct new apps plus the already existing 170,000 apps. That it’s like a familiar device you really like means your learning curve will be simple.
·         All text is aligned to the left. There is no justification or centering
Plain wrong. You can download Pages for US9.99 and it operates just like Pages on the Macbook.
·         The iPad is meant to the greatest web-surfing experience available but there is no Flash support

Flash is over-rated and a memory hog responsible for lots of crashes. I have Click-to-Flash installed on my Macbook Pro to prevent Flash pages from opening. Flash on the web is 80% ads and porn. Occasionally, I can’t access certain pages, but as the iPhone and iPad gain popularity, more webpages will move from Flash to html5 and Quicktime.

·         The iPad has no camera, the iPhone does, the MacBook does and even the iPod Nano does

Oh, you already have these cameras, then you’re not missing out, A next generation may come with a camera, but it won’t be anything like what’s on the iPhone. It may well be a fullscreen version of a new type of camera.

·         The iPad has no camera, the iPhone does, the MacBook does and even the iPod Nano does

Oh, you already have these cameras, then you’re not missing out, A next generation may come with a camera, but it won’t be anything like what’s on the iPhone. It may well be a fullscreen version of a new type of camera.

·         Doesn’t run a proper operating system, high risk of being maliciously hacked

Exactly the reverse. Every app has to be uploaded via the iTunes store. If there’s no malware or virus for the Mac, there won’t be any for the iPad, as it operates a cut down version of OS X. Perfectly safe. The iPhone has been out 3 years already – have you heard of any malware for it? No.

·         Can’t multitask, period

On this sort of device compared to a desktop, multitasking is overrated. You can still surf the web while your email comes in. But anything heavy duty that requires background operations, is best left to a desktop or notebook device like a Macbook pro. A next gen iPad like the iPhone may see multitasking introduced

·         No replaceable battery

You’ll be charged $99 and get a new iPad after about 3 years. It keeps the unit light to have a non-user replaced battery, and third parties will bring out battery extenders as exist now for the iPhone.

·         No HDMI support, no USB support

It has the 30pin USB adaptor. There are better ways to watch TV than hook up an iPad via HDMI. Really, a non issue for most users of an iPad.

·         It’s incapable of tethering to your iPhone’s data plan meaning you have to pay twice as much for 2 separate plans

We don’t know yet pricing for the iPad. Premature to worry about data fees just yet. Might add $15/month extra to run it.

So there you have it, and I imagine many naysayers will have similar concerns as this young man pointed it to his mother, although the more I read of them the more I wonder if he’s simply gone to a PC magazine website and plagiarised the negatives, you know, “Ten worst things about the iPad (even though we haven’t toughed one yet, and we’re just going on specs and kinda what we said about the iPhone in 2007).

At this point, I am more than happy to have such challenges thrown at me to help sharpen up my own way of thinking how I’m going to use the iPad. In the next week or so, you can expect similar thinking about out of the box uses, plus those that will startle us, with the usual headslapping, “Of course!”, which is the reaction all good magic-like products compel in us.

So here are my thoughts, without yet getting my hands on it, as to how I might use the iPad in a professional psychology setting, as well as (as an addendum to be added to once I actually see how Keynote works) how to use it as a Presentation tool.

1. Intake: Patients waiting to meet me can fill in questionnaires or biographical information (much of it radio buttons or tick boxes) or using the built in or outrigger keyboard. In the future, a pend device for handwriting might become available.

2. Billing: As of now, many patients make direct payment using their internet banking or via PayPal if using credit cards. Just like iccpay.com, I imagine we’ll see similar instant credit card payment systems evolve for the iPad.

3. Patient database management, using an evolved form of Bento or a specific Numbers template which is easily transferred back to the Macbook Pro.

4. Showing educational movies, either on the iPad itself or via a USB or wireless connection to a TV or data projector.

5. Testing: I can see a number of specialist psychological testing outfits developing normed tests for use with children and adults on the iPad.

6. Distractor for children: Sometimes, a child in a session needs to be kept occupied when parents are the subject of interview, and the iPad with its games will be great for this. The last thing I want to give them is my Macbook Pro.

7. Information to read about their disorder or malady, which can then be printed out at will. Yes, it can be done on the Macbook Pro, but it’s always hooked up to monitors, backup drives and my iPhone and isn’t moveable during a session. Much easier simply to give a patient the iPad to read.

8. Make audio recording of the session. I record all sessions (patients remember about 10% of a sessions content) and from the iPad the AAC or mp3 file is emailed to them. Again, it can be done on the Macbook Pro using an external microphone like a Blue Snowball.

9. Specialised measuring tools, such as biofeedback devices like the emWave I now use to monitor heart rate variability, useful in stress management and arousal modulation. If patients get their own iPads with the software (possibly in development now), practise the techniques I’ve taught, and theit data can hopefully be transferred to my main database for comparisons and expose improvements over time.

10. A miniature whiteboard using Keynote to highlight ideas and demonstrate concepts.

These are just a few ideas thrown together without too much effort. Once the ball is rolling and the first of a new generation of apps of released, no doubt surprising us with their look, feel and innovation, the ball will start rolling and the penny dropping. For myself, I can see workshops ahead for using the iPad in professional health consulting, and hopefully hooking up with developers with a psychology interest to create new apps.

I think we are all, including Steve Jobs and the Apple staff, to discover how users will bring the iPad to bear on solving their problems better than current solutions.

As Bloomberg News’ Olga Kharif has reported today,

Professionals in health care and education as well as students will probably be among the biggest purchasers of the iPad, Mr. Wolf (an analyst at Needham & Co.) said. More than 30% of 178 health-care workers surveyed in January by Software Advice, an online software vendor, said they were “very likely” to buy a tablet. George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., said on its Web site that it will give each incoming freshman a choice of an iPad or a MacBook, also made by Apple, starting with the 2010-2011 academic year.”

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15 responses to “Thinking about the iPad in a professional psychology practice – in response to a fifteen year old’s dissing of it as useless

  1. I have iPad naysayers read http://joehewitt.com. Since Joe is former lead engineer on Firefox and currently works for Facebook, what he has to say carries far more weight than the ignorant, bigoted, throwaway opinions of many blowhards who diss the iPad even though they tehmselves have no software development experience or ability.

  2. While I agree with most of your points, I do think the lack of multitasking is limiting.

    Case in point: Apple is releasing Keynote for iPad, I create presentations on a regular basis with lots of images and often think of new ideas while creating presentations.

    I either would have to collect all images before creating the presentations or I would have to open and close the presentation multiple times while searching for new images with Safari or another webbrowser.

    I do hope the iPad (and iPhone/iPod touch) will offer multitasking in the future because it would make some tasks much easier

  3. Charles Jenkins

    Yeah, the poor kid has read the same list of phony drawbacks plagiarized by a lot of websites–except for the “all text to the left” thing. Who knows where that came from. Unfortunately, it seems that iBooks, like Amazon’s Kindle, fully justifies text, making both the left and right edges line up and making the result look terrible for reading. Hopefully, the ability to turn on left-justification will quickly be added to iBooks.

    Flash is on its way out, thank goodness, and Apple products should help it out the door.

    Guus, I haven’t touched an iPad yet, but your problem sounds like something Apple would have already considered and probably solved. I bet there is an image browser built into Keynote; or if not, it will save your spot while you pop into another app.

  4. What I often see among the iPad’s dismissers is a lack of imagination. They can only see what they are used to and they compare the iPad to the markets they know.

    The iPad is something new; it is not a NetBook or a notebook computer. It is an interactive clipboard.

    I keep reminding people that over half of Americans still do not use computers now. These are people who think that computers are too hard to use.

    The iPad will change that perception. This will open up new markets for Apple where the PC’ manufacturers cannot go.

  5. I think you give the 15-year-old too much credit. That’s not a well-thought-out response, it’s cut and paste from someone unfamiliar with Apple products.

    • Yes, as I allude to in my post, it could as easily be a cut and paste job, given the inaccuracies. What I found intriguing is that the family is discussing these technologies, and of course, the 15 year old is included, if not referred to… But as we see in many teenagers, things can be very black and white, and considered thought takes time to develop. So, either a Mac fanboy or a windows devotee and ne’er the twain shall meet. The mother has indeed asked the son about the iPad before my workshop, and was emboldened to ask me about it (in contravention to his warnings) when I showed a developer demo and gave it my sight-unseen imprimatur. Time will tell if I or the 15 year old was the more accurate!

  6. “The iPhone has been out 3 years already – have you heard of any malware for it? No.”

    Actually, yes.

    The iPhone — structurally, the iPad, too — is vulnerable to web sites that embed malicious elements that can take over the device by exploiting flaws in Safari. See this week’s news.

    Of course, it’s hardly impossible to slip a fast one by the App Store reviewers, too.

    Nothing is absolute in this one-and-zero world, except that we care about probabilities and damage.

    Regards multi-tasking, I encourage you to broaden your thinking. Apple uses a LOT of it on the iPhone — the device would be useless w/o multi-tasking. It’s just that multi-tasking isn’t made available to 3rd-party developers, which is a bit of a shame since there are all sorts of ideas like background SiriusXM, monitoring changes in the local environment (friends, bluetooth devices), etc. that Apple hasn’t deigned to treat as a core function.

  7. I’m just chomping at the bit to respond.
    I read through all the responses.
    I’m ready.
    But… Glenn got there before me!
    I would think that, as a psychologist, that the boy’s type of response – as seen in many blog responders, adult and child (and hard to tell the difference!) – would be concerning. It seems to be the contemporary equivalent to thinking! And these people vote!

  8. The obvious thing to do is to put that list in a drawer and give it back to the boy next year when he asks for an iPad.

  9. I’m not surprised. I mean, 15 is old enough to be the tech guru in the house. Heck, by the time he’s 13, he should be the one who knows how to run the VCR, etc.

    As for tethering, that’s really up to your wireless carrier. In the US, where tethering from an iPhone is not yet available, then it’s not going to tether. But there’s no reason why it won’t tether to a cellphone capable of it. And if you live in a country that allows tethering, what would stop you from tethering your iPad? Do any of the Aussie carries allow tethering to the iPhone?

    And, I hope their is a media browser built into Keynote, like they have in the desktop version. The other reason why multitasking is less of an issue on the iPad is supposed to be its speed. If your device is so fast that opening and closing apps is immaterial, then multitasking becomes less important. Proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we’ll just have to wait a bit more.

    • There is a media browser built in to iPad’s Keynote. Locate the “Apple releases iPad’ podcast in iTunes music store (the January 27 keynote) and go to 1hr 1min 30 sec to see the photo section, and note the “media” tab.

  10. Hi Les, this very informative post was written last year. Over the past 12 months, I wonder if you have since discovered additional applications for the ipad in your practice setting. Has a hand writing tool been created? How would you also see the ipad applied to work of other contexts, like psychologists who work in schools? Are there specific aps you could recommend when working with clients?

    • Hi Kelly,

      At the APS Conference in Canberra next month, I’m doing a workshop (half-day) on IT and psychologists and will feature iPad use in practice settings, and how I have to come to use it after 15 mo of ownership, and awaiting iPad 3 in March/April 2012… will let you know my thoughts in a month or so…

      Les

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  12. Pingback: If a dumb shmo like me sitting in far away Australia got it so right about the iPad in 2010, why didn’t those smarties on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley see the future too? And still can’t… | Les Posen's Presentation Magic

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