Daily Archives: March 25, 2010

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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