When Apple announced its latest innovation, the iPad, many education experts hoped the tablet would breathe new life into the e-textbook industry. It has the potential to compete with other e-book devices like Amazon’s Kindle, but it won’t live up to expectations.
Online textbooks are one way to save money and paper, but new technology is needed to make them more accessible and accepted on college campuses.
Since it was announced in January, the device has received countless criticisms. Apple’s hype may have backfired as the product turned out to be less than what people expected.
Its price ranges from $499 to $829, and Internet access is available for a monthly fee. Books, of course, can only be purchased through the Apple Store. The iPad doesn’t allow for multitasking, so students can’t open up a browser while reading, and it has no handwriting capabilities, according to PC World.
The device’s Internet capabilities are also hampered by Apple’s refusal to support Adobe Flash, even though it’s installed on 98 percent of Internet-connected computers, according to Adobe. The Flash player is also used for more than 75 percent of all Web videos and 90 percent of interactive ads.
Not to mention, the iPad just looks awkward. With its 9.7-inch screen, it’s too large to be considered handheld. Laying it flat on a desk puts the screen at an odd angle for users to see. And Apple has not done enough to improve its previous devices, making this oversized iPhone little more than a novelty.
Because of its limitations, the iPad doesn’t compare to regular computers when it comes to digital reading. Its portability is not enough of a selling point to make up for the inability to multitask. Students are better off using laptops to read e-books.
The iPad may not even compare to old-fashioned print textbooks in the eyes of students. Print is still the medium of choice for 75 percent of students, according to the national Student Public Interest Research Groups.
Too much screen reading can hurt people’s eyes, and a print book is portable, durable and straightforward to navigate.
The iPad is not a complete loss, though. It may be an important step in paving the way for an ideal e-reader. Still, colleges should hold off on getting behind the iPad craze – at least for now.