Less than a week after the much anticipated TouchPad arrived in our lives, HP announced it was getting out of the tablet wars in a hurry. That part of me that is given to dry and dark humour made me think I must have killed the TouchPad. After all, I thought both Beta and HDDVD made more sense than the video formats that became popular.
When I stopped chuckling, texting and tweeting about killing the TouchPad, I realized that the hard part was about to begin. I have a tablet that no one will write any more apps for and I really wanted to have a TouchPad because I really liked my touchscreen notebook from HP. That would be the one that my twins love to draw on. The same one that survived a sudden stop on a concrete train platform and the kids still liked to draw on despite the huge crack in the screen.
Earlier this year, I tweeted a random musing that it would be interesting to test a Playbook, iPad and TouchPad with my autistic son. An Apple fan, BlackFish, wrote back to say it wasn’t about the devices, it was all about the apps.
It is all about the apps, no question. In that category, Apple wins hands down. The variety and number of apps that can be used by kids on the spectrum not just for the iPad, but also for the iPhone and iPod shows just how important tablets have become for asd families.
People like Shannon Rosa among others have demonstrated how valuable the iPad is for our special kids.
My original musing about testing tablets had a glaring omission. I often forget about tablets powered by Android, but a lot of apps have been developed for special needs for that system. Instead of thinking about comparing a Playbook, I really should have thought about an Android tablet, but I keep forgetting about them.
Any developer who wants to make money and do things that are going to have the biggest bang is going to write code for either a machine running iOS or Android.
Where does that leave those million and a bit folks who ran out to buy the TouchPad at $99 or $149? It’s not about the apps for those folks. At the fire sale prices, quite a few people realized they might be able to get one of those magical tablety thingees without knowing it’s all about the apps. Did they make a mistake because not all tablets are equal?
Yes and no and yes, I really do see both sides of most issues.
Yes, they made a mistake because a tablet is a little like a water meter. You need one to get water into the house, but it has to be connected to water. That’s my mutilated metaphor to suggesting that tablets are like utilities. If there’s no source they are not much good.
On the other hand, no, folks didn’t necessarily make a mistake because a recent look at the webOS app catalog shows that apps are still being developed. There was certainly a lot of talk before HP pulled the plug on tablets that developers loved webOS and afterwards many were a little ticked that the plug was pulled so unceremoniously.
The price cut actually may have helped encourage some development. The number of Touchpads sold at those low prices did what the HP marketing couldn’t do: it moved large numbers of tablets in a short period of time. It almost looked like the stampedes accompanying a new Apple launch.
Just by the numbers, HP produced what was the 2nd bestselling tablet for a time and provided evidence that people wanted a tablet that cost lest that an iPad.
So, the morning after discount TouchPads were unwrapped, people started wondering how to use them to help their kids and were disappointed. A google search of apps shows very few that are relevant. Trolling around the app catalog doesn’t reveal many more. Nonetheless there at a few things that be can be done regardless of an abundance of apps if we think about the TouchPad in the following ways:
- The TouchPad makes for a great reward for task completion
- They can assist with normally difficult transistions or tasks
- Excellent for turn-taking
- Great when redirection is needed
- Can be used to reinforce ’cause and affect play’