Chances are (if you’re reading this blog) you know about the launch of the Apple iPad. Perhaps you’re curious about its potential for use in a ministry context? Perhaps you have a strong opinion (for or against) based on your technological preference? I own one. Here are my initial thoughts:
The iPad makes your research tools more accessible. Logos has a version for the iPad which gives you access to your books in the iPad form factor. This is one step closer to the resolution of the debate between paper vs. digital commentaries. PDF documents are common in pastoral libraries. Many of the original sources have been converted to PDF thanks the ceaseless work of the people at Ages Digital Library and other groups such as CCEL. I like to print out my PDFs and mark them up with a yellow highlighter and red pen. iAnnotate for the iPad gives you the same functionality with the ability to correlate your annotations for easy reference when you’re trying to remember where you got that incredible quote or illustration from. Another neat feature in iAnnotate is the ability to open multiple PDFs in a tabbed interface allowing for cross referencing. The convergence of Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, B&N eReader, and free programs like Stanza onto one device is a great benefit for book lovers. I’m reading Os Guiness’ The Call through Kindle and a book on the history of China through B&N.
The iPad can change the context of your working environment. The evangelists of the Great Awakening used to study and pray on horseback. Ministers now have the opportunity with a form factor that fits somewhere between a traditional notepad and a smart phone. I see a lot of benefit in the prepaid 3G plans for Australian readers. It allows you to use the Internet and email in the native form factor when you are out of the office.
Taking notes on the iPad produces mixed results. As a touch typist, I find that if I trust the flat interface it produces excellent results. At this point I am still double guessing myself as my hammer-fingers look for some form of tacticity on the glass screen. I might get used to it – but the Bluetooth keyboard is a great addition.
Most of the ministers that I know adopted some form of PDA (palm, pocket pc, etc) prior to the adoption of smartphones. I don’t think that you can classify the iPad in the same category. Give it a try and let’s get some more ministry-related feedback on its potential. I’ll be happy to answer your specific questions as well. By the way – don’t think that the iPad will magically cure daydreaming, tiredness or difficult textual problems. It’s only a tool.