The Web Was Meant to be Touched

I’m an early adopter. You’ll often find me walking around the QuickBase offices talking about or playing with the latest gadgets from the likes of Apple, Google, Sony, and Microsoft. My natural bias is to take an unproven technology and see how quickly I can integrate it into my life. Sometimes it works out great…other times it crashes and burns.

It’s hard to avoid the buzz around the new wave of tablets hitting the market this year. With the iPad 2 launch a few weeks ago (I was in line at my local Apple store to get my hands on it first) the excitement is building, and for good reason. For those who follow the consumer electronic circuit, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was overrun by all kinds of new web tablet devices from a large array of manufactures. Many won’t ever make it to market but the RIM Playbook, HP TouchPad, and the commodity tablets powered by Google’s Android operating system are sure to pour more fuel on this already roaring fire. They all share something very much in common with the iPad – a full featured HTML5 capable web browser powered by WebKit – allowing almost ubiquitous usage of the sites we rely on to do our business, research, and keep in touch with colleagues, family and friends on the go.

I always believed in the power of the mobile tablet. I suppose my vision of what these things were supposed to be started as a child watching episodes of Star Trek: small and light with big, clear screens; simple but powerful user interfaces, fast startup, never ending battery life, and controlled entirely by touch. Last year, I waited in line with in the masses in front of a Boston area Apple store to be one of the first to get my hands on an iPad. The very first thing that I did once I was able to step foot into the store was to see how well interacting with many of my day-to-day web sites (including QuickBase) was on the device. I sometimes cringe a little at Apple’s hyperbole, but holding the web in your hands is indeed magical. As it turned out, for a very large majority of the work I need to do each day – the iPad browser isn’t only good enough…it has been spot on!

For me, the web tablet is a way to more easily leverage the value of the cloud within my daily routine. It makes the things I rely on the cloud to do for me that much more convenient. The first thing I do when my alarm goes off in the morning is reach for my iPad and quickly scan through the QuickBase users experience reports from the prior day and get myself grounded on what’s important. As I’m walking the halls of QuickBase, instead of just talking about that great presentation I found and promising to email it to a colleague, I can slide my finger across my trusty tablet and share it with them right away. All of my meeting notes are stored and kept in sync and easily shared via the iPad’s note app (I’m exploring other options like Evernote if you have opinions please do share). At QuickBase project stand-ups I can jump quickly into a Project Manager Plus QuickBase and silently enter a thought I’ll need later on a critical task.

It’s clear that the web was meant to be touched. This is great for SaaS products like QuickBase and it’s great for users too. It’s simple, it’s natural, it’s personal, and one thing is for sure…it’s definitely for me!

Do you have a tablet? How has your tablet changed how you utilize cloud computing and/or QuickBase in your daily life?


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  • Anyone have suggestions for great cloud connected note taking apps? Evernote is interesting but drops all formatting when you edit on the iPad/iPhone. I would love something that has some rich text editing capabilities across the iPad/Web/Desktop.

    • Cheryl Mackenzie

      I use “Awesome Notes”.

      • Thanks so much for the suggestion. I didn’t come across this one while I was searching the App Store for contenders. I’ll check this out. Looks promising.

      • I grabbed Awesome Note for iPad last night and took it for a spin. This thing has alot of great features and is beautifuly designed, more importantly it does have the option to sync with Google Doc’s & Evernote. But oddly, it doesn’t seem to handle all the content of notes with grace when you sync them (evernote notes get mangled on the way in and out) and it doesn’t export all data to Evernote or Google Docs that it has in the native app. So Location & drawings don’t get moved over.

        I’m going to give this a shot for a while and see if i end up doing alot of Location tagging or Drawings (i’m guessing i won’t) but from a history standpoint, the folks who build it seem to rev the product often and I bet are hard at work on cleaning up their sync strategy.

        Thanks so much for the suggestion! I’m looking forward to giving this a good old college try.

  • Cheryl Mackenzie

    I have had one issue with QuickBase on my iPad. I would like to be able to do more application development work on the fly through my iPad. When working with a client on an app, it would be nice to be able to change things right there not being on my laptop. It seems that some functionality works but not all. Am I correct on this assumption or am I just hitting a glitch?

    • Cheryl, That’s a good call out. I love using QuickBase on the iPad but I haven’t spent much time building apps on the device (i will try one out tonight).

      When QuickBase started to optimize our interfaces for compatibility with iPhone/iPad, we focused on things that made QuickBase accessable on the go for end users. I think what you’ve called out is in fact an artifact of us optimizing the interface to ensure users could use already built applications on the go vs. the administration side of the app.

      I’m sure you have some great ideas on how this could be beter and I would like to make sure that we log the areas you feel are key for us to expand support in over time as we look at improving our mobile strategy. Are there key features in the application build process that don’t work today that you would like to see prioritized for on the go editing of apps? Is there a dream way you could envision building an app with your fingers vs what you do today with a mouse & keyboard?

  • Kyle — Here’s an article on how tablets are driving the “consumerization of IT.” Interesting stuff considering QuickBase adoption at a company is driven in a similar way:

    Tablets are our friends 🙂


    • Great article Alex! Thanks for the link. I totally agree that QuickBase adoption tends to have the same lifecycle.

      One thing that I take exception to is the notion that new features cause undue stress on IT organizations. I think in the old world of IT 1.0 where it took an equivalent of an Einstein to get some of the most basic things accomplished. Enterprise 2.0 powered by SaaS is so successful specifically because of ease of use. By asserting control over every feature of a SaaS offering (take QuickBase Application Creation for instance) that your team can use – the team itself isn’t truly empowered to help IT by solving important business problems for themselves in the fastest way possible.

      I look back at when the iPhone was released in 2007, and the cry of the IT 1.0 folks was “that thing can’t be on my network”. The Enterprise 2.0 minded folks just let their teams give it a shot and learned that all that new functionality on the iPhone caused less burden on the IT staff than supporting their blackberry gateways and walking their employee’s through cumbersome and down right clumsy UI’s to get their work done. Fast forward to today, not only is the iPhone found everywhere, but the iPad was welcomed onboard to those same corp networks very quickly.

      It’s been a fun journey… and for SaaS and Enterprise 2.0 it’s just started! Exciting times!