The iPad has a plethora of apps which make it useful (or pointless) in a number of different ways. But with just a few inbuilt apps, I have found the iPad to be an excellent party device, allowing my friends and I to choose and share music, take photos as well as browse past albums, and update our Facebook statuses, all from (what feels like) a piece of glass. The iPad also keeps the technology accessible so that no-one is self involved with their iPod, camera, or phone, and everyone socialises on a more realistic level.
Now, when I say that the iPad is the perfect party companion, you probably are imagining a party full of geeks and nerds. However we are anything but with teachers, engineers, nutritionists, sales representatives, and footy players making the weekly trip to someones townhouse to celebrate the end of yet another gruelling working week (as we all live together in a row of townhouses, this is not such a big trek). As anyone would know, the staple of every party is drink, food, and music, yet my friends and I have added another onto that, the iPad.
Paired up with a bluetooth speaker and WiFi connection, it can access and play music off of everyone’s iTunes library on the network, meaning we have instant access to gigabytes upon gigabytes of music. On the odd occasion that no-one has the music we are looking for, a simple YouTube search allows us to bring up the music video, so we can listen to anything and everything we want. The sound quality on the iPad 3 is OK, however the volume is pathetic. Streaming to a bluetooth speaker means we get a beefy and enjoyable level of volume of music with through a wireless connection at all times. The speaker also has an inbuilt battery, so we can take the music and party with us outside, or to another townhouse with great ease. Long gone are the days of hooking up an iPod playlist to a stereo and lugging around a laptop, or even, using a CD (gasp!). We can easily enjoy the music we want to listen to, while moving around the house as the iPad will still be connected to the speaker.
The camera on the iPad 3 is a great improvement over the iPad 2, but that doesn’t mean it is in any way spectacular. I promise you though, that the camera on the iPad 3 is sufficient enough to take photos of the night, in a quality that is suitable for this sort of occasion. With the music still pumping via bluetooth, we can run around and snap away with the cameras on the iPad and instantly share them on Facebook or email/iMessage them to others. Photostream with iCloud enables my iPhone to get in on the action, taking photos with flash and having them show up on the iPad for everyone to see and share almost instantly.
Obviously, the iPad is not the only tablet out there that can do all this. Any tablet that has Bluetooth, WiFi and a camera is perfectly capable of doing everything I have written about above, and more. The reason I wanted to point all of these functions out, is that a tablet enables us to them what we would have needed a multitude to devices for, and it can do them more efficiently in a party environment. Not to long ago I can recall having a CD player with 20-30 CDs, being swapped and scratched in another room to a party. If we wanted to check out a YouTube video, we would have to start up the computer and wait for it to come alive. Before the digital camera, pictures would only be taken on special occasions, and even then, would still be a hassle to share and make accessible to others. But the major improvement I have seen with the iPad, is how we all interact with each other while there.
Some people disagree with using Facebook, YouTube and other similar online sites when in the company of others, but I think when you have an iPad this becomes a group activity, on a communal screen. Gone are the days at our house parties where people are crowding over their phones texting and Facebooking, choosing songs to play, and constantly swapping devices attached to the speaker. Having a communal screen enables us to be more sociable, and focus on what really is in front of us, apart from who is on the other end of our phone.
After all, technology must be with most of us at all times now and often we can feel naked without it. One thing I have noticed though is that when the technology and conversation is there for all to see and access, the technology becomes invisible. This is why I believe that if technology is going to be present at a party anytime soon, you may as well make it something that is easily accessible to all, can be passed around the house without having any detrimental effects on its operation, and is not too involving so that anyone who gets their mitts on it suddenly loses touch with what is around them. This is why I think the iPad can be the perfect party companion.