Post-PC era, indeed

Like every year, our family got together for a zoo of a Christmas celebration on Sunday in Germantown, WI. This year, the high school daughter of an extended family member—let’s call her Annette for the sake of this story—brought along her iPad 2 and almost never put it down.

Our Christmas gathering is quite the spectacle, typically bringing in at least 25 members, partners, and extended family. This year we had 35 people, including 11 children all under the age of 8. I noticed Annette carried her iPad and stylus with her almost everywhere in the house, and since she didn’t know many of us very well yet, she had plenty of moments of downtime amid the catching-up chaos to doodle in a drawing app and play a couple games.

I finally caught a chance to introduce myself to Annette and ask about her iPad. She said she absolutely loved it but she doesn’t just use it for doodling and games. Annette is a high school senior and she rents most of her school textbooks in a couple of iPad apps. If a textbook isn’t available to rent, she buys it in the Kindle or iBooks app using her grandparent’s account (with their blessing, of course). Besides drawing, Annette uses the stylus to take all her class notes because she’s not happy writing with her finger.

She also doesn’t pay much attention to paid apps unless they have a free version she can try out first. She’s happy to buy apps and showed me some. But not one was purchased without downloading the free version, “because what if I don’t like it?”

Interestingly, Annette said she didn’t miss having a notebook at all (the kind that needs a battery and a startup jingle, not the kind bound with a useless slinky). She can’t wait to get to college and, while she hasn’t settled on a major, she doesn’t see a notebook in her future. “If I end up needing to do a ton more typing in college than I do now,” Annette said, “I might get a wireless keyboard.

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