Today’s mass excitement gave us the iPad… Apple’s bigger than a iPod, smaller than a MacBook multi-touch internet device. I’m sure millions of nerds worldwide spun their brains about how this device will work for their game books. I don’t like carrying around a ton of books, and I would be quite happy with an ebook reader that was both in color (for all the pretty pictures of monsters) and of large enough screen size, a test which the iPad passes. I hope Wizards brings official iBooks to this device and that those books will support a reasonable search. The printed book indicies are barely useful, and I hate page flipping in the middle of the game.
A tablet also seems like a nice compromise between accessing tools (such as the d20SRD for 3.5 or D&D Compendium for 4e) and not being a laptop. Laptops at the table have physically separate you from the action on the table and the rest of the players. I enjoy the i4e iPhone/iPod app for managing a 4e character at the table, and I hope they make one for the iPad. There’s a lot i4e doesn’t do and its screens are tight…but a larger screen is precisely what it needs; all the tables can be fit side-by-side on screen, so you’re not constantly navigating during a combat.
I think the multi-touch aspect too will provide for a lot of useful tools such as combat and initiative trackers, dice rolling apps, and I really hope, interactive maps. I don’t think its quite big enough for use as a combat surface, they way those CMU Microsoft Surface demos have shown, but that’s fine. If everyone at the table had one, it’d be great for “passing notes” or sharing information like treasure lists or stats.
I actually have a ton of ideas on this subject, a iPhone developer account, and a lot of experience putting together good gaming UIs. Unfortunately I don’t have a ton of time to devote to the project. If anyone out there knows of projects looking for help or want to get something started, let me know.