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Comment: Apple's very personal post-PC paradigm
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Jun 2, 2014, 01:45 AM
As all eyes shift to Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference for 2014, it is a good opportunity to take stock of where Apple is and where it is headed. In the few short years following the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, Apple has helped to radically reshape personal computing by making it more personal than ever before. However, in the post-PC paradigm, personal computers which were once at the center of our digital lives have now been supplanted by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It is around these devices that our digital lives now primarily revolve, and powered by the cloud, many of us no longer need to rely on personal computers any more.

It was not that long ago that Steve Jobs and Apple placed the iMac at the center of our digital lives. How things have changed in little more than a decade. In Apple's post-PC paradigm, ordinary people are now carrying tremendous amounts of personal computing power in the palm of their hands and in their pockets and handbags. We no longer need personal computers to manage our photos or our music collections, while we can edit documents and are empowered to undertake all types of creativity on the go. As Apple's current marketing campaign for the iPhone proposes, "You are more powerful than you think." As a society, we have become personally attached to our smartphones and tablets, often identifying ourselves with our choice of brand and the user experience on offer. Smartphones and tablets couldn't be more at the center of our lives, or more personal than they already are - or could they?

If the rumor mill is correct, a tent pole feature of iOS 8 will be a new health-centered app called Healthbook . Like the M7 motion-coprocessor in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, it is quite possible that Apple will open the API to third-party developers and hardware makers to tap into the burgeoning wearable health tracking devices boom that is currently revolutionizing the way we stay fit and healthy. It also seems likely, that this will form the basis of Apple's long-rumored push into the wearable devices market itself, with the expected arrival of an Apple iWatch later this year. The iWatch is widely expected to have multiple sensors that are capable of tracking a wide range of health indicators. There are few things we value more than our health, and putting health at the center of the capabilities of the iPhone makes it even more personal than it already is.

The potential for such a health tracking and monitoring system is huge. For example, the technology to track blood sugars in wearables already exists, making real-time tracking, collection and monitoring of this data possible. As someone who lives with Type II diabetes, I know that I could benefit tremendously from this, as could my health practitioner who will have a wealth of data on my overall activity as well. Coupled with the power of iCloud, this data could even be pushed to my doctor in the background and alert him or her if there was something that needed attention. This could lead to much better management of my condition, and more personally tailored treatment than ever before. If I depended on my iPhone before this, my very well-being could depend on it moving into the near future. There is nothing more personal than that.

The rumor mill for WWDC also suggests that Apple is about to unveil a new home-based MFI platform. While only expected to be a certification program, its arrival is yet another example of Apple's post-PC paradigm where iOS-powered devices take a central role. It is quite likely that (let's call it 'HomePlay') will leverage Apple's AirPlay technology to allow users to control various smart devices around the house, ranging from lighting to home appliances and other devices including thermostats, air conditioning and home security systems. It might even all you to control, dare I say it, the mythical Apple TV along with other certified home entertainment devices. Again, powered by iCloud, your iPhone or iPad will be at the center of HomePlay, allowing you to remotely monitor and control your home. Like everything that Apple has ever done in the technology space, it will make it a very user-friendly way of improving the quality of your life through technology.

There has been a lot of public pressure on Apple to deliver ground breaking new hardware. The reality is that it is only just getting started with its post-PC plans and its plans for developing the iOS ecosystem are really only now beginning to take shape. Not only do these plans no longer revolve solely around iTunes, they will help to make the iOS platform 'stickier' than ever. By putting iPhone and iPad at the center of people's lives from music, to photos, to productivity and creativity, and now to health, the home (and our cars with CarPlay), it will not only keep people buying iPhones and iPads long into the future, it will also help to drive adoption moving forward. If Apple is also able to roll in some new devices in new categories moving forward, it will be icing on the cake. Apple's post-PC future is looking great, and it will succeed by making personal computing truly personal.

By Sanjiv Sathiah
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jun 2, 2014 at 05:31 AM. )
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Jun 2, 2014, 09:16 AM
The most important thing that my iPad and iPhone have taught me is the value of my desktop computer with its keyboard, mouse and two large displays. I can get far more done on it in less time than I can trying to push a complex task through the limited user interface of a touch device. I create complicated books on my desktop with ease. On my iPhone, anything more complex than timing a nap or listening to a podcast is a nuisance. The difference is so obvious, I do as much of my mobile device management (i.e. iTunes) on my desktop as I can. To give but one illustration, compare multi-item drag-and-drop with a mouse on a large screen with its equivalent on an iPhone.
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
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Jun 2, 2014, 09:21 AM
It's called the Blue Ocean strategy. And Nintendo has already been doing it.
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Jun 2, 2014, 10:08 AM
@Inkling: Of course you can get more done on something you are used to that has a great deal of real estate to work with. I am sad to hear though that you haven't learned to use a new way of doing things and have only managed to time your frequent naps but it is encouraging that you have managed to learn about podcasts and even play them on that new fangled tablet thingy. I hope you can move along with the new millennium technologies though and expand your intellectual capacity to try other task on the iDevices. Give it a whorl.
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Jun 2, 2014, 10:11 AM
Inkling: Your point is well taken and is correct on a computational perspective. However, what the iPhone/iPad allow you to do is to take this to another level. What your desktop cannot do is receive a call in travel, take a picture at any location, determine social and situational options based on location, advise on surrounding circumstances during your movements, etc...all accomplished with a single, ergonomic device.

While indeed there are limitations in the efficiency and even productivity of using an iPhone for similar tasks on a desktop (or even laptop), it's the versatility of where, when & how this can now be accomplished that makes the post-PC technology so much more rewarding.
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Jun 2, 2014, 11:29 AM
Good related article on NPR. Search With Beats, Apple Buys A Quick Start On Smart Headphones. That's headphones as sensors, not simply speakers.
What if ... Apple sees Beats Music as a footnote, a clause in the agreement? Why? Tunes, games, shows, books, apps—public content was king and that king is dead.
The next big deal is private content. Mirrors trump windows. Selfies were the first hint. Our health, wealth, relationships, careers are the new content. Now we are the content.
Ergo, the next wave in consumer tech is nearables (sensors that gather information around us) connected with farables (servers that give information context and depth), connected through hubbles that control the flow and keep info secure.
Security, confidentiality and privacy will be a big battle. Search security 446 gibson.
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Jun 2, 2014, 11:36 AM
As of right now, Inkling is correct for the kind of work described. For me it's using multiple spread sheets at one time. While at work I use my iPad (3rd generation) which is very appropriate for that environment. When I get home I use my iMac to update 5 or so spreadsheets using the spreadsheet I used at work for data via iCloud.

However, just because that's how it is NOW doesn't mean that will never change. The only constant is change. If Numbers gets to a place where I could easily maneuver through a larger screen with multiple open spreadsheets, I could most likely do all my work at work easily. Heck, a virtual 4k display with an OSX style interface could work on a tablet if the hardware is sophisticated enough to keep things smooth and the touch interface is done 'right.'
Even when all that is done right, it's going to be hard to replace a physical keyboard.Dictation is okay but always a little off and not always a viable option. Also, when working with numbers dictation isn't ideal either.
So yes, right now there are a lot of things that are easier on a desktop, but that's now. You know what else we have now? The ability to manipulate documents on multiple platforms. Now that we can do this it's only a matter of time before some of those platforms get better at it. I'm also skeptical that a smaller screen will completely replace a larger screen for some things, but at the least they'll get better and better at it. At some point we'll have our phone and a pair of glasses with a virtual 4k display! Oh, and a keyboard I guess my point is that there's not much written in stone at this point. Well, except that in 5 years how we create, manipulate and consume (maybe what we create/manipulate and consume) will be different.
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Jun 2, 2014, 11:57 AM
It sounds like Inkling wants a MacBook Air, not an iPad.

Mistake number one is assuming that the iPad is a portable version of your desktop computer. It's not. It's a different way to consume and create some of the content you consume and create on your desktop, scaled for portability and differing input mechanisms. If you go into the iPad with the notion that you're going to do the same things as you do on your desktop in the same ways with the same peripherals in the same fashion and the same applications, you're gonna have a bad time.

The iPad is not "your desktop computer, on the go." That's a laptop.
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