Saturday, March 5, 2011

iPad 2: Digital Media Becomes A Conversation

At first glance, the new iPad 2 appears to be a combination of already-existing technologies in a superior, user-friendly design - a fairly typical Apple product.  That may be an accurate description, but this particular package of features might also provide a new vision of what digital media can and will become.

If you want to get an orientation on Apple's new tablet, check out this video.  It's worth watching.  In the meantime, here's a quick summary of the new features:
  • Two cameras, front and back, to give simultaneously looks at the user and the user's environment. 
  • The ability to tether the tablet to a television to provide a 1080p view of whatever is on the iPad.
  • Faster processor to provide smoother, higher quality video.
  • Improved display.
  • Removable "smart" cover that protects the display, turns the device on and off and folds up to hold the device in two different orientations.
  • Great battery life.
  • Flatter, smoother design.
Ok, all of that is great, but each of those features has appeared on various other devices.  So why do I think this is a landmark moment in the evolution of digital media?  Until now, the iPad has been used primarily as a means of accessing robust media without being anchored to a stationary screen.  It allowed you to take your media with you in a size and quality that didn't feel like a compromise.

Now, with the cameras and tethering capability, it is suddenly more of a fully interactive 1080p experience.  High definition, user-generated, real-time video going back and forth between the iPad and the TV.  It's morphed from a primarily passive device to a much more active device in one generation.

From here, it is only a small leap before the wired connection between the iPad and television becomes a wireless connection.  Then it will become an IP addressable connection and the distance between the iPad and the TV becomes irrelevant.  When that happens, whatever I'm doing can be captured from two angles and placed on any television in the world.  Or any ten televisions, or any million televisions.  It's just a question of speed and bandwidth.  Suddenly, I am broadcasting real time high definition images to the world.

In that environment, tablet users are no longer just watching; they are creating and participating and infinitely connected and engaged with one another.  That is a completely different paradigm than watching YouTube videos while taking a walk.

Are you seeing this vision of  the kind of access we'll have?  Instead of watching pictures of a young student facing down a tank in Tiananmen Square, we will see what he sees, and watch the expression on his face as it is happening. It becomes a first-person experience, not a second-person story.  And in more mundane applications, we will be able to share any moment of our lives simultaneously with relatives in different countries.  We will walk a group of shareholders through our new facility in Hong Kong while they each sit in their own living room.  We'll be at our kids' shows, events, games -- anything at all, and share it immediately with anyone and everyone who is interested in seeing it.

In that new paradigm, technology serves to connect us in ways that we could never be connected before.  It bridges gaps and brings us together instead of isolating us.

Am I naive or ridiculously over-optimistic?  Perhaps, but I don't think so.  When I look at the iPad 2, this is the future I see.  A day is coming when we will all be in a 24-7 conversation that covers the entire globe.  It makes me smile to think about it.

3 comments: said...

Thanks for writing, I very much liked your newest post. I think you should post more frequently, you evidently have natural ability for blogging!

Saim said...

Nice post said...

Apple products are always unique and innovative with new bunch of comfort i love using apple products more than anything else ever . a nice review and product description thanks for sharing..