I’m writing this post from my new iPad using the WordPress App. Pretty impressive.
The more I get to know my iPad the more I come to expect it to have access to ALL my data, regardless of whether or not it has been synced from my home PC or not. I have instant access to content from all over the Internet as though it was local, and yet I have to sit in front of my desktop to plan what data I want to sync from my home Mac to have it available on the iPad.
So, how do we fix this?
I think Apple should make it seamless to be able to browse your own content from nominated Macs from your iPad as though it was an extension of the locally stored data in the iPad.
I imagine you would give permissions on your Mac for selected iPad and iPhone devices to be able to access selected libraries of content from you Mac. For example permissions to your:
- iPhoto library
- Document directory
- iTunes library
You would be able to grant permission to access on the same local network, or across the Internet (the later obviously being much more of a technical challenge to do securely, however nothing Apple couldn’t solve).
Once granted, the user should be able to natively see this content in local apps like Photos, iPod, Pages, Numbers, Keynote. The iDisk application could also browse your Mac’s local filesystem (from the directories you chose to share) from where you could open a file using any App that supported the doctype.
As an aside, I played with Keynote today and was amazed I couldn’t import a file from my iDisk within the App. It was easy enough to open the iDisk App and open the file, however this kind of “suggestive integration cross-selling” is something I have come to expect from Apple.
Now, once the content is browseable from my iPad without jumping any hoops or any new learning curve in the wonders of networking, there are some specific functions that I would love to be able to perform on my content from the comfort of my couch, bed, coffee shop.
Photos – basically the ability to manage and clean up my library from the iPad
- rating my photos
- adding face detection
- hiding or deleting photos
- creating an Album
- publishing photos to the Internet
Oh, and if I had an Apple TV (I do) I would like the exercise to be visible on my home TV so that the process can be a social experience.
iTunes – the ability to manage what it synced to my iPad from my iPad.
- tagging new songs, playlists, photo albums, videos, etc on my Mac to be synced to my iPad (and iPhone) while using my iPad on the couch or on the bus.
- ability to subscribe to new podcasts.
- ability to initiate a download of large content from iTunes from my iPad (e.g. perhaps if I’m using my iPad on 3G and I find a movie I want to buy, I should have to option to download it to my (nominated) home Mac rather than my iPad) for viewing when I’m next at home.
- Aside: in any of the local Apps where I can browse/stream content from my home Mac, I should also be able to tag that content to remain in sync and therefore flagged in iTunes as a permanent sync item (perhaps this is automatically assumed for simplicity).
I would love to implement something like this myself, however it’s only truly going to work as a deeply integrated experience that is core to the iOS, iTunes and OSX software, so I would prefer to see Apple do it right.
In summary, I see the iPad as a ultra portable window to my whole computing world. I don’t want to have to think about the barriers between where my content is stored, in particular my own content. Applications need to evolve to be available in different form factors around your content, not the current method where the content needs to follow your apps.
If anyone from Apple is reading this and would like more of these ideas, I’m always available to talk about jobs:)
Quick predictions of where Apple is taking the Apple TV product having been reading reviews of the iPad…
Take a look at the interactivity of the MLB app. The combination of video with interactive data (field layout, scoreboard, player stats). Now imagine that experience was standard for your home TV? Is this not the future of television, to provide interactive mashup of video and data that the end user can control?
Of course not all programming would benefit from the combination of a video and data stream, however for that content that would benefit, the interactivity and personalisation offered would exceed anything that digitial free-to-air or cable TV can provide. I used to think that Apple should put a digital tuner in the Apple TV, however assuming they can win over all the networks to make their content available within iPad applications (either within iTunes or in their own native apps) then now I see no reason why that feed of TV shouldn’t been streaming using H.264. In other words, I could completely see the next version of Apple TV being another customised version of the iPhone OS customised for lounge room, big screen viewing.
Obviously I’m not proposing a Touch UI on your big LCD TV, but imagine the combination of the iPad or iPhone Remote App working together with your Apple TV to no only be able to select iTunes content but also able to fire up other native Apps like Hulu, Netflix, CBS, WSJ, etc designed for your big screen TV. Alternatively, a simple Apple Remote should be capable of driving the Touch UI interface of the iPad without adding too much complexity. An Apple TV variant of the iPhone OS would probably require another jump in resolution to do justice on HD TVs, however I’d expect a more tightly controlled group of Apps to be available on the app-centric Apple TV — such as content providers (video and “print”), games, interactive data like weather, etc.
Such a move for Apple would take the next step from revolutionising music (iPod), telecommunications (iPhone), print media (iPad) to also change the way broadcast television is published. For example, in conjunction with live or on-demand video (perhaps a selection of video angles or content for a given program), just as important would be broadcasting the live stream of data to support the content on display. For example:
- Stats — like live stats from a sports match (like MLB above)
- Geotags — for travel shows, news stories, etc
- Product details — for advertisements, product placements in movies/TV shows
- Social Media — for live discussion of content (like integrating Twitter comments around a story)
Just imagine the revolution of the advertising industry to allow all TV content to support links to more information for virtually anything on display (products, places, people, content, comments, opinions, ratings, etc)?
Apple doesn’t hit the market with half-baked products. It works in total secrecy on products and then on business partnerships until it has a compelling market of content. I see this the same with an Apple TV streaming live and on-demand TV. I think content partners need to come to grips with individual solutions for accessing their content via iPhone and iPad applications and users will, over time, demand more interactive and personalised viewing experience of adding data streams to their viewing. When there is more coverage from content providers familiar with this combination of video and data broadcasting, then I think Apple are in a position to lift that from the individual experience on the iPad and make it a big screen experience on the lounge room television in a more controlled but experienced broadcasting market.