I was talking to a friend on the phone last night and the topic of where end user computing is going came up. He said something that I found interesting. He’s using his PC less and less. In fact, he only uses it now because it does two things that his iPad cannot: virtualisation (for labs) and handling of RAW files (from a DSLR camera) for processing in Adobe Lightroom. All the web stuff, email, and so on, are handled nicely on his iPad.
Hmm, I’m finding the same thing. I use my iPhone more and more, instead of using a laptop/netbook. When I’m lazing on the couch, the phone works well for Facebook or Twitter. When I’m travelling, I use it for music, and watching videos and podcasts. When waiting, I can surf the net or use carious apps for getting the news or weather. The PC is becoming less of a factor in my life. In fact, if I had an iPad (which I won’t pay for) I think I would only use a PC for work.
But then my friend mentioned something that I’ve also wondered about. iDevices don’t have a concept of storage like in a PC. There is no C: drive so to speak. Storage of user data like music, videos, and so on, is handled by the apps in question. Many people seem to consider Dropbox to be a mandatory add-on to iDevices. It appears to me that Apple has taken the view that everything is centred on the app. I’d argue that everything is centred on information.
Maybe this is the stumbling block right now for the iPad being a true end user, business appliance for the masses. Sure, some apps can live in the cloud, with data warehouses in the back end, out of sight from the end user. Maybe Office can live in the cloud with online SharePoint and an app-managed local replica. But there are times when that isn’t enough. Maybe we need a complete rethink of how we use data. But then I come back to one scenario that I’m familiar with … a day of wildlife photography could generate 12 GB of RAW photos to upload, and then I’ll process some of those into 100+ MB PSD files. That’s a lot of data going up to the cloud.
I’ll be sure to patent the solution when I think of it 🙂
Meanwhile … out on the farm …
Rumblings about Windows Phone 7 continue. We’re still waiting to see the copy-paste patch that was promised back at the underwhelming launch. And Paul Thurrot (and commentators on his blog) have been reporting that WP7 handsets are eating up data allowances for no apparent reason. I listen to a Thurrot podcast this morning and he reckons that WP7 handsets are sometimes using 3G instead of an available and joined wifi connection, e.g. you start a download on wifi, “hibernate” the phone, wifi is powered down, and the phone continues the download over 3G. Ouch! And there are also grumbles that Zune is still quite region limited so even podcast distribution is restricted. Not good … but that’s always been a big issue for Zune. It killed the Zune device from day zero. For example, in Ireland, we could not even access the Zune website without using a USA-based proxy.
A beta for Apple iOS 4.3 has emerged for developers to test. It’s going to add mifi functionality. That’s where you use your phone are a wireless access point, put it somewhere with a strong signal, and wirelessly access it’s Net access from your laptop/tablet. Nice! I’m told Android already has this.