Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Computing’

Doing New Things With Computers ➝

Josh Ginter:

Creative professionals don’t have to be the only folks who get to experience new workflows and new methods because of a new computer. So much time and effort is focused on creators and artists.

In real life, there are other real jobs that benefit from new technology too. Plumbers and electricians. Carpenters. Oil rig workers. Farmers. Each benefit from new technology in their own way.

Developers and creators aren’t the only professional computer users.

➝ Source: thenewsprint.co

Another iPad Post ➝

Matt Birchler, after discussing how he uses macOS for his day job and the video editing for his YouTube channel:

Literally everything else I do, which admittedly is less intense “work”, happens on my iPad. Writing this post, reading the news, doing my email, doing freelance writing work, editing my photos in Lightroom, recording and editing audio, creating my newsletter, managing the tasks for my YouTube projects, watching YouTube videos, talking with friends, task management, and even coding changes to this very website all happen on the iPad.

I’m pretty much in the same boat. I primarily use macOS for my work at Automattic and have a few personal applications/tasks that I use my Mac Mini server for — Plex, Channels DVR, and long-term local photo backups, to name a few. But the vast majority of my computing takes place on iPad or iPhone.

And even the personal tasks I perform on the Mac, most of the time I’m using Screens on my iPad to access it.

The iPad can’t be the primary computing device for everyone, sure, but I think it can fill that role for far more people than not.

➝ Source: birchtree.me

The Future of Computing

Álvaro Serrano, in a well-written and reasoned take on the iPad sales situation:

I don’t think there’s anyone left out there complaining that their iPads are not fast enough these days, or that battery life isn’t good enough. Similarly, screens are gorgeous, storage is ample, and wireless connectivity is better than ever. By all accounts, the iPad is a mature product line hardware-wise, and yet it is still very much in its infancy when it comes to software.

Álvaro is a little less enthusiastic about the iPad than I am, but it’s the best piece I’ve read on the topic so far.

If you’re unaware, iPad sales haven’t been so hot lately. They seem to have peaked at the end of 2013 and have been down year-over-year ever since. Many have speculated about why this could be, with theories ranging from Apple’s lack of commitment to the possibility that Apple was wrong about iOS — it might not be the future of computing. I’ve already shared my thoughts on the situation on twitter, but I thought I’d reiterate them here — it might be something I’ll want to point to in the future.

iPad owners don’t buy new iPads because the one they have is just as fast as the day they bought it. By comparison, the Windows PCs that many of these users buy are at their fastest when they’re first setup. I reference Windows users because they represent the vast majority of mainstream computer users and I believe them to be the primary reason for the massive success of the iPad in its early days.

These Windows PCs remain as their owners’ primary machine until they’re practically unusable — simply from years of built-up cruft in the OS. One solution would be to reinstall the operating system to regain that performance, but most people don’t know how to do that. It’s much easier for them to buy a new computer.

This scenario is practically non-existent with iOS. iPads almost always feel just as fast as the day they were purchased. This is also true with iPhones, but they have an entirely different, built-in mechanism that encourages owners to upgrade. Unlike PCs and iPads, many users buy a new iPhone because, as portable devices, they are prone to being dropped and broken — cracked screens, water damage, and the like.

iPad sales are down year-over-year because there’s no inherit mechanism that encourages users to upgrade. The OS and third-party software system is designed to prevent unnecessary cruft — PCs fight a losing battle against a growing list of login items and background tasks — and they’re less likely to be physically damaged because they’re not taken everywhere like an iPhone is.

Perhaps Apple should spend more time building iPad-specific features in an effort to increase sales. I certainly wouldn’t complain about this strategy. I’m strongly in favor of anything that improves the software on my primary machine, but I’m not entirely convinced that it will make much of a difference.

In the tech-centric circles that many of us frequent, new hardware and software features matter, a lot. But I don’t think the mainstream user is convinced to spend hundreds of dollars on a new device just because it connects to a new kind of wireless keyboard or works with a $100 drawing accessory that you have to buy separately.

Mainstream users think of their computers as appliances — they’re purchased for their utility. They are essential, but they aren’t anything to get excited about. And just like appliances, they’re replaced on an as-needed basis. When was the last time someone you know bought a dishwasher before their old one bit the dust? Probably never.

The iPad upgrade cycle might be longer than any other computing device in history. This might look terrible for Apple’s financial department, but it’s a testament to how well-crafted these devices are from both a software and hardware standpoint. The lengthy upgrade cycle lends itself to high customer satisfaction ratings and repeat customers. That’s something Apple should be proud of — a computing device that doesn’t have to be replaced every few years.

The iPad may never be a 15-20 million units per quarter kind of device, like it was in its early days, but that’s okay. As long as Apple continues to invest time and resources into improving the platform, and they’re able to sell enough to support that investment, the iPad could still end up becoming “the future of computing.” Even if unit sales aren’t as tremendously impressive as everyone wants them to be.

The Gift of Computing

My father-in-law, Bob, has absolutely no interest in traditional computers. There’s been one in his home for nearly fifteen years, but after several failed attempts at learning how to use it, he gave up entirely. His job never required him to use one and he was fine with that — he’d much rather pick up a phone and call someone or grab a book off the shelf than bother with a computer.

Things have changed over the past couple of years, though. He’s now retired and doesn’t get that daily dose of socialization that he become accustomed to over the thirty-five or so years that he worked. He spends most of days doing yard work or various home projects.

When the weather started getting cold this year — and the amount of time spent on yard work diminished — he began to express interest in new forms of communication. Everyone’s so busy these days that they don’t have as much time to pick up the phone and talk with him like they used to. Text-based messaging would be ideal, but again, he has absolutely no interest in using a traditional computer.

Bob hasn’t been quite so hesitant about touch-based interfaces, though. There’s been a handful of times that my wife would sit down with him and they’d tap their way through her iPhone — taking photographs, changing the station in Pandora, sending messages, and initiating FaceTime calls with family members that live out of town. He needed some coaching, but he was able to use the device without too much trouble. And most importantly, the use of direct input methods made the experience much less intimidating to him.

Another one of the hobbies that he’s spent time on since retirement is photography. He doesn’t have an expensive or complicated camera by any means, just an old, digital point-and-shoot. But he loves taking pictures of the wildlife in his backyard — the fox that routinely patrols the neighborhood, the deer that occasionally come off the hill, and the bears that he’s able to spy out the kitchen window. He loves taking pictures and sharing them with anyone who’ll look at them.

The problem with the sharing aspect of his hobby is that, without the use of a computer, he doesn’t have a good way of sending these photos to anyone. If he wants to show someone the fox or how many deer were in the yard yesterday, he has to physically show them the photo on his camera’s display or print them out at the local pharmacy. It’s less than ideal.

Hopefully this will all change next week. My wife, her sister, and I have pooled our money and will be giving him an iPod touch for Christmas this year. The iPod touch seems like the perfect device for introducing computing to his life. It’s pocketable, inexpensive, doesn’t require a monthly service fee like an iPhone, and replaces an existing device for him — his camera.

But we aren’t simply giving him an iPod touch and expecting him to figure it all out on his own. The device is going to be configured for him. Nearly every app on the iPod touch will be hidden inside of a folder on the second Home Screen. The first page of that folder will have nothing but the Settings app in it — making it difficult to find apps he hasn’t learned about yet by stashing them in subsequent pages. The first Home Screen will be completely blank with just two apps in the Dock — Photos and Camera.

Because the iPod touch is going to be pitched to him as a replacement for his camera, Photos and Camera are the first two applications that we will teach him to use. With these he’ll be able to take photos, record video, and share them over iCloud. iOS’s native iCloud Photo Sharing is already my family’s preferred method of sharing photos so he’ll also have access to years worth of photographs by my wife, her sister, and myself that he can like and comment on.

Once he’s mastered the features within these two applications we will slowly start introducing more apps into his Dock and Home Screen. We’ll start with Messages and move on to Weather, Calculator, Google’s PhotoScan, and anything else that he might be interested in.

Even if he never ends up moving past the Camera and Photos apps, it will still be a huge improvement over his previous setup. His photographs will look better and he’ll actually be able to share them and communicate with friends and family through shared photos’ comments. That’s something that isn’t possible for him without the iPod touch. But with any luck, these features alone will spark interest in other applications and he’ll quickly want to learn everything he can about this new, digital world.

Ben Brooks: My iPad Pro is My Preferred Computer ➝

Ben Brooks has found that he uses his iPad Pro more on a daily basis than any other computer he’s owned in the last several years. I’ve had the exact same experience with my iPad Air 2. When I’m at home, I reach for it nine times out of ten. Whether it’s to check Twitter, write for the site, read the news, or lookup a random fact, it’s all done on the iPad.

Picking Apples ➝

Nick Heer:

I think Apple’s computer lineup has remained fairly — even remarkably — simple, considering that its growth has consistently outpaced the rest of the industry for the past several years or more. It’s no longer the simple four-cell grid of consumer vs. professional and desktop vs. portable, but it’s not much more complicated than that. I would argue that it has simply gained a column: it’s now consumer, professional, and specialist, the latter of which contains the Mac Mini and the 12-inch MacBook.

I think many of us longtime Apple customers look back fondly at the four-cell grid. But Apple doesn’t seem to be categorizing their devices in that way these days. There isn’t much of a need to think of things as “professional” or “consumer” anymore — the truth is that all of the computers that Apple sells can do just about any task that you can throw at them.

Instead, Apple devices look to be positioned based on their physical footprint. And even though the larger devices usually feature higher performance, that might have more to do with what Apple is capable of delivering within a given device volume rather than Apple trying to hit some mysterious performance target.

My guess is that Apple is heading towards a future where customers are better off basing their buying decisions on which screen size they prefer rather than what tasks they expect to perform. We are quickly reaching the point where even the slowest machines pack more computing power than the majority of customers would ever need. And in that world, screen size and device footprint are the largest differentiating factors.

‘Why I Now Have Two iPads’ ➝

Karan Varindani, writing on Medium:

The iPad mini bridges the gap between my iPhone and iPad Pro perfectly. The Air might be the best iPad for some people, but I strongly believe that there’s room for the Pro-Mini combination, too. A lot of people have disagreed with me on this already, and I understand why: The thought of needing two iPads sounds obnoxious. However, none of these people are iPad users, and I know three iPad Pro users that have been considering doing what I have so I know I’m not alone. All I can say is, after two weeks of using both devices, I don’t regret my decision. I won’t use the mini for any real ‘work,’ and it’s probably not going to leave my room much (if at all), but it definitely has a place in my device ecosystem. So, yes: I now have two iPads.

For many users, the days of traditional desktop computing will soon be a thing of the past.

Patrick Rhone: The Metaphor is Changing ➝

Patrick Rhone on the iPad:

Everything you know about the “office” metaphor of computing, with files, folders, desktops, etc. is changing. Apple created it. Now they are replacing it. I think the confusing thing for many people is that, this time, they are not setting the paradigm from the top down (desktop to mobile) but from the bottom up (mobile to desktop).