Thursday, March 15, 2012

Launch of the new iPad seems to fail to bring with it the added software features of other new product releases

Maybe I'm crazy, I admit that. But I've always maintained that tech sites put way too much emphasis on Apple's new iOS product releases, missing the impact that the updated operating systems have on the users experience.

On Friday (or maybe even today) the FedEx truck will be rolling by my door, stopping, and delivering some goodness.

But once those products are unboxed and plugged in what will I be able to do with them that I can't already do with my older iPad or AppleTV? Or asked more correctly: what can I do with them that I couldn't do with my older Apple products that have been updated to the latest OS?

Netflix issued a minor update to its iOS apps today.

That, you see, has been the real excitement for me: updating my devices so that I can do something new, something better, something faster. With each new iOS device release has come some new capability that has excited users and moved Apple's mobile platform forward.

Here is a quick look at some of those updates:

The Original iPhone: Like many old time Mac users, the introduction of the original iPhone felt more like a distraction. OK, great phone, but could you, maybe, do something with the Mac line?

But, of course, I was way off base. As the weeks went by and I learned more about the iPhone I realized that I wanted one, really bad.

The iPhone wasn't a phone, after all, it was a new kind of device. Suddenly my flip phone wasn't going to cut it.

The iPhone 3G: While much of the media was concentrating on the new lower price and the addition of 3G, the real game changer came with iOS 2 which brought third party apps to the iPhone.

With 600K apps now available one can hardly remember a time when there were literally only a handful of new apps to choose from. From 2008 to today, we've come a long way.

(The iPhone 3G is the only iPhone I have not personally owned, but the software update worked just fine on the original iPhone. In fact, with the introduction of this phone, Apple's updates would be free to owners of the older phones, making them almost like new again. This feature, regular updates, is what continues to differentiate the Apple platform from the competition.)

The iPhone 3GS: This phone came with a better quality camera in it as Apple must have realized that the camera wasn't just one of those things you throw into the phone just because the competition has it. Suddenly Apple got serious about this.

The iPhone 3GS was the first phone that could shoot video. Combined with the added memory and faster processing, the iPhone 3GS was the first phone that felt like you really could surf the web and take a call at the same time. That is to say that all those things Apple said you could do with your phone really were possible.

My old iPhone 3GS now serves as my alarm clock and music service on my night stand.

The Original iPad: April 2010 brought the first iPad and with it a whole new product line, and with it all new capabilities, and it ushered in the tablet edition. 'Nuff said.

The iPhone 4: The introduction of the iPhone 4 brought with a new design, better camera and other enhancements. But it was a few months later, at the September iPod event, that Apple introduced AirPlay. Since then, Apple has taken streaming very seriously.

This is one reason why the AppleTV update is paired with the new iPad – with the higher resolution display will come higher resolution video.

Since the fall of 2010, the rate of major introductions has actually slowed, even as the schedule of iOS device introductions has remained the same.

Today (AppleTV) and tomorrow (new iPad) I'll be receiving new devices, but the big reason I'm excited to get the new products is so that I can begin mirroring the screen of the iPad – something I can not do with my original iPad. This will, hopefully, result in more media app videos here at TNM.

But I'm just catching up, what will the owner of the new iPad be able to do with their new device that they can't with their old one? I'm really struggling with that one, and it is leading me to the conclusion that this round of iOS device updates may prove to be a real snooze compared to previous device introductions.

Some pundits would point to the new higher resolution display as the big new feature that changes the game. We'll see, but to me this seems like an improvement, not a new capability. I can still read books and watch videos on my old iPad, what can I do totally new with the new one?

On the other hand, this conclusion could prove just as wrong as my initial thought that the launch of the iPhone was a non-event. Oops.