Well, Max (PHD’s resident photography whizz) and I were talking yesterday about the implications of apps for the more professional, heavy duty software like Photoshop.
This is a screengrab of Photoshop Elements, which I’m trialling at the moment; since switching to a Mac, I don’t have a copy of Photoshop anymore, as I was using an ancient version (PS7) on my old Windows laptop. I do have CS3 at work though.
It costs £80, it’s very much the stripped back version of Photoshop, designed for the home amateur. To be fair, I’m not found that much I’m missing from the full version, but there’s the odd thing here and there that bugs me when it’s missing.
I’m not sure I think it’s worth £80 though, and that’s probably because my internal perception for the value of ‘mucking about with images’ is being pulled down by various things.
Firstly, of course, there’s the phone apps.
QuadCamera, Hipstamatic, CameraBag, TiltShiftGen… they all do a small element of what Photoshop can do, and in comparison they are just one-trick ponies.
There’s a Photoshop app too, which I’ve got, but only use it infrequently for the cropping tool.
But having the suite available wherever and whenever has meant that I never do what I used to with snappy phone photography, which is go back to a computer and touch up the best ones in Photoshop.
I have the instant ability to either take more interesting photos, or adjust ones I’ve taken already, right there in my hand.
Then there was Sumo Paint, which Michael drew my attention to yesterday… it’s basically a cloud-based version of Photoshop (and feels very like Photoshop too).
As long as your connected to the web, you can use it. If you’re offline a lot, you can buy the download for about £14. That seems a lot better value than Photoshop Elements…
(Suneil pointed out the irony of something that challenges Photoshop so directly running on Adobe’s other big ‘ting, Flash…)
It’s all made me think that the ‘photo manipulation’ market if fragmenting in much the same way that the print market is.
Imagine Photoshop is the original newspaper; it sells you everything in one big package, you can’t strip out just the parts you want, because originally it couldn’t be served to you that way… and it was just the model they continued with when the interweb came along.
Then something like Sumo Paint is the news website… it gives you most of the content you used to have in a paper you paid for, but for free. The catch? You’ve got to be online to use it. But that actually suits a lot of people, so they stop buying the newspaper…
Finally, the apps are… well, the apps. They take one specific element of the paper, do it REALLY WELL, and sell it to people for a small fee.
I guess Adobe are heading down The Times paywall approach with photoshop; big fee, small audience.
Personally, I’d like to see them playing more in the app end of things… let their imagination run wild, and use their excellent tech to make many small, cheap, wondrous things.
Now, I’m not overly proud of this picture… it’s of the keyboard of our home computer, and it would appear to be a bit… errmm, dusty…
It’s probably very fair to say that since we moved in to our new place at the beginning of February, neither Helen nor I have been near the computer that sits in the spare room.
Indeed, I only noticed it because I had to go and print out some tickets to go to the Brighton Sealife Centre (print out!?! It’s 2010, codes & mobile ticketing, please…).
But it did get me thinking, about two things that are, quite possibly, on their way out.
Firstly, the ‘home PC’.…
Or at least, the description that will be familiar in many homes; a desktop computer that sits in a home office, or squeezed in the corner of the guest room, or wherever there’s room (or is close enough to a phone socket to plug a modem into)…
Like millions of other folks we’ve now got enough mobile/laptop shenanigans going on that to have a separate machine in a different, isolated part of the house is actually now just taking up space… desktops have been outsold by laptops consistently since 2006.
The desktop PC was designed not for convenience, of course, but for necessity. To get as much computing power in as possible (and make sure that you could power it, cool it down etc), you had to have a big bloody box sitting under a desk somewhere.
Nowadays, though, you can fit all the necessary power into a laptop that you can take wherever you wanted to be in the first place… which was unlikely to be the spare room.
Which means we’re seeing the rise of things like social television (which this article from the BBC will tell you all about if you’re unfamiliar with it).
Magical computery power is starting to change the dynamics of the home in lots of interesting ways, which will no doubt have more of an effect on the sectors people previously didn’t imagine t’internet would affect that much originally.
…the earliest is arguably the ‘Typowriter’ (patented in 1829 by William Austin Burt), but by far my favourite is Giuseppe Ravizza’s “Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti”, which translates as “scribe harpsicord, or machine for writing with keys”
So approaching 200 years old is not bad going for a technology that by and large hasn’t really changed. People talk about touchscreen computers (iPad et al), and claim that they’re not great devices for ‘creation’, just ‘consumption’.
What they really mean is that they aren’t great for ‘creation of stuff I now use a keyboard for’.
My generation (I’m 32 now) were introduced to a keyboard as a route to playing, creating or working, but in ‘isolation’; what you played or did via keyboard you did on your own.
A generation underneath probably see the keyboard as a route to communication first (email, IM, social networks etc), then playing, working and creating together.
Whoever we are, we’re all still rooted in that keyboard tradition… so many of us have been trained to use it already, it’s going to be a hard habit for society to shift.
But a generation that grows up in a world of touchscreens…
…well, surely they’ll work out a way to get from this…
Just watching the wee fella with touchscreen devices is a joy… he’s only 7 months old, yet he gets the very simple concept that if you touch it, it does something.
He’s really, really surprised that ALL screens don’t work this way, of course. And tried to see if the fish tanks at Brighton Sealife centre reacted to frantic touch-motioning.
Which, admittedly, they did. Poor turtles.
Anyway, I reckon that keyboards might just be on their way out, but not for a good 10+ years or so.
Or are we confident that like the wheel, the basic keyboard model is here to stay forever?
I got my mitts on an iPad for the first time yesterday, thanks to David at The Guardian.
We worked with them and Canon on the Guardian Eyewitness app (now the SECOND MOST POPULAR free app for the iPad… FTW).
So we were understandably VERY eager to see the fruits of our labours.
(Apple, ‘fruits’? See, it’s a pun, geddit? Oh, never mind…)
Anyway, I took the opportunity to create a little video run through of some of the ‘media’ properties on it, just to get a first feel for what ‘worked’ on the iPad:
So, that was yesterday. My thoughts today?
All in all, whilst newspapers and magazines (and of course comics) can do some wonderful creative things with the iPad, having used it you realise what a great in between step between ‘lean back’ and ‘sit forward’ it is…
…which is perfect for just watching TV on.
Ben Malbon points out that the posters they’ve put up are like a giant user manual… “this is how you use it”.
Looks like a great way to watch content, yet still have access to everything the web offers at the flick of a finger.
And sure, as a device it has the potential to do untold amount of wonderful things, depending on the apps developed for it. And it may revolutionise many markets (news, games, work, healthcare…)
Yet given the amount of ‘watching’ people still do (television, films etc), and the quality and flexibility of the iPad for fulfilling that need, I believe that for mainstream take up it’s the viewing capabilities that will be key.
People LOVE watching TV, as we all know. This represents a different, flexible, personal way to do that, wherever you want. TV has a mass appeal that opens up the interest in the device to a wider audience than would be interested in more early-adopter tech (the iPhone, for instance).
I was at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit last week… look, see, really I was…
I did a lot of liveblogging in the morning, then was on a panel early afternoon. I took some photos of people coming in, just for fun.
Maybe you were there, and you can spot yourself…
But then, like the awful liveblogger, I got caught up in conversations and inspirations and the like…
…which meant the liveblogging fell away a bit.
Rather than try and cobble together the back half of the day, I thought instead I’d capture the three big-ish thoughts I walked away with from the day.
Hopefully these will offer fair compensation for anyone who was following avidly, only to find coverage tailing off like a drunk’s sentence…
(I’ve decided to split it into three posts, because I do go on… so here’s ‘part I’)
Part I – The ebb and flow of mass and niche
So, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia opened the day. I love Wikipedia, it’s a community with a real sense of purpose, helped no doubt by a really clear mission…
“to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally”
As Wales said, “free, as in free speech, not as in free beer”.
And of course, it’s massively successful in achieving that mission. But what’s next?
Well, it’s Wikia. If Wikipedia is just the encyclopaedia in the library, Wikia’s going to be the other cultural artifacts in the library…
The mission of Wikia is “to enable communities to create, share and discover content on any topic in any language”
Not just educational content, learning, but anything people like. The most successful ones so far are things based on big, cultural things that bring people together… like Star Wars, Lost, or Dr Who (more on The Doctor later, btw… )
See what they did? They called the Star Wars one ‘Wookiepedia‘. Clever.
And it’s not just the large, global cultural things that have their own Wikia sites…lots of smaller communities of interest do too. You know all this, I’ll skip on.
They started as one big central technology idea, and are now spreading into lots of more precise cultural ideas…
Then Erik Huggers from the BBC was talking about the new vision for the BBC, where people would be able to edit and select their own personal, perfect BBC. The BBC had sprawled into lots of niche and interesting areas of course, from before being one big central place…
…and all through the day, we heard from other big media companies saying they were spreading out into niche, niche and neat technology companies talking about going mainstream.
So it got me thinking about this notion of the ebb and flow of technology and media… back and forth, constantly changing, like the sea…
A new technology emerges, and something mainstream is done with it…
…because in order to get people using it, the technology can’t afford to be fussy. It can’t serve the many and myriad needs of the population, it has to be for everyone.
Like television when it was just 4 channels, or like Wikipedia.
But when the technology matures, and people love it, more niche opportunities arise… people think ‘ahh, all these people love television, so maybe I could create a station that just shows films, and the people who like television, and like films, will like that better…’
…or think “right, people understand what this wiki thing is now, and they find it useful… maybe people who like wikis, and like a TV show like Lost, will like their own wiki better…”
But when a new technology comes along again, it has to be for everyone for a while… just until everyone gets used to it.
Then it’ll break apart, and find interesting niches to serve.
For instance, maybe that’s where the location services like FourSquare and Gowalla will end up. Rather than being technology for ‘everyone’, there will be precise iterations for foodies, football fans and bird spotters…
…the community you share it with will be the one in which you share interests, rather than the shared interest being the technology itself.
The tools of the modern age will make this happen a lot faster too… APIs to build specific versions of a general service, the ability to quickly share information with a given community.
At first, it seems people are interested in the technology.
But then, you realise they just want to find out how they can use technology to help them do what they liked to do anyway, but better.
As we can see, the touchscreen is about to get huge (it’s not just an Apple thing, of course, all manufacturers are developing touchscreen devices of all shapes and sizes)…
Interesting to see categories that are not really making use of it yet… sports especially.
Well, I think sports is ripe for a bit of touchscreen interaction. Especially when you think of Andy Gray standing in front of his digital touchscreen to explain tactics on the fitba’…
Now, with the touchscreen device gaining in popularity, what if you could download your own version of this? And use it to send into the studio where you think the players should be standing, making runs and so on. A kind of crowdsourced tactical analysis. You versus the experts.
That’d be kind of cool, I think. And another interesting way to use touchscreen devices alongside watching ‘event’ TV.
The what? The Apple whodjimmy? The iPad? What, you hadn’t heard? Oh, they did some launch thing over in the States on Wednesday…
OK, so you can hardly have missed it, but here’s what I think are the headline points to bear in mind…
…but firstly, a quick overview of the device itself:
It weights 1.5lb (680g or so) so it’s pretty light, it’s half an inch thick, 9.5 inches high, and 7.5 inches wide…
…it comes with either a 16gb, 32gb or 64gb solid state drive, all models connect with Wi-Fi, you can upgrade to 3G (so you can use a phone network, though you don’t need to have a contract, it’s pre-pay)…
…it runs all the existing iPhone apps, there”s a bespoke version of iWork (Apple’s ‘Office’ equivalent) you can buy as apps too…
…and it works just like a big iPod Touch or iPhone, really.
Seriously though, of all the things mentioned yesterday, this to me is the thing that makes me think it’ll take off.
At a mere $499 for an entry model iPad, it’s already positioning itself as a device between a smartphone and laptop.
It’s not aiming to replace more expensive laptops, but to do something different in between. And I think that $499 is low enough for people to go and get one ‘just to see’.
Of course, netbook manufacturers, who led the way in producing small cheap machines whose purpose of existing was the access the internet wherever and whenever, are sitting this morning wondering where to go now.
Intel doesn’t yet have a proven track record in mobile chips currently (though have just contributed to their first Smartphone, the LG GW990), so Apple needed another option for the launch of the iPad…
However, it’s interesting news that the chip was made in-house, rather than sourcing another supplier. Yet perhaps it’s a move as you’d expect would have been the eventual step for a company who likes to do it all in-house.
Maybe at some point in the long term, they expect to make all of their own chips… which might cause a wee headache to some chip manufacturers…
3. Bye bye e-books
…though not as much of a headache as the e-book boys have right now.
But to save you the trouble, the reasons ‘not’ are pretty lame. So the future’s not looking great for the Kindle, but what about the much vaunted thought that…
4. “…it’ll save the newspaper industry!”
Let’s be honest; Apple haven’t exactly made it their mission to save the existing media industries.
Just look at music… it’s not like the iPod & iTunes did anything to preserve the existing model for the music industry; if anything, it hurried the mass population into a new way of behaving that could only hasten the industry’s model decline…
“I can pay much less for music, and only pick the songs I really wanted”.
In that light, can you really see the iPad preserving the income levels that the newspaper industry like to imagine a daily read of their paper is worth?
No, neither can I.
Sure, there will be a subscription model that’ll make a little money. Micropayments too, maybe, through iTunes.
But it won’t be anything near the level that newspaper owners think it should be; people will think…
“I can pay much less for news, and only pick the bits I really wanted”
5. It’ll have a big impact on TV
We like having lots of TVs in our home. Living room, then bedroom, then kitchen… the family could quickly disperse to the different rooms around the house to watch whatever they wanted.
The iPad is reportedly an excellent TV & movie device (it’s HD quality, of course). You can sit with it on your knee wherever you are (at home, on a train, in an airport, in the back seat of a car)…
…so watching content will be great; using a service like the iPhone TV Catchup anywhere you’ve got wi-fi would be a joy, much more so than it is on the iPhone.
But despite the ability to watch live TV like this, I think it’s still bad news for traditional linear TV viewing, and advertising by implication.
People will have another option to watch whatever they want wherever and whenever. It’ll encourage more use of downloading programming, which may have all the pre-rolls and whatever you like, but will not replace the money brought in by the traditional ad-break on TV.
And if content creators think they’ll switch to a revenue stream funded by ‘pay-per-show’, then they better be prepared to sell it cheap; already Apple clearly want to half the price of TV content on iTunes.
Finally, of course, we know that ‘two screen’ viewing is really coming into it’s own of late; sitting on the couch with your smartphone or laptop, with the TV on at the same time.
But if the device you hold is bigger. brighter, better, easier to surf… then less of your attention is going to be pointed at the screen in the corner of the room. The TV may be on, but the advertising will be increasingly ignored.
6. A new era of gaming
The iPhone was a huge success when it came to games. So much so, that it kinda caught Apple by surprise (they’ve never been that good on gaming, let’s be honest).
What was apparent that people really did want to play more intricate, complex games on a touchscreen platform…
…but in such a cramped space such as the iPhone, that made it hard; at times it seemed half the screen was taken up by virtual buttons.
But with a bigger device, you get more ‘game’ screen, and less pressure to squeeze in fiddly virtual buttons. Control gestures can be bigger, more natural.
And of course you’ve still got the accelerometer to control things by tipping and turning the device.
When the first iPhone launched, sure, there where a few things you could do with it.
But it was only when the thousands of developers populated the iPhone with the 100,000+ apps that everyone’s really been able to make it their own personal, perfect device. And now you can get all the iPhone apps on the iPad.
(BTW – Letting those developers in, whilst maintaining a level of control to keep quality at a decent threshold, was the smartest thing Apple may have done with the iPhone, IMHO)
But now there’s a whole new device to play with.
The gestures are based on hands, not thumbs. The viewing can be for many eyes, not just yours. The holding position is more book & magazine, less phone and iPod.
As Bryce says here, the iPad is about “packaging a new user experience which really comes down to the
software’s gesture interface, the SDK and the underlying hardware that
powers it all.” (HT David Cushman)
It’s not just a ‘big iPhone’; I think that’s just a lazy (if not snarky) observation to make.
When the developers are let loose on it in anger and start releasing proper iPad apps will we understand exactly what it’s capable of…
…and where it’s going to be of most use, like in…
I think there’s terrific opportunities to adopt the iPad (and the new generation of devices it will no doubt spawn from competitors) more in a work scenario.
Which Apple do too, given that they’ve launched special bespoke versions of the ‘iWork’ tools (Keynote, Numbers and Pages) as $9.99 apps for the device.
Now, as John Griffiths points out here it’s really at odds with the Microsoft Office charging model (who every time charge hundreds of dollars to upgrade to the next version of Office).
Though Apple of course want you to buy the new sausage, so give you the sizzle for virtually nothing.
But I was talking to Mike at Made by Many about this, and we agreed there’s huge potential for a device like the iPad to move into healthcare, education as well as traditional business.
It could represent a new way of accessing, creating and sharing information. Of course, you wouldn’t expect to walk into an NHS hospital and see all the Doctors accessing patient information on iPads, but there will be alternatives that are cheap enough to make widespread rollout possible.
The iPad will change the perception of what is possible & desirable from a device in the workplace, creating opportunities for many other manufacturers too.
9. Some folk are pretty disappointed
It’s well known that techy, bloggy types want the moon on a stick. For over six months, speculation has been rife about what the iPad ‘may’ be able to do.
Of course, when it doesn’t arrive, people get all disappointed… and start making (inevitable) Downfall versions of Hitler being told about it…
Sure, there’s no camera, no Flash support (Apple are clearly trying to kill Adobe’s Flash too, just for kicks), no multitasking (so you couldn’t run Spotify at the same time as a Keynote app, for instance)…
…but the overall disgruntlement is, I think, misplaced. Take this for instance…
“I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so
ridiculous! … I want something new! I want them to think differently!
Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!”
It’s not a reaction to the iPad this week. But to the original iPod, back in 2001 (via ReadWriteWeb). The first generation iPhone, when announced, faced similar disappointment and derision from within the techworld.
And look how they turned out…
10. The Market and Stephen Fry are impressed
Have a look at the Apple Share price over the last 6 months or so, ever since the rumour machine really started cranking up…
Not bad, huh? The market clearly thinks Apple are onto a winner…
“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking,
still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute
you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment
until you’ve spent five minutes with it.”
No YouTube film, no
promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even
hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and
interacting with one of these magical objects.”
I can’t wait to try it.
So there you have it, the Apple iPad. Personally, I think it’s going to cause big ripples across many markets, and you know what, that’s how I like things. Change is good. The iPad is great.
It’s going to revolutionise computing. It’s going to come packed with a free spaceship. It’s a window to peer backwards through time and alter the present. It comes with Wonkavision, so you can reach in and grab anything off eBay you fancy. It’s actually built from Sport Billy technology, so it shrinks to become a regular iPhone…
Well, no matter what it can do, a lot of the conversation so far has been about where it fits into folk’s lives. Would it replace the desktop computer, or the laptop, or the TV… or just aspects of all of these, but not as well..?
Well, here’s a thought; what if it took a trick out the Lego book, and the device as you see it above is just one brick… that can connect up to other bricks.
What do I mean? Well, take the MacBook pro below…
But don’t think of it as one whole device, but two blocks.
The first block is your Apple tablet. It can operate on it’s on, with the touchscreen, but you can then just slot it together with the keyboard element, and hey presto, you’ve got a laptop again.
Or think about a small television on a stand, like you might have in a bedroom or kitchen…
Again, the stand, the receiver, the hard drive with all your stored programmes are just other ‘blocks’ that you click a screen onto.
Of course, the laptop ‘docking station’ approach has been around for a while, and while I was looking around on t’net for an image, I found this patent filed by Apple back in 2008 (via Cybernet News, specced up by Gizmodo).
The supposition at the time was that it “looks like a typical Apple iMac screen base in which you would be able
to dock one of those ultra thin and light laptops rumored by sliding it
in right through the side of the screen. It would presumably fit
completely inside of the monitor.”
But what if it was never meant to ‘fit completely inside of the monitor.