Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Apps are the new channels

<tl;dr>Video is going to be big. Apps that have video in them are going to be awesome. Multimedia on your iPad/tablet device is where it’s at for learning. Read on for 3 trends that I’ve noticed.</tl;dr>

John Gruber today said on the Bloomberg TV+ for the iPad:

This is the future of TV. The full Bloomberg news channel, free of charge, on your iPad. Apps are the new channels.

I remembered reading a couple of days back, Mark Suster talking about how he invested in TreeHouse (formerly known as Think Vitamin). Think Vitamin gives you high quality video training to keep you on the cutting edge of web development. It is a curated Udemy. They both have their space – I’d like to see it like TV programming versus YouTube programming.

Some takeaway from Mark Suster’s post: American’s watch 5.3 hours of television per day! Americans read less than an hour a day!!!

Learning by video is useful. Smarter universities are opensourcing their classes — not only the slides and notes, but they’re also putting audio & video online too. Some more progressive ones are even allowing you to take part in the class via an online enrollment, completely free (see Stanford’s Introduction to Databases).

It seems that Jason Calacanis has pivoted Mahalo yet again. After some layoffs, the company is pivoting from videos to apps. The blame seems to lie on Google’s Panda updates in where highly optimized SEO sites get hit. YouTube’s affiliate fees are probably not paying the bills.

So the pivot is to make instructional apps for the iPad that not only incorporate video, but some text of the techniques behind it. See apps like Learn Guitar, Learn Pilates, How to Draw!, and Walkthrough for Angry Birds. All the apps cost USD$9.99 with the exception of the Angry Birds walkthrough.

Why will this pivot work? Because instead of the web browser and search being the medium, you’re letting the App Store be the search engine. The web browser is now the app. The videos are already made, existing in Mahalo’s bank. You can download the videos if need be (I bet they are huge). And you’re bound to find it more useful to consume on your iPad rather than on your computer screen or TV.

There are many how-to books like The Complete Idiots Guide, et al. They sell for about USD$20-30 a pop. Why not get access to videos? Read text. Learn by doing with multimedia. This was the promise of Microsoft Encarta for example.

Instructional videos are very popular. I know friends in their 20s learning how to cook or even apply make-up techniques via YouTube videos. I also know people realizing that the iPad is very handy to be reading/watching videos while on the lounge, lying in bed, etc. Its also a lot easier to prop an iPad up to learn how to play the guitar than it is to bring your laptop there. Touch will allow easier pausing/skipping/etc. compared to a remote control.

The trend seems to be that of videos. We learn by seeing.

I was in Berlin recently, and visited the Topography of Terror. I read about this and the events that are explained there for O Level History. I felt connected by seeing pictures, reading additional texts, and more. Imagine the future of education: I deep-dive into a subject like this, and I can skim things a lot easier with multimedia available to me. I’ll understand a lot better & quicker than just reading pages and pages of fairly boring text.

So, are apps the new channels? I think Gruber is on to something. As are Suster and Calacanis.

The iPad as a camera

I’ve been walking around Paris recently and it’s becoming quite common: the iPad is used as a camera. I’ve seen tourists do the same thing in Munich as well, but not as common as in Paris.

Beyond just taking photos with a larger screen, people are doing entire tours, with video and audio. I’m unaware if there are such guides, but people are walking around with the iPad 2 in portrait mode and are recording their experience. There are so many experiences to be had in Paris, so it is not surprising that people want to take it home and their iPad’s have become the device they turn to for it.

I’ve always thought that the large screen on the iPad makes a perfect “back” for a camera. When I first started carrying my Canon G10 (a point&shoot, with zoom, that has controls like an SLR to some extent) I was always trying to use the viewfinder. A trait from shooting with SLRs and dSLRs all the while. Today I’m quite happy to use the larger LCD display to compose my photos (largely out of frustration of not having a viewfinder that covered more of the frame).

I notice LCD composition generally becoming the trend. Many cheaper digital cameras don’t even come with a viewfinder any longer. People are used to using larger LCDs for composition with their touchscreen phones (like iPhone’s, Androids, most of Nokia’s touch devices, etc.)

So why does the iPad 2 come with an inadequate camera/video camera? The iPad 3 will definitely improve on this, as will future revisions. I think Apple just had no idea that people would take on using such a device as a camera…

FWIW, around conferences, I’ve seen people use Playbook’s and Xoom’s to do the same thing (but that, I’ve always presumed is the alpha geek crowd using their devices).

Reading on the iPad

I’ve been carrying an iPad since the second day it got released in the United States… That makes me somewhat of an early adopter. I’ve been reading e-books on the iPad using iBooks (via O’Reilly’s Safari) and also via GoodReader when people release them as PDFs. I never did purchase an iBook or Kindle book until recently.

Last week, right before a long flight back from San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur, I decided to purchase: The Upgrade: A Cautionary Tale of a Life Without Reservations by Paul Carr. I had enjoyed reading his previous book, Bringing Nothing To The Party: True Confessions Of A New Media Whore, which he at one stage even released as a free PDF.

GoodReader has been my most popular application on the iPad. And I do a lot of reading using Instapaper. But for books? I bought an iBook using my US-based iTunes account, and I read the entire tome from Carr on the flight back. I was hooked.

This weekend, while sitting down in a hotel in Seoul, I decided to try my luck with the Kindle. Lo and behold, I can do one-click purchasing using my Malaysian-issued credit card. Now you’ve got me hooked! First I used the Mac application — figuring out though I would not be reading too much on the Mac (I really only read technical books on my laptop, and that is served very nicely from the Safari bookshelf).

Next I proceeded to download the iPad/iPhone application (they’ve made it universal). Enter my username and password, and I’m off to reading straight on my iPad. I paid for three books last night and have already made some headway in reading one.

I can highlight bits of writing, which is a lot better than me dog-earing books and sometimes forgetting to come back to snippets. Now with Kindle? I have a webpage, in where I can see what I’ve highlighted, write notes, see my own highlights, see other people’s public notes, and lots more. I forsee that right after I’m done reading, I can just save my highlights in Evernote, and I’ll have a digitally searchable copy of everything.

This changes the way I read. This changes the way I buy books (currently I bulk purchase them every couple of months, since I visit the United States pretty often). This also probably means I’ll have a lot less to carry in my travels.

The Kindle experience so far beats the iBooks experience for me. Of course, to buy a book, I’ve got to do it via a web browser and not in-app (thanks Apple for making life a little more difficult for me). Makes me wonder how much longer my Audible subscription will stay alive…

All that said, the iPad has become a whole lot more useful for me. And an iPad upgrade for myself to the iPad 2 has become a whole lot more appealing as well…

MoSync 2.4 pre-beta available with some juicy new features

I was rather thrilled this past week to note that the team at MoSync have released 2.4-pre-beta, with support for not only Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7, but also Apple Mac OS X 10.6. Goodbye Windows virtual machine, and hello native Mac app.

Check out the release notes, and you’ll also see some very interesting tid-bits. The largest request that I seem to hear from users is that they would like to target the iOS platforms. Apple iOS devices seem ubiquitous these days, and MoSync is now filling the gap. The highlights:

There’s also improved documentation, with example applications. Check out btServer (makes use of the Bluetooth features) and MapDemo (good example with various map sources).

While there are no binaries for Linux users, there is a guide on how to build MoSync using Ubuntu. I’ve not tried it recently, and the guide is a bit dated, but I expect it to work without too many issues.

Unexcited by Apple Music event announcements

Today I installed iTunes 10. Apple has stopped requiring you to reboot your computer the moment you get an iTunes upgrade – I consider this a plus point. Its now sporting a new logo, and things look a little more polished in the application.

iTunes PingNoticing no Ping, which seemed to be all the rage in the morning, I wondered what the cause might be. Quite clearly, you don’t get in on Ping, Apple’s new social network, if they don’t run an iTunes Music Store in your country! The moment I made the change to my US-based iTunes account, all seemed to be OK, and I could start playing around with Ping.

Then it became clearer why they didn’t want me to use Ping. “Each time you purchase, review, rate or like music on the iTunes Store, it will appear here” (so it said on my profile). At the moment, Ping does not fit my use case – I rip audio CDs that I purchase, and they have information within iTunes thanks to the CDDB database it syncs with. I have never purchased music from the iTunes Music Store, because I cannot be bothered with using a foreign credit card or looking for iTunes gift certificates.

Does this in any way hamper Probably a little, considering Ping is built-into iTunes. Plus you can follow your favourite artistes ;-) Does this mean people will quit for Ping? I find it highly unlikely. But is probably on their toes now, since there’s some overlap – concert recommendations, etc. Ping also is run within iTunes, you can’t use a web browser. There does not seem to be any API either.

Then, people got excited with Apple’s new Apple TV. I didn’t. Its not international. OK, not international enough. I can still buy the old Apple TV from the Malaysian or Singaporean Apple Store. The new ones seem to be available for sale in Australia, UK, the US, and probably a few other countries where you can rent/buy movies from the store.

The iPod Touch? Some good changes, but the camera isn’t all that hip. Good enough for FaceTime. Speaking of FaceTime, it is apparently based on open standards. Steve Jobs said something like it will be open. When will Apple release some information about how others can independently implement FaceTime? Or inter-operate with FaceTime?

Game Center looks interesting. Social gaming is going to be big (also, big in iOS4.1). The new iPhone 4’s don’t have iOS4.1 yet, but when the update comes (next week?), you will get Game Center too. And the iPod touch should be fast – sporting an A4 chip. Apple has successfully made devices do multiple things (iPod touch: music player, game machine, video conferencing tool, etc.). Would I buy one? I’m still too smitten with my iPad, so much so I haven’t used my 1st generation iPod Touch since April 2010!

The new iPod Nano looks cool. Its a pity they’ve removed the camera. And the shuffle, well, its a shuffle – I’ve never owned one.

So the Apple Music event turned out to mostly be a bummer, unless you live in a country where the iTunes Music Store is available.

Apple opens up Podcasts, iTunes U in Malaysia

I just noticed this: Apple now not only sells you apps in the AppStore in Malaysia, but you can also download podcasts and iTunes U content, using your Malaysian iTunes Store account. This is a big change, considering the directory was not available, this time last year. I believe this change is mostly international, across all iTunes stores.

Incidentally, you can now also buy iPad apps in the AppStore (yet, you cannot get an iPad from Apple or any of their authorised resellers; people are generally price gouging you now with their parallel imports). So what do you get in the Malaysian AppStore today?

  1. Apps: iPhone, iPad
  2. Podcasts
  3. iTunes U podcasts

So what’s missing? Music, Movies, TV Shows, and Audiobooks. I guess that’s stuff we should look forward to, in the future.

This could be big for podcasters in Malaysia/Singapore. Audio, video content can go into the directories. We’re getting faster Internet. And there are a lot of iOS-devices out there, which now may have yet another reason to use iTunes (and maybe purchase apps at the same time). Kudos Apple, we’ve waited long enough.