If you read my previous musings about the last Apple product event, you will have realized by now that I look at what Apple does in two ways.
First they make hardware. Make no mistake, this is the purpose of their company. All their software products exist to sell hardware. Therefore, in my opinion they spend a little bit more effort on the hardware than on the software.
MacBook Pro - Wow what a nice laptop. The redesigned laptop line is probably the best one ever designed. It’s powerful, thin, and has a new display with four times the resolution. Even so, it is not revolutionary. It’s evolutionary. Many tech sites in the past few weeks have basically guessed what the refresh would be and most were right. We saw this one coming so while the new MacBook Pro is an object of geek lust, it’s not going to change the world.
Software is what is changing the world these days. Apple does have some decent software technology especially in the interface realm but really they aren’t that special. Google and Microsoft (yes Microsoft has been doing better lately) are giving them a run for their money. There were a lot of announcements in the software category so let’s go over a few and see which ones will affect education.
Apple Maps - This is also not a surprise. Apple has dumped Google Maps on their devices and replaced it with their own technology (based on buying a few companies). This is great news because it will force Google to innovate as well. To paraphrase Yoda, “Begun, these Map Wars have”. Hee hee. The big movement right now in computers is to begin to tie Internet data to the real world. You can do this is a variety of ways, but using a map applications is a big one. As a provider you can put layers of extra data (like ads) on the results. Whoever controls the map, controls the extra data, and Apple loves being in control. This technology will rapidly advance, but I think Google has the advantage simply because they care more.
Mountain Lion - Apple refreshed their computer OS. Nothing too important in this update but they did add a voice recognition capability called Dictation that looks nice. You can see that they really want you to start talking to your devices rather than use a physical input. I don’t think people are sold on it yet but Apple will keep pushing it.
iCloud- They are adding some new features for iCloud so that’s nice. Basically though these features should have been in it from the beginning.
iOS/Siri – iOS6 is another evolutionary product but it seems to improve things nicely in a few areas. I really like how Siri is going to be on iPads (not on my original iPad though, poop). Siri is the only thing in the whole announcement that makes a difference to education. You can see my previous thoughts here but basically they are giving Siri more things it can do. It can now find sport scores, movie times, etc… plus it can launch apps just by saying their name. That’s pretty cool but Siri still has a critical flaw: It runs in a sandbox. What I means is that there are certain apps that are integrated with it, but if you go outside the predetermined ones it will then do a web search for info. In other words, it is only smart in a very limited arena. This will change I think. One day soon we will have a truly smart assistant on our phones that will watch what we do and help us out in smart ways. This will revolutionize learning. It’s not here yet though so rest easy teachers, you won’t be replaced quite yet.