Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Apple iPad and Embedded Computing in the Cloud

We should have seen it coming, really. We have already imagined it in science fiction. People in the Star Trek universe or the Babylon 5 universe (or any of them really) never sat down and used desktop computers. Capt. Picard had a display on his desk but it was mostly used for communications.

I'm talking about the end of the desktop computer as we know it. I'm talking about the end of file systems that are a hierarchical system of folders and files that the user has to wade through. Spock and McCoy carried tricorders that served specific functions. The multi-purpose computer doesn't exist in the future (as we've envisioned it).

What does this have to do with the iPad Apple announced this week? As shown, it had no use for a file system, much the same way the iPod Touch and iPhone have lived without a file system. Documents are created and managed via the apps that are used rather than through a Finder-like app. While this is somewhat limiting, it (I believe) is the direction that things are headed. The only people that care about full-desktop computers will be programmers who write the code for these embedded devices.

Embedded devices also work better with cloud computing. Dragon Dictation for the iPhone records your voice, uploads to a server which then sends back the spoken text for you to use. I believe we'll see more of these kinds of "service" apps on the iPad. I'm not even sure that digital artists and video editors will need a Mac anymore. It all depends on the app support, really.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. But for now, it looks like computing may head in a new direction.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Looks like I predicted Siri early 2010! I didn't remember this post.