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There have plenty of rumors surrounding the launch of Google’s dropbox service called GDrive. These rumors are growing cold with no new news since the beginning of February.
Why I’m psyched out GDrive:
- Cheaper than iCloud
- Integration with all my Google stuffs: Gmail, Docs, Photos, etc.
- Automatic Sync with my computer (like a Dropbox feature)
- Plenty of storage (unlike iCloud)
- Easy access when I need it (unlike iCloud)
For me, as a Mac and iOS user, this product may actually lead to a giant conundrum: Apple or Google. I’ve been avoiding this fight for as long as I can. Google has made it easy for all my Mac products to work with Google products and services. However, I recently found that my Picasa photo software would no longer import photos from my iOS devices. I am trying iPhoto ’11 and thus far I HATE IT! Like iTunes and Safari, Apple has no clue what a power user wants when it comes to software.
Back on topic: If GDrive doesn’t sync well with all my Mac and iOS devices, I may actually begin to consider making the move to Android and maybe even a Chromebook.
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I think the rumored Mac iPad/iTablet (which I covet soo much) could possibly be the best computer ever made for students. I also think Apple already knows this… With news about an app that brings textbooks to the iPhone and an educational version of the iTablet rumored for deployment.
Here’s what I think the iPad/iTablet has for students and educational use:
- Textbooks: The biggest student expense, the biggest waste of materials. Everyone has expected for sometime that eventually textbooks would go all digital. It provides an inexpensive distribution system for publishers that would allow quicker delivery, innovation in they way topics are hyperlinked, and hopefully (eventually) Professor and student contributions and customization. Up until this point there has not been a ubiquitous device capable of delivering textbooks and like-materials… especially not one that has other uses (RIP expensive Kindle).
- Blogs, Wikis & shared Documents: Paper materials including notebooks, tests, and the aforementioned textbooks are moving to the web. With a device that you can carry with you anywhere and possible access the internet anywhere… why would you carry anything else? (Of course, I teach art so… paint, scissors, etc. can still fit in the backpack. Unless, the iTablet has a sketchbook/drawing app )
- Labs: Forget stocking every classroom with desktops or even wheeling in your “mobile lab”. For the right educational discount Mac could easily put an iPad in every student’s hand. (Battery life will be key here though.)
- Workstation: Another rumor floating around is that the iTablet will be able to access other Macs in the new lineup of Mac workstations. If the iTablet can do the mobile work, a student can walk up to any Mac workstation and continue the heavy lifting there (i.e. video editing, advanced computing software, etc.). This would be, again, a big reason to replace labs. The distance to a ‘master’ machine is crucial, but I could see Universities setting up master stations in a back room somewhere while students edit videos and work w/ 3D modeling software from their iTablets, unaware of the heavy computing being done elsewhere.
- Screen sharing: One of the things that will be ultimately needed in a classroom full of iTablets is center station with a projector where students would easily be able to share their screen and results of whatever it is they are being asked to do. Imagine a student performing a quick image search in my Drawing class and with a quick wave of their finger, splashing the images they found up onto the main projection monitor or even sending results to my/another student’s iTablet.
- Movies, music, & the iTunes market: Apple has known for years that if they market to the college crowd they can maintain that market long after they move out of that general demographic. Besides making it easier to “school”, the device will probably offer HD movies and music on the go. Somthing the iTablet will be great at. Does this mean App store out… more web apps in? I would think so.
- Price: I think the cheapest Macbook is running at $999. With a rumored price of $700-900, what student wouldn’t choose an iTablet over it? Sure, it’s more than a netbook but you can’t do xyz (most of the above) on a netbook.
As more Universities look to cut costs, deliver “blended learning” experiences (half online/half off), and stay on top of the digital horizon the iTablet as I see it could play a crucial role in education. Mac has done this before (Macintosh, iMac) and loves to sell its products to schools/Universities.
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In reaction to the growing rumors and daily posts such as: Apple Tablet Coming in 2010?, Will an Apple Tablet Run on Verizon’s Network?, and Apple iTablet: Will You Buy One?, I feel the need to express my ultimate desire for a computer such as the rumored iTablet, how it will help to change the landscape of computing, how it will replace all of my other devices, and make dreams of augmented realities come one day sooner.
First, tablet PCs have been around for quite a while. I remember trying one out several years ago. It was kind of heavy; not something you’d carry around all day. It also ran Windows XP, which may be the best OS ever made for PCs, it wasn’t designed for a tablet or touch computing. I’m an artist who loves to draw, so the first thing I played with was a sketchpad program that was installed. This was long before I had ever seen or heard of a Wacom Cintiq monitor.
What am I so excited about? Here’s my list:
- Any iTablet OS will have been based off of years of touch research done by Apple for the iPhone (unlike previous tablet PCs)
- It will run iPhone Apps and feed the already existing market
- It will promote cloud computing applications that take less memory and power to run on your computer (the future of application software)
- It will surely prompt clones from other hardware manufacturers (a catalyst for innovation- look at what iPhone did for touch screen phones)
- And hopefully a tablet equivalent running a Google Android OS (Google already ahead of the game in the cloud apps area, i.e. Google Docs)… Android being quite possibly the best OS for touchscreen devices
Furthermore, here’s what else will be remedied by an iTablet
- Laptotps: Have you actually tried to use a laptop on your lap lately? I’ve got a MacBook Pro and a Dell XPS (my work computers) and neither of them can be set on your actual legs for longer than 2 minutes. I’ve had to buy laptop fans every few months just to keep them cool. In other words, LAPTOPS aren’t for LAPS!
- Desktops: I like the memory and power of a desktop, but it can’t take it with me. I have two offices on campus, I commute 25 minutes to work, and I work (and teach online) from home during the summer. I need portability.
- Smartphones: are great, but I still get dirty looks in meetings when I use it to take notes, pull up stored Google Docs, emails, or search for info on the web. I’m a hardcore multi-tasker and if one thing iTablet could do for me… take away the impression I’m txt’ing WHEN I’m really working!
- Netbooks: They’re small, they’re cute, they’re cheap! Did I say they were too small? Watching a netbook user is like watching an ad made by the Alliance of Chiropractors and Optometrists Everywhere. The thing sits chained to a table or someones lap while their back folds in two and they squint to see what’s on screen. The keyboards aren’t comfortable either. I thought the Pepper handheld computer got it right when the split the keyboard up on both sides. Most people text on their phones with their thumbs… evolution at its best: opposable thumbs. I think this is the way typing should be designed on the iTablet, which if they don’t design it that way I’m sure an App will be made for that! (The images included in this post taken from PC World show a keyboard across the bottom. That’s just not going to work).
So I’m trying to say that… An iTablet Mac product would BE a computer built for me. Highly portable, highly functional.
- I’m thinking I’ll be able to plug it into an play MP3s while I drive to work… No more MP3 player needed.
- I’m hoping I will be able to use it with Skype (and maybe Google Voice?!), a Bluetooth headset, and mobile carrier dataplan (tuff chance with Apple denying the GVoice app from their store. It’s the first time I’ve ever said this… “Go FCC!”). In other words, goodbye smartphone.
- And since the only hardcore applications I still need (Photoshop, video editing software, and Second Life) are almost better run on a desktop anyway… Can I say goodbye laptop? Photoshop is moving to cloud computing or being replaced by online competitors like Pixlr.com. Advanced video editing done in the cloud is only a few more years away, but simple video editing can already be done on sites like JayCut. Second Life and other virtual worlds or mmorpgs are not quite on smartphones yet and an iTablet may be just the thing needed close the gap to mobile virtual worlds and hardcore online games.
What will suck? I mean it can’t all be glorious right?
- Apple: Control and politics. I don’t own an iPhone but I know how tightly Apple controls what works and doesn’t work on the iPhone. I only hope that an iTablet would have as much open development and free products as OSX.
- $$: It’s not going to be easy on my pocketbook to personally get one of these. Even at the rumored $600-800 pricetag, that’s more than I was planning to spend on anything else this year. For someone who has never bought an iPod or iPhone but loves the idea of a device like this, I wonder if I’ll be able to afford the extras (Apps! Car charger, mobile re-charger, etc.) I’m sure the first extra I buy will be a string to carry the thing around my neck at all times, lol! But I’m serious, I’ll never put the thing down.
- Mobile Carrier: The worst thing about the iPhone is AT&T right? Whoever Apple partners with to carry data plans for this thing had better be prepared! They made a mistake picking AT&T as their phone carrier and have had poor coverage and customer service ever since. Will they make the same mistake twice?
- First Generation iTablet: It seems the smartest people in tech (on a budget like me) are always saying, hold off and get the second generation… It works better, faster, with less bugs. I’m so geeked about getting an iTablet, there’s no way I’m waiting. So bring on the bugs.
- We haven’t seen or heard any of specs yet. Memory? Speed? Camera? Video? Heck we don’t even know what size the thing will be. If there’s one thing I would expect, it’s that it has every bell and whistle of the latest generation iPhone. The one thing I would request: A video/camera on BOTH sides of the display. Hold it up and shoot a picture of what’s in front of me while also broadcasting webcam video of my ugly mug to a site like Ustream.tv at the same time. Dreamy.
Finally, until they develop a set of glasses that augment reality (and eventually nanites), an iTablet would again close the gap between what is the ideal future of computing and what is capable right now on mobile platforms; giving more power to the augmented reality devloper… A current hot topic. I think apps like the one in the video below are just the beginning, an iTablet would make augmented reality a reality sooner.