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Has 2012 been the year of bidirectional data? [Dec. 26th, 2012|06:03 pm]
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[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Celtic Portraits - John Mock]

I just had an interesting thought: the most innovative trend recently in computing hasn't been the move to mobile, but rather, the seamless transition between devices. For instance, a year ago, there wasn't a common Notes app that synced data between your Mac and your phone and tablet. But now, you can create content on the desktop and have it appear where you expect it with a similar if not congruent interface on a different form-factor device.

On the one hand, this should not be some great revelation; on the other hand, I think that there is a lot of value in this idea. It enables a person to be more efficient because it drives the time-cost down. For example, I can make a to-do list on a machine with a full-sized keyboard say on either my desktop or laptop and view it on my phone without having to manually sync data between the two.

Yes, many applications have done this for a while now using Dropbox to take care of the syncing while still fewer applications providing their own syncing services (i.e. Evernote, Wunderlist). Add to this fact that you can hook up a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard to either the iPhone or the iPad, and you now have a very mobile device with perhaps the biggest advantage that a laptop or desktop offers over a more-mobile solution.

This isn't to say that you can't go mobile only if you don't have some "desktop" app that is critical to your core competency; many people have–heck, an entire novel was written on an iPhone without a physical keyboard. (That's a little too ambitious for me at this point. But it just goes to show that it can be done in a pinch.)

And it isn't to say that this bi-directional flow of not just raw data, but presentation and manipulation of that data can't work outside of Apple's ecosystem. I can't give any empirical examples, but I know that there are Android apps out there that either sync with Dropbox or provide their own syncing services. Evernote comes to mind as well as Google Docs (though I wonder, are there Google Doc apps for Android? If so, how well do they work?)

Retrospectively, 2010 was the year of going mobile. 2012 was the year of bidirectional presentation and manipulation of data in that data's respective apps. Will 2013 be the year of understanding what it means to always have your data with you and building some hither-to unthought of innovation that further still drives down time-costs?

This is an interesting time to be alive.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: gradumacated
2012-12-28 04:48 am (UTC)

Interesting Time to be Alive

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It's always an interesting time to be alive!

You've certainly made some interesting points, and I think they're well worth considering. It does seem that the inter-relatedness and connectivity between platforms is a growing trend to watch - you just need to see what Microsoft has done with Windows 8 on their PC platform and mobile platform to notice that.

That said, Liz and I got a new PC recently - an HP Envy to help her with her technical editing coursework. She's still an Apple-phobe, so no iMac, unfortunately. With it came Windows 8, and while it seems OK, the new Start screen certainly takes some getting used to. It's not easy to shut it down, at any rate.

With Microsoft pushing developers to develop programs and apps that are purely touch-based, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens to the point-and-click interface. Right now, as much as I enjoy change, I would prefer to keep the point-and-click interface as the primary means of interacting with desktops for right now.
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 04:58 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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It's always an interesting time to be alive!
I would argue it all depends on which end of the stick you're on–ask the Jews if 1936-1945 was an "interesting time" to be alive. I trow if there is any agreement, it is not because it was a really interesting time for them, but rather they use the term as a polite euphemism.
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 05:08 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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You've certainly made some interesting points, and I think they're well worth considering.
Thank you, Sir.

It does seem that the inter-relatedness and connectivity between platforms is a growing trend to watch - you just need to see what Microsoft has done with Windows 8 on their PC platform and mobile platform to notice that.
I would argue that Microsoft is the weakest example you could have picked. But I digress.

She's still an Apple-phobe, so no iMac, unfortunately.
You can lead a blonde to water but you can't make her drink.

Read my post where i talk about the Christmas gift I have put together for my parents (though I expect my mother will become the primary user). There's a stick and carrot approach to this: I've removed the cost of entry for her–the device is already bought and paid for. I will be selling the benefits–Verizon connectivity, ability to mirror device to the TV wirelessly). The carrot is having to learn Windows 8, buying a Surface, learning Surface, being caught in the nightmare that is the artist formerly known as Metro.

Meanwhile, there is an ulterior motive at play: if she embraces the benefits enough and learns the iPad, she will already know how to use an iPhone. And if she likes the iPad enough, her next phone will be an iPhone.
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 05:17 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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With Microsoft pushing developers to develop programs and apps that are purely touch-based
Firstly, I don't believe that Microsoft is doing that for a number of reasons:


  • Windows 8 ins't popular enough of a platform to force developers to support the new paradigm.

  • So long as legacy apps are supported, there is no stick to beat the developer with to goad the developer to embrace this new touch paradigm.

  • Microsoft doesn't have an extensive enough library system (API) for the artist formally known as Metro nor are developers embracing the existing libraries for that UI.

  • Human beings were designed to have their arms outstretched for long periods of time; ergo, touch-screen desktops/laptops are certainly NOT the holy grail. If you want to do touch, it has to be horizontal, not vertical.



while it [Windows 8] seems OK
Really? That's the best you've got? "OK"? That hardly has the same ring to it as "Awesome!" "Magic!" "It just works!"

the new Start screen certainly takes some getting used to. It's not easy to shut it down, at any rate.
If memory serves correctly, you have to click or touch something three times to shut the computer down. The path to the Control Panel is seven interactions long.

There's a better way…
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 05:30 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens to the point-and-click interface.
I have already rebutted your claim with the irrelevant leading parenthetical clause, I will now look at this statement by itself.

I don't think point and click is going anywhere any time soon? Why? It goes back to what Steve Jobs said when he introduced the iPhone:

So, we’re going to reinvent the phone. Now, we’re going to start with a revolutionary user interface. It is the result of years of research and development, and of course, it’s an interplay of hardware and software. Now, why do we need a revolutionary user interface. Here’s four smart phone, right? Motorola Q, the BlackBerry, Palm Treo, Nokia E62 — the usual suspects. And, what’s wrong with their user interfaces? Well, the problem with them is really sort of in the bottom 40 there. It’s this stuff right there. They all have these keyboards that are there whether or not you need them to be there. And they all have these control buttons that are fixed in plastic and are the same for every application. Well, every application wants a slightly different user interface, a slightly optimized set of buttons, just for it. And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can’t run around and add a button to these things. They’re already shipped. So what do you do? It doesn’t work because the buttons and the controls can’t change. They can’t change for each application, and they can’t change down the road if you think of another great idea you want to add to this product.

Well, how do you solve this? Hmm. It turns out, we have solved it! We solved in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse.


We're stuck with a pointing device for the foreseeable future. The way we interface with computers will have to change. This means controlling a computer either via voice, eye movement, pure thought or gestures. Well, other than with thought (which is a VERY difficult problem to solve) I don't see how you're going to effectively input non-human language text i.e. no one wants to talk to program. And what if you're a typographer laying out a piece that uses a lot of special math symbols? How do you get a terminal to recognize pronounceable *nix comands/paths (chown, chmod, and /etc [pronounced et-see] immediately come to mind.)

No, computing–not general usage, but the stuff that really makes these devices tick–are still going to have a way for you to create input with your fingers for eons to come.
[User Picture]From: gradumacated
2012-12-28 06:11 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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It's not necessarily irrelevant; Microsoft ARE pushing developers to focus more on touch-screen applications for the desktop, and a number of computer companies - HP, Vaio, Asus, Gateway, to name a few, are already releasing all-in-one solutions predicated around touch-screen interfaces.

Whether or not they're successful remains to be seen, but it's not quite as irrelevant as you think it is.

While not irrelevant, a better word may be "fad" or "gimmick" - much like the netbook fad of a few years ago, which have been replaced by the various tablets.
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 06:22 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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We can only talk about the netbook being a "fad" or "gimmick" in hindsight. Let's not forget that was a market that was growing so much and so fast only a few year ago that no one could have imagined a world without netbooks. Now, almost four years since netbooks stormed the market, they have virtually ceased to exist and have been replaced by tablets. And by tablets, I mean a singular tablet–the iPad.

Not convinced? these two links paint a very vivid picture.
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-12-28 05:32 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting Time to be Alive

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This comment is also germane to our discussion.