“The times they are a-changing,” Bob Dylan sang over 40 years ago. He was right then, and he’s still right. In the tech world, change moves at supersonic speed, and there is so much to keep up on that doing so can be a full-time job. Lets take a look at what’s happening to Windows and Mac OS X as a direct result of advances in “tablet tech.”
Tablet tech…small is (now) beautiful
When the first practical tablet devices debuted in the early 1990s – Apple’s Newton, the Palm Pilot and other Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) – they weren’t ready for prime time. The CPUs were slow, handwriting recognition was spotty and wireless didn’t exist. Just making room for batteries required a larger form factor, the predecessors of tablet PC rentals. It wasn’t until the first decade of the 21st century that WiFi, faster processors and new battery technology got small and inexpensive enough to usher in the “mobile computing era.”
In the mobile universe, screen space is limited (compared to your desktop’s monitor) so icon-based operation, whether via touchscreens like on an iPad rental or smart phone buttons, is a sensible approach. Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone (7.5 was just released) were all developed with ease of use in mind.
Icons, apps, constant connection
As devices began to proliferate and improve, special software programs (“apps”) were developed to do specific, focused tasks. While WiFi didn’t become a standard feature until just a couple of years ago, every device of every kind (and size) is now built to be “always on.” Expect your desktop OS – Mac, Windows and, to a lesser degree, Linux – to continue making communications and connectivity as easy, simple and fast as a phone. You will get a familiar “look and feel” whether you’re on a phone, a tablet/ipad or an iMac. At long last … convergence!
Many more small-device developments will find their way into both Windows and Mac OS X, but some are already visible in current releases. The latest Mac OS X release is Lion, 10.7, but it’s not the first to use elements of Apple’s iOS (now at version 5). The App Store is now, well, an app, permanently situated in the Dock, and like others in Lion it opens into “full screen” mode. With the newly inaugurated iCloud, which we wrote about recently, you can synchronize everything from work documents to iCal entries among all your devices, from the Mac Pro at your office to the iPhone in your pocket.