Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
Everyone talked about what hardware Apple would introduce. None of the buzz was about software. Yet a major part of today's announcement are the new iMovie and Garage Band apps for the iPad. The description of Garage Band is awesome — with a bunch of different instruments, 8-track recording and mixing, over 250 loops, and more. The keyboard actually has dynamics: touch it hard for a louder sound. How on earth did they do that?
Steve Jobs also introduced new apps for the iPad, including an amazingly robust version of iMovie ($4.99, available March 11). You can use the iPad to shoot and edit movies. Then you can use either AirPlay or the new HDMI port to play the move at 1080p on your HDTV. Wow. Apple is so far ahead of the competition. Whereas the iPad had been labeled as a device for consuming rather than creating, the new iPad 2 is clearly headed toward being a powerful tool for creating content.
There were rumors that Steve Jobs might appear at the press conference, but no one expected him to host. Yet there he was, leading the show just as he's always done — and introducing the iPad 2. It's twice as fast, with a dual core processor. And graphics-intensive applications are up to 9 times faster. As expected, it has front- and rear-facing cameras. It's one-third thinner (even thinner than the iPhone 4), is two-tenths of a pound lighter. It now has a built-in gyroscope. The price structure is the same as before, starting at $499. And, surprise, it's available in white as well as black.
One amazing thing about Macworld was to get demos of under-the-radar apps and see how good they are. You begin to realize that there are many unheralded gems. One such demo was iFiles ($2.99). It is primarily a file manager. That in itself was impressive — seeing a hierarchical system of files like I might view in my Mac's finder. It was as if suddenly there was a new window onto the iPhone. And it lets you manage not just the files on your iOS device, but also across multiple accounts in the cloud, such as Flickr, Google Docs, MobileMe, Dropbox, Box.net, and more.
One of the stranger experiences I had at Macworld was a guy who walked into our booth and threw his iPad on the floor. I mean, he didn't just drop it — he really threw it. And thanks to the attached iBallz, it just bounced around, no harm done. Check out the video. This accessory has a lot of other uses too, as the video shows, including as a stand. If I were letting a young child use my iPad, I absolutely would not do it unless this accessory was attached.
It's fun watching the rumors about MobileMe, knowing that something is in the works, that it'll be better in marked ways, and that, just maybe, it will also be free. AppleInsider has the latest news, including the fact that Apple has discontinued the sale of MobileMe. Also, the AppleInsider report says that Apple told its shareholders in attendance at the recent annual meeting that its new $1 billion data center in North Carolina is ready to open.
The recent success of Project Watson, an IBM computer, in demolishing the two all-time most successful champions on the Jeopardy quiz show has focused attention on the coming of natural language understanding to computers — and to our iPhones. The trick has been to teach a computer not just to search databases of information but to understand natural human language. Imagine how convenient that would be: you'd never have to type a query or tap your phone's screen again.