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On the Circuit

Mar 14, 2012 3:15 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart

We went to press with this issue on March 8, the day after Apple’s event, at which the company announced the new iPad-without-a-name, as well as a new release of iOS (5.1) and a new Apple TV.

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We went to press with this issue on March 8, the day after Apple’s event, at which the company announced the new iPad-without-a-name, as well as a new release of iOS (5.1) and a new Apple TV. In terms of the tablet, the big news focused on the new high-resolution Retina display which quadrupled the number of pixels to 2,048x1,536 pixels. By all accounts, it is stunning.

Other than that, the most important elements of the news had to do with the world beyond the device—the world that is rapidly changing through iPads and other tablets. For example, the fact that the new iPad is 4G can only hasten the demand for 4G.

The technical press has been flush with Apple for months—profits, factory scandals, textbook-killing tablets, patent wars, etc. Apparently 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing iPads, so is the Air Force; various companies are dropping Blackberry in favor of iPhone, including some government agencies. Apple devices represented the largest proportion of the $144 billion consumer sales in 2011.

And in the real world, iPads (and other tablets) seem to be everywhere in every demographic. The day before the Apple announcements, I was at Digital Signage Expo, which was full of tablets, or displays influenced by tablets—or in one case, a 5-foot-tall display shaped like an iPhone. Almo Pro AV is carrying iRoom’s inwall iPad docking station, and even Samsung’s big interactive table, Samsung Surface, owes plenty to the iOS experience. X2O Media has fitted its social media cube with near-field communication that allows the display device to recognize you from your iPhone and display personalized content.

The ubiquity of the iOS GUI has even extended to Microsoft: The new Windows 8 is not an iOS clone; it’s really its own thing, however in its own way, it’s all about touchscreen-friendly.

One of the most interesting announcements was a new app called Apple Configurator, which seems to be Apple’s bone to beleaguered IT managers who have to accommodate everybody’s home iOS devices on the work or school network. The Configurator app is a tip of the hat to professional integration of these devices—it gives administrators the ability to backup and restore devices, apply custom settings, and install new apps. Also, users will be able to have their personal settings restored when checking out a device and have it all removed again when they check the device back in.

To my eye, tablets and iOS are having both technical and cultural influences on pro AV. Of course we all use the devices too, so we know this. This month we’re starting to look at the tablet phenomena by zeroing in on some key differences—including I/O—between Apple and Android tablets.

I do think it’s just slightly ironic that so many people are running around with touchpanels in their hands. Me included. My daughter just called down from her room and asked me to turn on her fan with my phone. I do like having a control system interface in my pocket.

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