Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interactivity - New Possibilities with Apple Technology

Here are the top three recent Apple technologies I am excited about: iBooks, Siri and iCloud.

1. iBooks 2.0: Multitouch Textbooks

iBooks was reportedly Apple's #1 iCloud-enabled app, it was developed even before iCloud was announced. The idea of iBooks was to let you download a book, synchronize bookmarks, highlights and notes between devices. With iBooks 2.0, Apple goes much further. iBooks now supports images, videos, links and other media - valuable new elements that make textbooks interactive. The textbooks are encoded in HTML5 and Javascript. The word goes that Apple has three major publishers onboard - Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin. It's also said that all iBooks will sell for under $15.

Apple's iBooks Author is a wysiwyg editor app that lets you create and publish searchable multitouch books for iPad. It appears to have fairly basic authoring capability with preview and publishing to pdf or HTML5. The level of interactivity is also basic, and includes custom glossary, quizzes and review questions, study cards, thumbnail navigation, annotations, highlighting, notes, multitouch interface and embedded graphics.

2. Siri : Conversational Interaction
Siri is Apple's intelligent voice recognition application. Siri is an intelligent assistant for iPhone 4S that makes calls, sends text or sets an alarm for you. It can not only understand when you say "Where can I get Italian food nearby" but also talks back. The overall experience is like having a conversation.

That said, there are many people who are not yet fully comfortable with the idea of talking interfaces. There are several inhibitors - accents included.

3. iCloud : Seamlessly Integrated User Experience Across Devices

Apart from saving the hassle of keeping a phone and a computer in sync, iCloud goes further by allowing a whole new set of features in applications that create a seamless user experience. You can edit a document on a PC and continue your editing where you left off on an iPad. You can take a picture on an iPhone and see it instantly through PhotoStream on a MacBook Pro.

Needless to say, you enjoy the benefits of iCloud as long as you live in the Apple world. You must use Apple devices.

Although these new technologies come with their limitations, they signal a beginning in the right direction from an interactivity perspective. Also there are interesting parallels between Apple's technologies discussed here and Amazon's technologies discussed in an earlier post in this blog. It will be interesting to see how the competitive games get played.