Science & Tech
Trends at this year’s Macworld | iWorld conference
In retrospect, it seems as if the Mac in Macworld | iWorld took a backseat at this year’s conference. Based on the sheer number of products, it’s apparent that the latter part of Macworld | iWorld reigns supreme. Simply put, it isn’t the same infamous Macworld that it was three years ago. There are plenty of amazing products and unprecedented innovation, but it lacks the Mac focus that it once had. For example, itsMobile App Showcase is significantly larger than the OS X Zone, which focuses on software for the Mac. In many ways, this aligns with Apple’s success, too. Sales of iPads and iPhones exponentially outsell Mac computers. Still, it wouldn’t shock me if it suddenly becomes “iWorld” and they drop the Macworld name altogether.
The App Revolution
Apps are everywhere. We use them to book dinner reservations, create PowerPoint slides and even record studio-quality music tracks. As devices like the iPad become more powerful, iPad apps will begin to catch up with MacOS X type programs, such as Final Cut Pro. Our tablets and smartphones are gaining more desktop-like functionality every iteration. You couldn’t miss the influx of mobile apps at Macworld | iWorld -- they were everywhere.
Inadvertently, Smartphone manufacturers opened a huge market when they went the touchscreen route. Apparently folks don’t like dirty or scratched screens… go figure. Two companies stand out in this field: PowerSupportuSA and Dynatron. I could see attendees at Macworld | iWorld 2012 cringe when the folks at InvisibleSHEILD sprayed their devices with water. Fortunately, PowerSupportUSA uses screen protectors that adhere to the devices without needing any solution. Dynatron is one of the first spray-on screen guards that actually works. You apply the solution using a microfiber cloth, and it creates a coating on the device that protects it from scratches.
I don’t think I’ve seen so many iPad cases in my life! Everyone and their mother were showcasing iPad cases at Macworld | iWorld. Two emerging trends within the realm of iPad cases are waterproof and functional designs. Several companies, including Watershed, revealed cases that let you use your iPad underwater. Or, perhaps a bit more realistically, out by the pool or Jacuzzi. Cases are becoming more practical, too. Several companies debuted models with built-in grips or straps so you can hold the iPad securely in one hand.
Stands and Docks
Apparently in order to use an iPad you need a case, screen protector and a dock or stand. What’s wrong with just holding the tablet? A lot, I guess. Companies want to relieve you of the difficult task of holding your iPad while reading, watching movies, or playing Angry Birds. The most durable docks are built out of metal or aluminum, whereas the less expensive options primarily use plastic. The two types of docks at Macworld | iWorld were multimedia ones with speakers and stands, designed to hold your iPad in an optimal position.
Mobile Speakers and Headphones
Surprisingly, there were a slew of mobile speakers at Macworld | iWorld. Yet, to my surprise, there were few AirPlay compatible devices. Keeping with Apple’s minimalistic design, companies opted for smaller, sleeker devices… they’re a far cry from the 1970s bookshelf boomboxes. Mobile speakers are beginning to sound better than some inexpensive surround sound setups. The same innovation is also being applied to headphones, which leverage 3D sound technology for an immersive user experience.
Before Macworld | iWorld, I was under the impression that standalone scanners were dead-on-arrival thanks to the all-in-one printer. Neat, Iris, Fujitsu and Doxie proved me wrong! Rather than the flatbed scanners of yesteryear, we’re seeing a new fleet of mobile-ready scanners to tackle the field. Desktop scanners, however, abandoned the flatbed layout in lieu of a auto document feeder, which quickly scans multiple pages.
Lenses for iPhone
One of the most interesting innovations is how manufacturers are expanding the iPhone’s camera functionality by creating lenses. Similar to how you’d change out a digital SLR camera’s lens, the device adheres onto the camera, improving your field of view. Depending on the price, some lenses used a vacuum-seal mechanism, and others used a more advanced case-based system. With these lenses, it’s possible the SLR is iPhone’s next target.
With Macworld | iWorld officially coming to a close, what can Apple fans look forward to next? In the coming months, we expect the Cupertino-based company to unveil the iPad 3. Keeping with their product refreshes, it’s also safe to say we’ll see updates to their MacBook Pros towards August and an iPhone 5 in September or October. Be sure to follow Allvoices year-round for the latest Apple coverage.
For more of Allvoices' coverage of Macworld | iWorld 2012, check out allvoices.com/macworld2012.