Something sort of hit me in the head while reading the New York Times as Bob Marley played into my earphones: I have no visual or performance signs that a song is playing other than the music entering my head. It just works.

It’s just another day where I board the train and head home with an iPhone, iPad and MacBook in my bag. Since buying the iPad, I prefer it to the other three devices in nearly every situation except blogging, which still requires a real keyboard and at least a 13″ screen.

Something sort of hit me in the head while reading the New York Times as Bob Marley played into my earphones: I have no visual or performance signs that a song is playing other than the music entering my head. Bob Marley is singing “No Woman, No Cry” and the iPad doesn’t signal to me that it’s actually doing that, which feels magical, but it made me think about the future and how Apple  is shaping it.

In 2001, my iBook G3’s 500Mhz CPU would be 50 percent utilized while playing high quality music through the speakers. That number has dropped to basically zero while playing the same song on my Core i7 iMac, but iTunes is still open, taking up screen space even if it’s minimized or hidden. I know iTunes is open but the way I interact with iTunes hasn’t changed since iTunes 1.0 was released 10 years ago. The way my Macintosh organizes folders, plays music, and manages windows is unchanged, and it still takes a certain technical proficiency to understand this even if it is an easy-to-use Mac.

Today, while music played on my iPad and I was reading the news story, I thought about how there’s nothing showing a song is playing other than a play icon at the top of the screen. When I change the page or zoom in to a photo, nothing about the iPad’s performance is compromised, even if that song is heavily compressed. Music is playing, and my iPad doesn’t mind.

No other consumer electronics company has done this.

That’s a bold statement coming from a guy that uses Apple products almost exclusively, but I’ve been looking for a product like this for years. The iPod did this, but when you clicked a button on the device, it would show you the currently playing song. It was single-purpose, even if it did come with a way to view your calendars (only view, not change). Devices like my Palm Treo did this, but the music app would crash, and browsing the web would have a 50 percent cut in performance while playing music. Yes, it’s been four years, and the Treo was much slower with fewer resources, but Apple has set us on course to a point where our kids won’t have that feeling of, “I shouldn’t open my web browser because the music might skip.” For those of you who used the original iPhone extensively, music skipping was very common when hitting the phone with heavy tasks.

I didn’t see a huge change in how we interacted with technology until Apple came along with iOS and shook things up. The Mac and Windows experiences feel dated. There are power, usefulness and capabilities that iOS (and yes even Android devices) can’t do now, but it won’t be long before they can. In 2007, iPhone was cutting edge for having a tough screen that worked. These days, I can FaceTime with friends, download movies over the air, read the news as it happens, and always know the answer to what guy played in that movie within the time it would take to boot up the ole’ Mac and fire up Safari. Grab iPhone, slide to unlock, click Safari and search.

I don’t give Apple all of the credit, but this is TheAppleBlog, so it’s good to highlight everything Apple got right that set us in this direction. Who was going to change things and set us onto the next era of computing? Microsoft is still introducing product flops (ie. Microsoft Kin) and Google’s business model is to create and leverage technologies in order to target ads to you. I can’t think of another company other than Apple that’s continued to pioneer the technology experience. Cisco is a distant 4th, but it’s too busy powering the entire Internet to make consumer electronics. Sadly, Sony (c sne) has become more irrelevant as simply “expensive” and not as breakthrough as it was in the 90s. I still buy Sony TVs, but only because it’s Sony and not because it’s doing anything truly remarkable over Panasonic or Vizio.

Apple has set itself apart in the way it’s brought power to elegance — where the design of the software and form factor of the hardware fades away, and all you’re doing is sitting on a train, reading a news article while listening to a song. Of course, now that I think about it, that 3G connection to AT&T is ticking along as well. There was no application I had to pull up to initiate the connection (like on Mac OS or Windows 7), and there’s no thought to it. As soon as I leave the office, my Wi-Fi connection there drops and 3G starts. This kind of experience is something we all assume would be common in 2010 but you’d be surprised how many devices simply don’t do this in a way that the consumer can consume with no awareness of what’s going on behind the scenes.

I don’t know what it is but, with Apple technology, I feel the future. It’s not a stylus smartphone with a hardware keyboard; it’s not a 24″ tall tower with a big power button on the front; and it’s not a mouse with a cord attached and a floppy disk that makes this wretched click sound while reading and writing data. Apple doesn’t have any of that, and it’s chosen to integrated technologies into an experience that no other company has.

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  1. You know, it’s kind of acceptable that on a 3.5″ screen I can only do one thing at a time (even though I look at other devices and see them multitasking pretty smoothly), but on a 10″ screen, it’s pretty near unacceptable that I can’t read this post and reply to IMs at the same time. And don’t get me started on the little system modal box in the center of the screen for every single little notification that I have to dismiss manually.

    If that’s the future… Apple can keep it, and I’ll stick to my pre-emptive multitasking past.

    *hugs Macbook*

    1. So, you’re incapable of looking a month or two into the future?

      Work on Wall Street, eh?

    2. Wow, impatient much? Jesus. Newsflash! OS4 is coming to the iPad this fall. Take a pill and chill out. Or how about this? PAY ATTENTION TO THE TECH BLOGS!!!

      1. Far as I can see, I still have to break out of reading this article in Safari, switch to Beejive, and then come back to respond to an IM that comes in on iOS4 on the 3GS. The only thing is that it’s slightly faster than on iPhone OS 3.

        How is that true multitasking? Like System 7 was multitasking capable? Never met people as full of fail as you twats.

  2. Seven or eight years ago a Windows developer friend of mine was over and I had Digital Performer running with a 50-track song loaded up. He watched and listened for a bit and commented on how smoothly it was running with no audio glitches or application pauses. He was even more impressed when I told him that I was burning a DVD at the same time. I then began a big FTP upload, pulled up Photoshop to do a 600dpi scan, and then started browsing the web, all while the 50-track song was playing. When he saw all of that working simultaneously he was completely blown away.

    1. He should have probably used better hardware then.

    2. Colonel John T. Hammer Barry Saturday, July 31, 2010

      Preemptive multitasking is one of the Mac OS X (Unix-based kernel) best features compared to the much weaker Windows 7 (DEC VMS-based kernel). It is actually a very common occurrence that a Windows developer gets blown away by the sheer power of the Mac operating system once they view it objectively. Microsoft has been stealing features from MacOS for years. They admitted that most Windows 7 new features where inspired by the two years old Mac OS X (tiger) so plenty of Windows engineers truly worship the Apple OS make no mistake about this.

      1. link these supposed facts please? or it is not true at all if you can provide proof…

      2. Windows has had preemptive multitasking since Windows NT in the early 90s. Way before OS X came out.

      3. Trolling or stupidity?

        You, the audience, decide.

  3. Lorie Ghamy Friday, July 30, 2010

    Each Time i want to work on my iPad and listing streamed radio (FSTream app), iOS open iWork or Keynote but shutdow the audio app. I tried others similar apps, and that’s always the same world of silence.

    Truly magical, shaping not the future for boring work sessions.
    I was able to share streamed radio and others tasks with my old TC1100 Tablet PC in 2003. Oh and the 10′ screen was a glass one , with nô mirror surface and no crazy smudges. Amazing ! Revolutionnary !

    Back to the future

    1. Lorie you will soon be able to heavily multitask on your beloved iPad this fall with the arrival of iOS4 on the pad. Apple also has many more surprises for your iPad in the coming months that will certainly be shaping the future for you. Enjoy your Apple experience because it is only going to get better with my colleagues in Cupertino working hard to satisfy all your computing and entertainment needs.

      1. oh yesss, more surprises are good…you mean like the iphone 4 antenna problems??? great…another wonderful apple experience…

  4. No usb, multitasking is a joke, small hard drive, no way to upgrade memory, no direct printing, etc. etc. etc.

    Sure, if less is more, than it sounds like the future to me. That and being told what you can do by Steven Jobs.

    Anyone who loves freedom should be wary of someone who tells them what they can or can’t do…

    1. It’s so obvious by your ranting that Steve is like totally smarter than you. I do mean totally. Bye dummy.

      1. and it sounds like by your ranting that you think that jobs is smarter than you, too.

    2. “Anyone who loves freedom…” Har!

      Afraid that someone who prefers the convenience of Apple designs is controlling your vote?

      I better buy more tinfoil stock.

      1. dude talk about reading too deep. I think he means that mr. jobs is controlling what you can or can’t do with the devices you purchase, thus taking away your freedom to decide what to use on your own device. i don’t think it is meant in a political way, but you know what, if that is the context you choose to read it in, so be it. IF you don’t want the freedom to make up your own mind about what to run on your devices, fine.

        you don’t need more tinfoil stock, you just need to keep the blinds on.

      2. i agree. steve has just given us so much, we need to be very respectful of such a great man. yes brother, the sensation of using an apple product is like no other. indeed it is a blessing. i will NEVER abandon my brothers by using anything else.

      3. RaChElRaYoFsUnShInE eideard Sunday, August 1, 2010

        I can tell you are a very wise man… what other wisdom can you impart, oh cynical one?

      4. RaChElRaYoFsUnShInE eideard Sunday, August 1, 2010

        eideard, that is. he is the wise one. not the other peeps.

      5. Well Eideard, why do you think so many people are “jailbreaking” their devices?

        I think that the above poster may have made it sound a bit corny, but I also think that you know what he meant, and are taking it out of context, like someone else mentioned.

        “controlling your vote…” Har! I don’t think anybody here meant anything political, or at least not the way you mean…

  5. “It’s not a 24″ tower with a big button on the front”

    It is if it’s a Mac Pro.

    Your wishful thinking is sweet but reality has a different view. Apple still release flops – the Apple TV and Shuffle 3 spring to mind – and us Euros were browsing the web, listening to music and checking our e-mails back in 2005 on our Nokias and Sony Ericssons.

    The iPad is nice. The future of computing though? Not a chance in hell.

  6. I fully disagree: Apple is shaping our present.

  7. But a word of caution. About 14 (?) years ago, Lotus Development was making some incredibly innovative and delightful software. There was a great database implementation (the name of which I forget) and a cool collaboration tool (Lotus Notes, maybe?) They also created Agenda, a truly brilliant DOS database program (yeah, I’m that old)

    Fortunately, Apple is big enough that the market won’t be bought out from under them (as it was for Lotus), but you never know.

    Nonetheless, it is true that Apple is crafting some really new ways to access and use information. Good for them, and may they keep it up. It’s really fun stuff!

  8. Apple is the future. And the future in now. That is why they are the largest technology company in the world. Apple leads….everyone follows…this is just how it is these days.
    The more comments I read here the more I understand why Steve is right on so many levels. The iPad is blowing up big time and world wide and nobody can deny this. 99 percent of remarks against iPad are from people that don’t have one or are extremely jealous and deep down want one themselves.

    iPad FTW

    1. amen my apple brother! steve will lead us to a new dawn. once you experience the magic of apple you will truly understand the power of apple and why you can’t resist it. i will never use an evil pc again and welcome the dawning of a new era. i will see you soon brother and the infidels will be crushed. glory to steve and the wonders of his ipad. truly it is a blessing upon us all…


    these haters are annoying as hell…look don’t want one don’t buy it

    don’t believe in Apple stop coming to these forums

    get lost

    1. some of these comments like “amen” and “believe in Apple” are a tad bit disturbing…

  10. Crotch Rocket Saturday, July 31, 2010

    From what I see on a daily basis there can be no doubt that Apple is shaping the minds of today’s youth. Most youngster I come in contact with absolutely love their iPods, want an iPhone4 and dream about having an iPad at school.

    BTW many medical schools around the country are rapidly adopting the iPad as the uber learning tool for their students. Apple is clearly going where no tablet has ever gone before and proving the experts wrong about slate computing every day.

    You go Steve keep showing everybody just how wrong they are.
    We love you Steven Paul Jobs !

    All you haters know where you can go and what you can do, it doesn’t even need to be said.

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