Technologies change in the wake of an Apple event, again


Innovation is best measured by the disruption it causes, and Apple sure has been disruptive this week. Apple first changed how we acquire and think about media like movies and music, and now it’s changing how we acquire and distribute games and applications as well. It makes sense, then, that Apple would cut out traditional distribution outlets when it rolls out the next version of its OS X. But that’s just one example of the disruption Apple caused yesterday. Here are a few more prime examples.

The mouse. Apple may have brought the mouse to the masses, but with one multi-gesture swipe, it could flick it away forever. So many of the new features being introduced with OS X Lion will require complex gestures that replacing the mouse with a touchpad will be nearly essential.

The file system. Thanks to drag-and-drop sharing with AirDrop, and Documents in the Cloud available to all developers, Apple has threatened not only the flash drive, but also file systems themselves. Users won’t need to know where files go, because it will all happen automatically behind the scenes.

Paper and traditional newsstands. While I may not be ready to ditch my RSS readers just yet, I will be opening articles in mobile Safari far more often than I do now. With the ability to tweet, read and save multi-page articles in Safari, I may depend far less on RSS. I’ll also probably stop using Instapaper, and with the addition of Newsstand, I’ll transition from print to digital subscriptions much more quickly.

Desktop app launchers. Bringing the iOS-style app organization to OS X with Launchpad is a welcome addition. It could eliminate the need to use other launchers like Quicksilver, Alfred and Butler, especially when combined with Mission Control, the more versatile Exposé replacement.

To-do apps. In the same vein of getting things done more efficiently, the new Reminders app for iOS devices could make third-party to-do apps redundant. It all depends on how advanced your needs are, but Apple’s system has location and time-based notifications, so you can’t ask for much more.

BlackBerry Messenger and SMS. With Apple’s new iMessage service for any owner of an Apple device, the one remaining killer feature of BlackBerry devices  may be rendered inert. The remaining question is whether or not families will keep their SMS service with their carriers. Creating a way to direct message family and friends with other Apple devices, as well as deeply integrating Twitter into the iOS itself may eliminate that need, depending on what hardware your circle of friends and family is using.

Weather apps. I’m not a fan of the stock weather app that comes with iOS, but that’s about to change. With the integration of weather updates on the new notifications, and the added bonus of hourly forecasts, a lot of what I was looking for in third-party apps is taken care of.

Once again, Steve Jobs delivers the goods and has the tech world scrambling to keep up. But this time around, consumers might be the ones doing a little scrambling, too. Apple is aggressively moving to the cloud, which might throw some users unused to the concept for a loop, and the fact that Lion can only be downloaded might leave some of those without fast or dependable Internet connections behind. But Apple seems to have set its sights firmly on where tech is headed, and it’s willing to roll over existing offerings and services in order to get there.


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