Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's the Media

So I finally broke down a week and a half ago and benched my broken Blackberry (charger port loose again, only this time they wanted to charge me $100 on top of the monthly insurance I've been paying), and bought my first iPhone, an iPhone 4. As advertised, it changes everything, really a whole different way to think about the hand-held device.

On a Blackberry, email is king. Email and calls. On the iPhone 4, they're just another form of media. Still pretty easy to use, if with a less tactile keyboard and missing some arrow keys for highlighting and moving through text, but not the worst trade-off in the world. But the most notably thing is that the iPhone, often called a hand-held computer, is actually the greatest hand-held media machine I've ever seen.

The iPad, in it's current incarnation, is nothing but a media consumption device. At least the iPhone manages contacts and makes calls. But what's striking is how everything on it is media. You can do Facetime videochat over Wi-Fi, take a picture of it, go into your Camera Roll and send it, post it, whatever. Take it into another app and edit it. You can take a picture anywhere and tweak it into Instagram, which you can immediately share on Facebook and Twitter etc etc with just a few checkboxes.

Email is treated not as "email" but each one as just another piece of media, with other media sent inside of it that can be played, click-linked to, taken out and resent elsewhere.

If it's been said that we're all just data, then data is the molecules and media are the differentiated cells. They all function in the same system, the same body, but they have different purposes, generally built around the speed of apprehension. Video is perhaps the highest form of media, an instantly playable YouTube video as a result of a Shazam music search, or the deepest point in a museum app exhibition module. Now you can shoot your own video and edit it in the iMovie app, then download to your Mac for the full iMovie menu of commands, finish and send back to your phone, other phones, etc.

Now the camera does more than just shoot video. It's a search tool as well -- for the first time in planetary history. The Google app contains a camera icon for "Google Goggles," where you take a picture of a label or object or book cover or whatever piece of commercial or trademarkable product or iconography and Google does an image match that results, after just a few seconds, with links to learning more and, of course, buying.

It's got camera's front and back (front for video chat, back for higher resolution) and HDR for still photography, providing two options with each snap, different lighting values. Unlike with my Blackberry, I can actually blog from it.

I'm sure Blackberry is catching up with an improved browser experience (I hope for their sake) and larger screen, and I'll be Android sweeps the world next year with Microsoft possibly elbowing to #3. But the iPhone leads the way by making it all easy-peasy media accessing and sending off.

Into the social media ether.

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