Musings on baseball and technology

Today the iPad 2 goes on sale. It’s thinner, lighter and faster than the first iPad and has cameras. Along with iPad 2 comes an operating system update for almost all the iThings. Once iOS 4.3 is installed, even the old iPad gets a nice speed bump (18% increase), the iPhone 4 can be used as a wifi hot spot, and all iThings have improved media access and sharing from iTunes. I’m already seeing a bunch up updates from my current apps as they are modified to take advantage of these new capabilities.

Sometime this summer, Apple will be releasing OSX Lion – their new desktop operating system. It will incorporate features originally developed for the iThings (we’re already seeing the app store for the Mac) along with even easier over-the-air sharing of files and resources like printers. Included in every copy of Lion is server functionality. Many are speculating that this will allow the Mac desktop to serve as a home server for music, video, photos and files being accessed by the various devices. To add to this speculation, a huge new data center is coming online in North Carolina. Will this provide “cloud” storage and software to Apple users?

This is an amazing time for digital technology. Not only are we able to do so much more with our digital devices, but they are becoming much easier to use. Every time I’ve given my iPad to someone new, they instinctively know how to tap and swipe to make things happen. Yesterday, on our way to a baseball game in Orlando (Braves won!), one of the guys used his iPhone to check out the traffic and to pick up the radio talk show we’d been listening to once we got out of broadcast range. My digitally-challenged husband can watch his choice of baseball games – with his choice of announcers – either on our television or on his iPad thanks to MLB.TV and a Roku box. [Note: Apple recently announced that MLB.TV is available on the newest AppleTV.]

I spent yesterday afternoon at Disney enjoying a spring training baseball game. I am always amazed at the effort that goes into building and maintaining a beautiful and functional facility such as their sports center – and all their attractions for that matter. From crowd and traffic control to architecture and landscaping and on down to the simplest thing, they have designed it all to work together. Staff are trained to handle just about every situation and keep smiling through it all. No wonder it’s the top destination for millions of people each year.

Apple has done much the same thing in designing their products. That effort makes the user experience a delight. By controlling the hardware and the operating system, they make it easier for developers to build impressive applications. As a result, users enjoy an “it just works” experience. Yes, this experience comes with a price tag, but I’ve reached the stage in my life where I want to do the things I enjoy doing without spending a lot of time fussing with equipment.

Next month, Apple has schedule another event to introduce iOS 5. I hope this will also show us more of Apple’s vision for all things digital. I’ll be watching!

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