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  • Ken Kleiner

Apple: what was old is new again!


Apple events have always had a bit of a carnival atmosphere: music, grand statements and often has something you want to take home with you. The June 5th, 2017 WWDC was no exception. Updates across the board including new operating systems for their iOS products, smartwatch and desktop computers (one of which has a mind blowing, geek meter-worthy 18 cores). Part of the presentation had Tim Cook announcing one of the latest products:

"The iPad has completely changed the way we work, play, teach, learn and create. It is truly a magical piece of glass that transforms into anything you want"

Yes, Apple loves to (over?) state how amazing their products are, and given how many of us own one of their products, quite a few of us agree. I know that in my own world, I can't imagine an average day without some time spent on an iPad for work or leisure. I even used what many consider to be a precursor to the iPad, the Apple Newton. It was a revolutionary product that never really found a big enough audience.

Apple Newton

By today's standards, this bulky, monochrome screen and dated design is almost comical. I used this product for so long, I needed duct-tape to hold it together. The reason I hated to give up the product for the early generation, colour iPads and other cooler devices was how simply this tool solved a need of mine. I've done consulting for all of my adult life and want to take notes in a barrier-free way. Have you ever had someone pop open an nice, 17" laptop to capture meeting notes, only to have them disappear behind that glorious big screen? I wonder if they are actually listening to me or checking on their Facebook. Is that an email they just responded to?

I've tried to like my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It is a great portable laptop, as long as you don't actually work on your lap, it has a bright screen and it does have a pen that writes on the screen. I admit that my dinosaur of a Newton did a better job for me. Apple quietly announced the Pencil for their Pro line back in 2015, but for most of us, it was more show than go.

The new iPad, and iOS 11 have returned to an old trick, that of integrating handwriting into their 'slate'. Instant Markup allows you to write suggestions to a PDF file. Instant Notes lets you create handwritten notes that are searchable and accessible even from the lock screen. Inline Drawings allows you to show off your artistic side (or lack of) in notes or in emails. And finally, scan and sign...anyone else have a bulky scanner at home in case you need to get a signature back to someone in a hurry?

There is no single feature that is going to be important to everyone. The bright new screen, an even faster processor, a BIG (12.9"), new medium (10.5"), small (the old 9.7") and tiny (7.9") screen size fits most any situation. And now, when you are tired of streaming your Netflix, or playing that latest game, you can jot down notes at a meeting, or scan/sign those contracts that need to get out so you can back to those more entertaining tasks. For me, it might be that one old but new feature that has me standing in line like the rest of the Apple fans waiting for their latest gadget.

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