I'm A Mac...And I'm An iPhone: And We're Getting Married


Apparently one of the foundations of a post-PC world is one in which the line between desktop and device blurs considerably. Apple announced yesterday the upcoming release of OS X Lion for the Mac, and it has more than a few direct tie-ins to iOS. Apple is slowly but surely merging the two operating systems into something more seamless.

Dubbed “Mountain Lion” as a follow-up to the current “Lion” version of the OS, this one grabs some items right off the iPhone and iPad. Desktop users now will have access to the GameCenter, for instance, and can challenge people to games across platforms. The longstanding iChat chatting system is being replaced by the recently introduced Messages platform that runs across different iOS devices. The iMessage tool is a direct line not only to other Mac users, but also to devices. Just as iMessage on iOS circumvents SMS, this is a way to send messages directly to devices.

Any of you who have multiple devices on iOS already know how weird it is to hear two or more iPhones and iPads ding at once when a message comes in from another iOS user. Add another ding to the concert if you own a Mac.

Also integrated into the next Mac OS, of course, is iCloud. The virtual storage service will more easily sync mail, contacts and calendars across all devices, and allows you to access all documents from the cloud. The synchronization motif now extends to the addition of Notes, Notification Center and Reminders on the Mac desktop. This means that any notes to yourself, alarms and alerts are also in iCloud, and are shared across the iUniverse.

The new Mac OS also gives another boost to AirPlay. Now you get the same kind of mirroring of iOS to TV from the desktop. Presentations or just shared Web experiences can be projected onto the first screen. Video playback also can be sent to the Apple TV device, and I presume, game playing.

In my experience, trying to mirror high-bandwidth content over AirPlay has been problematic. It seems to tax the network, at least for me. But one can see hidden within this feature some sly strategies for creating sophisticated two-screen experiences. Mirroring on the iOS does not just literally mirror one screen onto the other. It can also be used in some apps to put different images on each screen (like a racetrack map on the device and an in-car view on the TV).

Of course, this also means that a Mac and an Apple TV together may easily take Web-based streaming media content like Hulu and move it directly to the TV. Generally, mobile and Web video services -- even from major media -- have been reserved in porting these streams to set-top boxes like Apple TV, Roku or Google TV. Conceivably, whatever media a user can get to run on their PC can be sent to their TV. This could give major media some pause. 

From a business perspective, this development is more of the same. Apple tries to make it more enticing for owners of one device in its portfolio to buy into a second, a third and a fourth. But this move also is a significant stride toward what a post-PC world looks like. The phone, tablet and PC all become mirrors of one another. Like an auto-pen, whatever you make on one device simply shows up on another. The device is less relevant. Content is itself removed from any specific setting. It can be experienced, stopped and started, and shared from anywhere.  

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