No computer skills required … and now no computer either
Flickr photo credits: Toddler by umpcportal.com, Senior by Courosa, licensed under Creative Commons
Everyone says the Apple iPad is intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to use. It almost seems tailored to toddlers and seductive to seniors. Grandparents and great grandparents with no prior computer experience can reconnect with family and make new friends online with email, social media, and video conferencing. But as easy and seductive as iPad is, it still required a PC or Mac in order to download or upgrade its software. Not any more. Apple changed that last week with its iCloud announcement and its latest iOS 5 operating system.
With iOS 5, you no longer need a computer to own an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. That’s because the software and applications can be downloaded from the Internet using Wi-Fi or a fast cellular network. This one feature opens vast new markets for Apple, because many seniors don’t want the complexity of a PC and home network. It also makes the iPad a great Telemedicine gateway between medical and home sensors and remote monitoring services.
The rest of this article expands on what I wrote a few days ago. “Apple iCloud implications for home health care” has videos from Apple’s June 6 product launch, but more details have come in since then. I now see even more possibilities for home health care and for people with disabilities. You can browse the Apple website for the details or just skim the highlights below.
No PC/Mac Required – With Apple’s latest iOS 5 operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, you no longer need a computer. Software and apps can be downloaded using iCloud and a wireless network (Wi-Fi or 3G). This one feature makes the super easy-to-use 3G iPad2 a great Telemedicine gateway, connecting medical and home sensors to remote monitoring services. It opens new markets for Apple, because many seniors don’t have PCs or home networks and don’t want that complexity.
iTunes in the Cloud – Music purchased through iTunes appears automatically on all of your devices for free, unlike similar music services from Amazon & Google. Buy a new song on one device, and it’s downloaded automatically on all over either Wi-Fi or 3G. Your entire purchase history can be accessed by your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Apple doesn’t need to store separate copies of each song, because they can give users access to purchased songs from the 18 million songs stored in the iTunes store.
iTunes Match – Apple also has a solution for people with libraries of song ripped from CDs or purchased outside of iTunes. For $24.99 / year, iTunes Match will store that music too, and most of it is likely already in iCloud. When there’s a match, users have access to high-quality AAC digital encoding at 256 Kbps AAC, even if their original copy was of lower quality.
Newsstand – iOS 5 organizes your newspaper and magazine subscriptions in bookshelf format like iBooks. As new issues become available, they appear on the bookshelf showing the latest covers.
Reminders – Organize your life with shopping and to-do lists that sync with iCal, iCloud and Microsoft Outlook, and get location-based reminders by date on any of your devices. It can tell you to take your medication, pick up the laundry when you leave home, or stop by the grocery store when you leave work.
Notification Center – iOS 5 provides a convenient place to get all kinds of notifications: texts, mail, calls, voicemails, and other apps. New notifications appear briefly without interrupting what you’re doing.
iMessage – iOS 5 provides encrypted MMS-style messaging among individuals or groups with optional read receipts and ability to see when someone’s typing.
Twitter Integration – Sign in once in your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch settings, then then tweet directly from camera, photos, web pages, maps, or YouTube videos.
Camera – By pressing the Volume Up button, you can capture unexpected moments without first unlocking the camera and launching the Camera app. And if you have Photo Stream enabled, you new photos are automatically pushed to your other devices.
Photos – Now photo editing is built in. Remove red-eye, enhance, crop and rotate within the Photos app.
More Features – iOS 5 also has enhancements to Mail and Calendar, and several other new features like Game Center, Multitasking Gestures to switch between apps, Wi-Fi Sync to a PC or Mac, AirPlay Mirroring to stream whatever’s on your iPad screen to your HDTV.
Apple’s commitment to accessibility shows in the features included in its products and in iOS 5, including support for vision, hearing, physical & motor skills, and cognitive disabilities.
Safari Reader – Not only does Apple’s new web browser eliminate ads and let you save articles for reading later, it will even read the text aloud.
Split Keyboard – A new split keyboard lets you compose messages on the iPad with only your thumbs.
Zoom – The iPad screen can show content in landscape or portrait mode with large or small font and with the ability to zoom in and out to show images or other screen elements.
VoiceOver – iPad has a gesture-based screen reader that lets user enjoy the iPad even if they are blind or have problems seeing the screen. Because VoiceOver is integrated with the iBooks app, books can be read aloud in any of 21 languages. Navigation is also made simpler. As you drag your finger around the screen, you learn what’s underneath and nearby with a user-adjustable speaking rate. And to help with entering text, VoiceOver can echo each character and enter it when you lift your finger, and speak each completed word as you type. And for blind users, there are dozens of Braille displays that can attach to the iPad. Visit the link to learn more.
Other accessibility features not covered in this article include:
Closed-captioning on iTunes,
LED Flash on calls,
MMS Chat, and
Mac OS X Lion
Apple also enhanced its desktop operating system with new features, including many derived from the popular iPad. For details, visit the Apple website or watch their video here.