The post-iPad digital home

I’ve been thinking about the potential impact the iPad will make on my home and there’s a natural progression for a certain hobby of Apple’s which of course is AppleTV.

If the iPad succeeds at becoming the predominant home use system as I believe it easily can, it could really be an “instead of” not an “in addition to” sort of thing.  Let me explain …

Apple is positioning the iPad as a third device category which it definitely is as they’ve laid out the initial plan.  Once it arrives though, the amount of time my MacBookPro is going to get at home will be quite limited.  Currently the MacBookPro sits on my desk fully wired and connected to an array of devices.  I’ve got 3 hard drives, a slew of USB widgets and a second monitor.  Our home media collection streams via an AppleTV connected through our whole house AV system and enables music to stream anywhere and video you reach any tv.  The AppleTV is the set top box and my MacBookPro is essentially serving as an overpriced NAS.    When it’s time to do some photo or video processing I do need the Mac, but that’s something I do occasionally rather than daily.

The AppleTV or some revised iteration (Mac Mini home server edition?) combining network connected storage and speed could easily replace the Mac and sit on a rack in a closet hosting our personal cloud.  While the AppleTV works well, it’s been restricted based on lack of attention.  The iPad’s sync capability needs to be adjusted slightly to accommodate wireless sync, but as that’s already something AppleTV handles easily it should not be too challenging a change.

How might this all this all start to work together?

  • When I walk into the home and connect to the network, the iPad would know to sync with my home automatically.  Any media captured, files created or changed would automatically push up to the system waiting at home and the network would also push new content found (podcasts downloaded, pre-ordered new content etc) back to me keeping both sides current.
  • Other iPads would also be notified and could suggest we exchange mutual files based on tags of each other (faces from iPhoto, shared playlists, calendar updates, “digital fridge notes” etc)
  • While in the home, we’d be able to move media fluidly between screens.  Watching a video on the TV, but want to continue it in the home office or bed?  No problem, the iPad easily receives the stream and lets you continue where you left off.  Music could be handled in the same way … someone wants to watch a video in the family room when you are listening to music, simply switch the stream over to the iPad.
  • Apple’s Remote app for iPhone is a nice but limited suggestion on how home media control might work given the smaller screen of the iPhone.  With the iPad, you really can have a substantial view and control of what’s playing across various rooms in the home.

This is of course my “limited” future vision for how these things might come together, but I think speaks to the reality we could be living in as soon as later this year.

9 thoughts on “The post-iPad digital home”

  1. While not including the streaming aspect, I've almost got the same setup in my house, via Windows 7 instead.

    I have an old eMachines tower hooked straight up to the TV and router with a couple of HDDs to store all my movies and music. The appropriate folders are added to my Homegroup, ensuring they not only show up in WMP, but also the raw files are easily accessible from any other laptop in the house (we're all Win7). It's awesome to be able to watch a movie on the TV or on any laptop with the click of a button.

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