Apple has recently announced that a new OS is already on the horizon for the Mac, OS X Mountain Lion. If you watch the overview video on the website, it does a nice job of presenting the basic features of the OS and how it draws a lot of features from the iOS devices. I’ve seen a couple of early articles that make a big deal out of the fact that that new name is just OS X, not Mac OS X. I honestly don’t care about the name, I think this is more about Apple recognizing that OS X Lion was not quite ready for prime time and instead of updating it, they’re replacing it with a new OS.
But after watching the video overview, I am very intrigued by how easily it shares information with the iOS devices.
Right now it is pretty easy to share information from your iPad / iPhone apps in the form of emails and PDFs for the most part. As in, you create a document or a drawing or information on your iDevice and then send it to someone on a Mac as a PDF, JPEG or email to share. But for many iOS apps, you can’t share the original document to be edited with the same or similar app on the Mac laptop / desktop. There’s usually a workaround that you “bring the file into this other app on your computer, make the changes, then you can send it back to the iPad where our app will read it.”
But if Mountain Lion is going to be bringing iOS elements to the desktop / laptop realm, this can open up exciting possibilities for the creative professional. Will it soon be possible for…
A) Much tighter integration between iOS Apps and Mac Desktop / Laptop apps?
B) iOS Apps to be able to run on a Mac Desktop or Laptop?
Let’s start with A)
If you watch the video on Apple’s site, the answer to the first question is a resounding “Yes.” Sure these are some simple tasks and everything shown revolves around Apple apps or games. But it does make me wonder about professional apps.
We know that Adobe and Avid already have iOS apps. And there are some professional apps on the desktop / laptop that allow you to control them via an iDevice. But what if you could interact with another creative artist from anywhere via your iOS device or vice versa?
I’m working with an After Effects artist and I need to see their comp to work out a timing issue, I pull up the Adobe Interface app on my iPad, log in to their computer and their comp opens up. I simply click on an area of the interface and that goes full screen on my iPad so I can inspect and work with that area. The changes are happening in realtime on the artist’s computer.
I meet my client for lunch to review a project and I leave my Avid timeline up on my primary computer back at my office. At the restaurant I pull up the Avid timeline on my iPad and we have a full project review while eating, even creating a new timeline and revisions before dessert. When I get back to the shop, all of my changes are there waiting for me. Reversely as I’m on the way to meet the client I realize I forgot to change out the credit roll, I call the shop and ask one of my editors to make the change for me. As our lunch starts, the project I open on my iPad has been revised with the new credit roll.
How about an application that makes proxy files in the field of your entire shoot allowing you to do a complete rough cut on your iDevice which then opens up in the application of your choice back at the shop. Sure the iPad or iPhone might be a little small to work with, but add the Airplay option and you can work on a larger screen.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Give the pro developers enough time and we could eventually move towards seamless integration between the “computers” and “iDevices” allowing near realtime collaboration for artists no matter what software / task they are trying to accomplish.
Now to B)
Thanks to the incredible Prolost Blog, I found the great storyboarding app for the iPad, Penultimate. And while you’re there reading that article, be sure to check out the rest of his blog for lots of incredible tips, I’m very jealous and will have to start writing more, but I digress…
This is an awesome storyboard app that really plays to the strength of what the iPad is all about. Instead of sketching on paper or having to use a full blown graphics app like Photoshop, I can very easily and quickly do thumbnail sketches of what we’re going to shoot. We can erase and make changes on the fly right there on set.
Now I can share those sketches via PDF files to anyone, but it would be so awesome if Penultimate was also available on my Mac. I’m the field with my crew and there’s a question on the upcoming shot. The DP doesn’t remember the scene being described that way, he thought the camera was going to move completely differently with a wider angle. So I send the storyboard sketches to the Executive Producer who opens them up on their laptop, changes the sketches and then pushes them back up via iCloud. This takes a matter of minutes and we’re done because we’re using the original files and not PDF shares that we have to talk about, I make the changes on my end, send the changes for review, etc….. If we can both use the exact same app, things just move faster.
There are a lot of very useful apps on the iDevices that would be even more useful with allowing instant collaboration between them and “computers.” Yes there are many apps that can interchange with computer based software, but wouldn’t it just be easier if you can just work in that exact same app across the board? Scripting, logging, TimeCode readers, etc…. Movie*Slate comes to mind. It does make very nice PDF and HTML files to share across multiple users, but if I could open that same app on a computer, I could go back in and very easily enhance the quick logs on another computer and output them once instead of bringing the logs into Pages, reformatting them and then typing.
So while others might be concerned, for whatever reason, that “Mac” was dropped from the OS X name, I’m very intrigued to see how this new merging of the portable and desktop based OS will make our future workflows more efficient and even more portable than they are today.
Of course there’s always the flip side where one has to wonder how the merging of iOS and OS X will affect the professional applications we all know and love today…..