What the iPad Means to Unified Communications

What the iPad Means to Unified Communications

I’ll be the first to admit that making any sort of broad statement about Unified Communications based on some new whizbang gadget is a stretch. The iPad isn’t a game changer. It’s got that amazing Apple touchscreen and some really cool UI enhancements (have you seen the page turning graphics?), but it’s essentially a more human version of a laptop. Or a more computerized version of an eReader, depending on your perspective. And like the first iteration of anything, it’s got a lot of holes to fill.

Apple iPadBut what is does say to Unified Communications is that devices are 1) continuing to converge, and 2) becoming more humane. As working minds, we weren’t really tethered to office desks until the typewriter became a mainstay. Then they transformed into PCs, and now we have dockable laptops and/or separate netbooks. None of these options really fit the fluidity of a body in motion, shifting from one context/environment to another.  Smartphones come close because they’ve evolved into mini-PCs that are ultraportable, but you still can’t get much work done on them. Even browsing a webpage can be quite a challenge on small devices.

The first time I held a friend’s iPhone, my immediate reaction was, “Wow, this would be perfect if it were just a little bigger.” Meaning, I wouldn’t need a laptop and a cellphone any longer. I wouldn’t need a physical keyboard or a separate monitor. I wouldn’t need a separate zipper compartment in my backpack to carry it around. Instead, it would fit into my lifestyle without me needing to adapt to it. Just a single, slim device that could do everything: phone, apps, movies, internet, e-mail, games, music, and photos.

Okay, the iPad can’t do all of that…yet. Give it a year or so. Watch its competitors launch similar devices. Watch us all start to shed the extra weight of technology and move from situation to situation without checking battery life, undocking, wrapping up cables, or even thinking about a wi-fi connection. You’ll be checking your morning news and e-mail over coffee, driving to work with a Bluetooth headset, stepping into an early meeting, flipping through some family photos at lunch, giving an afternoon presentation, filing a report, stepping onto an airplane and watching a movie–all without switching devices or giving a second thought to the technology required.

So what does the iPad mean to Unified Communications? It means things are still getting simpler and more portable. Devices and applications must evolve to do both effortlessly.

Chris Sullivan is the Director of Training and Documentation for AVST and also on the CallXpress Customer Advisory Council.

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