The 2011 Macworld Expo brought thousands of Apple enthusiasts to the West Hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center last week, featuring an army of accessory manufacturers and software developers supporting Apple desktops, laptops, iPods, iPhones and iPads. CraveOnline was there to report on the trends and hottest products coming to the Apple universe.
For more than a decade, Macworld has been a circled date on the computer world calendar. But the most obvious element of the current version is the absence of Apple. While Mac Pooba Steve Jobs and Apple made a habit of attending the show and introducing a major new product for consumer visitors, the computer manufacturer hasn’t attended the show since 2009.
When you consider that Apple also ignores the massive Consumer Electronics Show every year, missing Macworld isn’t so unexpected. Apple PR let it be known years ago that it doesn’t consider trade shows a big element in its appeal. The company focuses on attracting attention on the consumer level. That didn’t stop Apple from stealing a couple headlines during CES, including the announcement of the Verizon iPhone.
But, while it’s understandable for Apple to go AWOL, it isn’t preferable. The expo loses something without the giving tree of the parent company rooting it to the Fog City’s Mission Street. As a result of the absence, the conference feels much smaller and less vibrant.
Fortunately, nature abhors a vacuum, and smart entrepreneurs know when to jump into a void and call it an opportunity. Where Apple fails to develop products or enhancements to their line, creative designers and business people jump in to find new purposes for the existing products – and to stretch their limits.
While big ticket software used to dominate Macworld, the emergence of the iPhone market sprung less expensive Apps into a featured role. An entire section of the convention hall was devoted to a series of tiny booths featuring a selection of productivity, utility and gaming software. It was essentially a way for the apps you find at the iTunes App Store to demo to an audience.
BusyMac’s BusyToDo was a Best in Show winner that links your task lists between all Apple devices. Using cloud computing, BusyToDo syncs up your calendars from your desktop to your Laptop, from iPad to iTunes.
A major software trend for laptops and desktops included several lines of music producing and audio mixing software, pushing beyond Garageband or Pro Tools.
While Apple hunkered down just miles away in Cupertino, the expo was left to companies dedicated to products that support, supplement and improve Apple products. Without question, the dominant Apple creation drawing most of the market attention from those companies was the iPad. With the tablet computer less than a year old, this was the first opportunity for the secondary market to march out support products at a big Mac trade show.
If tours up and down the aisles of booths and displays revealed anything, it’s that iPad owners must walk around in constant, abject terror of dropping or otherwise smashing their beloved devices. Cases abounded, from decorative to leather, armored to elaborate.
The hottest trend in iPad cases was the inclusion of a rotating handle clamped on to the rear of the device. One designer, Handstand for iPad, build its rotating handle in the back of a plastic case that offers impact protection in case of an impact.
A special mention goes to Hand-e-holder, who took the idea of an iPad handle off your hand and strapped it to your lower extremities. While the idea of latching an iPad to your upper thigh might seem like the act of someone taking love of Apple products a bit too far, consider the the Leg Strap Kit. It connects to the back of your iPad and secures it to your leg. So, if you’re sitting cross legged or folded up on the floor, your iPad stays stationary – freeing up both hands for typing.
If you’re looking to use your iPad at the pool or by the beach (and you’re afraid of typhoons or the greater danger of splashing six year olds), the DryCASE protector provides a vacuum seal for your iPad or iPhone. Once the device is sealed in a plastic sleeve, a simple hand pump sucks the air free and seals the high tech toy in a waterproof cocoon.
The only drawback to the DryCASE is that sound doesn’t travel well in a vacuum, so the built-in audio functions of the protected device fade significantly. Fortunately, the DryCASE comes with a built-in headphone jack extender.
Finally, while it’s not technically a case, the TenOne Designs Fling latches onto your iPad’s face and becomes traditional game controls – taking the place of the touchpad areas that can make gaming on the tablet less entertainment.
Life and Death for iPhone
A few manufacturers are finding ways to put iPhones to vital uses beyond mere communication. By connecting another device to the phone and introducing third party software, they’re turning iPhones into essential life tools.
The iRadar from Cobra turns the smart phone into a radar/laser detector. By connecting the phone via bluetooth to the Cobra add-on, the phone warns of radar speed and red light cameras, while also listing popular speed trap zones.
The myTrek Pulse Monitor from Scosche links up with a free app to provide complete heart monitoring while exercising. The monitor straps around your arm and while two LEDs and an optical sensor measure “variances in blood density.” Bluetooth sends the collected data to your iPhone.
The app provides the realtime monitoring and biofeedback technology to help control and enhance your exercising. The app captures the data and allows for tracking and comparison from one run or lifting session to another.