Over the weekend a few others have expressed similar thoughts, but let’s face the fact that this stuff is likely bigger than most of us realized when Apple made its announcements.
Here’s Will Oremus on the matter:
The AirPods can’t store files or access the internet on their own, of course. They need your other Apple devices for that. But as processors continue to shrink, they’re likely to grow more independent with time, as the Apple Watch is beginning to do.
Everything is in your ear. I am extremely excited about the AirPods — not for what they represent today, but for the future I can see them bringing. I talked a bit about this with Shawn Blanc on the podcast we recorded, but this first generation AirPod offers a glimpse at what might be. As AirPods get smaller, and the batteries last longer, it presents very interesting opportunities.
Some of the things I have been thinking about:
- The iPhone could begin using all microphones on your person to better isolate your voice (iPhone, AirPods, Apple Watch) which will lead to audio which will rival high end microphones and sound deadened rooms.
- In a room full of people wearing AirPods, you could easily isolate the persons voice you are talking to, hear them in your ear in a seamless manner.
- Adaptive volume control, as your environment’s volume changes, so too does the volume of the audio routed to your ears.
- Sound could mute if someone speaks your name, sirens, or alarms are going off so that you never miss something important.
There’s a lot of possibilities surrounding this, and most are possible today in varying ways. Now, why am I bringing this up just now with the AirPods? Because they are the first devices I could see people wearing enough (read: all day) for any of this to matter. Version one may not be that widely used, but they will be widely accepted in no time. Where bluetooth headsets in your ear make you look like an ass, headphones just make you look like you want everyone to leave you alone — which who doesn’t want this?
Version 2 AirPods should be smaller and better, and that’s where this really becomes a thing. Give people a compelling product and you can open the door — AirPods 1.0 does that because they have zero wires. Give people a reason to use them, and you have a changed market — some of the ideas listed above would give me a real reason to always wear headphones. I can’t wait. The original iPhone was essentially the catalyst for everyone always having a smart phone with them, I think AirPods are going to do the same in the smart headphones category.
AI taking the perfect picture, you’re just the tripod and means of transport to locations. At least that’s where I see things heading, but I’ll admit to the fact that this has caused a heated debate with my wife. This isn’t an easy thing to accept, but I don’t see how it doesn’t become reality.
There’s some really basic photographic rules which separate most photographs:
- Rule of thirds (place interesting things at 1/3 points in the photo).
- If taking a picture of a person, the eyes should be tack sharp.
- Have the horizon line level.
- Vertical lines in architecture should be vertical.
Those are just a sampling, but the list goes on. None of those, even put together, is what makes for an amazing photo, but without using them it makes it harder to get a great photo. Also, all of those things are easily achieved by software.
We already have facial detection for autofocus, and really who’s to say the iPhone isn’t already trying to guess where the eyes are to get those sharp? If you tap edit and go to crop on an iPhone, the software will level the horizon line for you, like magic.
More and more, and with every new iteration of iPhone, many of the most basic photography tips are becoming built in to the single most popular camera in the world. What else could the iPhone automate?
- Why not hold the phone at your subject and let AI wait for the perfect moment to snap the photo. Hell, cameras already try to assemble perfect all smiles, no blinking, group images.
- The iPhone could take a wider angle picture, and crop it to make it more interesting for you, as in without you asking it to.
- Your iPhone could analyze the image and display a selection of the filters which provide for the most pleasing effect — you just pick one, but really there is no wrong pick.
Does this take away art from photography? No, hardly, but it does raise the level of skill one needs to be a photographic artist. The iPhone can’t set the stage, pose models, or move itself to the correct angle, but once there, it likely won’t matter who is taking the picture — or if the photographer actually even triggers the shutter — to get a solid photo. The bar for being a pro photographer is now no longer being able to take a solid photo, but being able to take a stunning photo.
Hell, the iPhone could tell you to take two steps to the left and kneel down — it’s not that far off — and really change things up. I mean, what if your camera told you how to make your picture better by analyzing your GPS coordinates, time of day, direction of the sun, etc?
None of this is new, as photography has constantly been experiencing this all its life. Autofocus made focusing no longer a skill needed to be a great photographer. Digital Auto White Balance took away the need for most photographers to understand color temperature.
Full auto cameras took away the need to know about aperture, shutter speed, and the like. Light field cameras take away the need to understand depth of field. Bazillion gigapixel cameras will take away the need to pick the right lens. Burst shooting takes away the need to wait for the right moment.
But none of that has destroyed the art, in fact it’s made the art more accessible. But what if the camera does everything except decide what it is pointed at, and what angle it is held at?
I’m not sure, but I certainly want to find out what happens then.
What Apple has pushed forward this year will have impacts for years to come. I can’t wait to use AirPods, just as I can’t wait to use the faux bokeh mode on the 7 plus. It all looks like a step towards the future.