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iPhone Apps: Article

Is the Tablet a Birth of a New Seatback?

The New Darling of the Skies

Is there anything worse than being shut in a metal tube at 38,000 ft with no communication to the outside world for many hours?

This has been the case for years, but for the International Business Traveler it could be classed as a 'perk' of the job and a necessity for the holidaymaker. For the Business Traveler, it can be a number of precious hours to catch up on... practicing or creating presentations, report writing or offline emails (or online - see below). For the holidaymaker, boring hours trying to keep sane and waiting for the flight to be over! For me in either situation the Tablet, such as the iPad, is the idea device with exactly the functionality and form factor I need, in such a limited space...

But are we seeing the birth of a New Seatback?

On my last international trip to SAPPHIRE in Orlando, during the flight I noted the large amount of iOS devices, the majority iPads,  being used on the 8hr 40min from the UK. These devices were being used in lieu of the inflight entertainment systems, even on my flight with Virgin Atlantic, which boasts a modern fleet and some of the most innovative in-flight systems.  It seems to me that the new darling of the skies is a tablet device that far outperforms the games, films and music systems that are offered on today's airlines (I have heard of some airlines already renting tablet devices to passengers).

Obviously the user has to have currently planned ahead somewhat, deciding what to entertain themselves with, but looking ahead I wonder how long it will be until we have a feature onboard to stream from an inflight server, at a price of course! In addition will we also have on device Companion Apps that will show more detailed flight stats & location on a map, give us the ability to order tax free goods and drinks etc. This could all be made available with the growing presence of inflight wifi access which is slowly becoming a norm.

Whilst we are on the subject, I wonder what you guys think of the idea of allowing the use of Mobiles in flight for Calls? Personally I could not think of anything worse, as I already said, you are confined to a metal tube, with nowhere to go... unlike quiet areas on other forms of public transport!!

Is it now time for the Airlines to create such Mobile Companion Apps for Onboard Services against inflight wifi etc, rather than spending too much time with dated onboard systems? I doubt that trying to play catch up against devices that are able to be updated yearly by their consumer owners and daily with apps will succeed! Are we as passengers feeling disappointed with the current level of some inflight systems? Maybe if we are, then is it because we are all experienced Mobile Users and are able to judge them against the level of technology and user eXperience that we get on our excellent mobile devices and consumer apps?

Back to the passengers using their iPads on my flight, I did notice some passengers that were trying to hold them in new weird and wonderful ways... exercise against DVT or a contortionist accident waiting to happen? So along the same lines I noticed recently on KickStarter the Artic Flight which would help those folks quite considerably. Good luck to them... Safe & Technology filled travels to you!!!

Please follow me on Twitter @ithain

More Stories By Ian Thain

As one of the Sybase Technical Evangelists, Ian regularly addresses technical audiences all over the world and his sessions are always very well attended. He also writes education classes, whitepapers, demos and articles for various Sybase products and publishes regularly in Journals such as SYS-CON's PBDJ and International Developer Magazine. He is also the Sybase Unwired Platform & PocketBuilder Evangelist and works closely with the team in Dublin, CA and Concord, MA on new features and demonstrations for the products. In his customer-facing Evangelist role, Ian is very involved with the design, production and testing of Enterprise class Unwired Solutions, that have been implemented using Sybase's Unwired tools for Sybase customers around the globe. In addition, Ian is a dedicated technical expert continually working with Sybase's key partners and clients to enhance the capabilities of the Unwired solutions that Sybase can offer to its customers. Ian can also be found on Twitter @ithain

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