9to5Mac had an interesting post earlier today regarding a seemingly minor change in the upcoming OS X Lion release. As they explain,
Among other subtle changes, in Lion when you shut your MacBook’s screen while connected to an external monitor, the machine no longer goes to sleep but instead switches immediately to external monitor-only view while staying active.
To flesh it out a bit, when I have my 13″ MBA connected to an external monitor, mouse and keyboard and I close the lid the external monitor goes blank and the MBA goes into sleep mode. If I want to use the MBA as a “desktop” all I need to do is move the mouse or strike a key on the keyboard. A few seconds later the screen comes on as the laptop comes out of sleep mode. It doesn’t take very long but it is a bit of a hassle.
With Lion there won’t be any delay whatsoever. When I close the lid the MBA’s screen will immediately be transferred over to the larger display with even a moment’s hesitation.
It is a nice convenience and one that I will certainly appreciate. But is it more than that?
I got to thinking this afternoon about why Apple would make this small change. And then it struck me. In a world that is increasingly taken by storm by the iPad people’s and family’s patterns are changing. Just a year ago people would often have a desktop and a laptop. The desktop for home computing and the laptop for mobility. Two things have changed all that.
First, laptops got super fast and super powerful. My 13″ MBA is as fast or faster than any computer I have ever used. Connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor it is one awesome desktop.
Second, the iPad. In the past I would have brought my laptop with me for mobile computing. These days I bring my iPad with me pretty much everywhere. My laptop only goes mobile when I need real power.
The result is that there has been a significant change in my “computing setup”. Last year at this time it was using a 27″ iMac for home computing and a 13″ MacBook Pro on the go. Now I have my iPad for mobile computing and my “desktop” is a 13″ MBA connected to a 25″ HDTV. It is a great setup that is working perfectly for me. At home I have all the power I need. On the go the iPad serves me just fine. And when I need power on the go the MBA unplugs and goes mobile.
Which all brings me back to the point of this post and why I believe Apple is bringing this small but important change. In an iPad world Apple knows that people will increasingly choose to have one computer and an iPad and, more often than not, that computer will be a laptop. Letting the laptop become a desktop fluidly is one more step in that direction.