Apple has published a series of editorially selected Best Of 2013 lists. These seem to reflect the emerging divergence in the way in which people use iPads and iPhones: iPad owners seem interested in productivity and visual/video apps while iPhone users tend to casual gaming and social networking.
The usage cases are evolving
I expect these lists to be endlessly regurgitated without significant context and comment by numerous sites. For a better reading experience I'd recommend checking the relevant pages on Apple's Web site. Here I want to explore the slightly different ways in which people use the devices.
Reading the lists it seems clear iPhone users are into games, social media, Google services and photography. The pattern is similar in both the US and UK charts, with the addition of video social networking service, Vine in the US.
The iPad app preferences (and it's worth bearing in mind that these are editorially chosen preferences, presumably selected because they reflect actual usage trends) seem slightly different. Games once again dominate the lists, but these are boosted by video streaming service such as iPlayer, Netflix or Photon Flash Player, radio streaming apps, and information/reference solutions.
These lists seem to reflect the different usages made between iPads and iPhones. The latter being an immediate solution, the other a path to more engaging experiences.
[ABOVE: Apple's latest ad hits the sentimental sweet spot.]
Fast and immediate
I won't go into too much detail concerning specific apps, I simply want to observe that where the iPhone has an identity as a fast and immediate tool (casual games, social, photography) the iPad is becoming a must have alternative to media/television, an educational tool and sometimes productivity solution.
This isn't rocket science -- it's deeply logical if you stop to consider it. The iPhone is always in your pocket so it is ideal for fast and immediate use, quick reference, casual gaming, social networking, photography. The iPad exists for more extensive sessions of sophisticated use -- you might watch a show, read a paper, make some music or engage in extensive research (as well as games).
It seems inevitable both product families will continue to develop their own identities, even though so many of their capabilities actually overlap.
I can imagine far more sophisticated image editing solutions continuing to appear for the iPad, used in conjunction with your iPhone (as camera) and iCloud, the combination could potentially set the scene for creative souls to create evolutions in photography to echo the achievements of Eadweard Muybridge.
Apple certainly shows interest in the use of the iPhone as a camera as it continues in its attempt to ensure the iPhone is the best pocket camera you can carry with you. This extends to recently introduced photography features within iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S (burst mode, flash improvements, speed). Apple's approach isn't just to bang technology inside regardless of how well everything works together -- instead its aim is that when you do take a picture you have a good chance of capturing an image you will want to keep.
As these separate usage cases form it also seems inevitable we should expect some fantastic advances within third party apps next year as developers exploit the potential of Apple's 64-bit platforms. You see, when it comes to apps, things may be good -- but they are going to get even better.
Happy Christmas Post-PC.
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