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Apple’s free upgrades are Inviting you into the Metaverse: iOS15 – macOS Monterey & iPadOS15

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Above:Photo Credit – Apple / Lynxotic

Sci-fi sounding, inevitable upgrade for today’s online communications

You might have heard lately about the “metaverse” and yet that can mean a variety of different things to different people. Often, it’s a term that relates back to gaming and 3D augmented reality enhancements of networked communications.

There are even crypto and blockchain related projects using this term and concept. While all of these various factors are welcome, and potentially part of this next phase of convergence of communication via networked technology, there’s something else happening under the surface.

”The pandemic, with its requirements of physical distancing, has brought people into online digital environments for a growing range of shared human experiences.” — Wired UK from “The Metaverse is coming” by David Baszucki

The acceleration in AI application, machine learning, and converging use cases for all communications tech has created a situation where the entry-portal to the emerging metaverse is already here.

One often overlooked aspect of a transition to a more complete digital life is the need for humans to have adapted to the need and potential benefits of the idea. This is what is happening via many routes, including Apple and the constant synergistic upgrade cycles that have just gone into a new, bigger phase with the migration to a unified OS structure built around Apple Silicon.

The gradual increases in iOS functionality and user sophistication are changing how we interact

iOS15, previewed this week at the WWDC2021 is rolling out literally dozens of new features, many based on machine learning, neural networks and AI that propose a new level of highly sophisticated options to communicate with video, photos and text.

While this mixture of “basic” media has been the staple of our current modes of online communication, particularly via social media, the incredibly increased depth of new options and functionality of iOS15 and iPadOS15 and MacOS Monterey will make all modes of communication feel completely new.

In the evolution of online media and enriched communication (OMEC to coin an 80s sounding acronym) the slow and uneven progress is based on many factors. #1 is always user adoption and sophistication.

Second is the quality of the hardware devices and software upgrades each user around the world has access to. In the case of iOS (iPad, iPhone & macOS) the immediate adoption of upgrades is a large factor on the plus side, helping new innovation to arrive in general use more quickly.

The last factor, a huge one, is access to fast ubiquitous internet data connections, and, in the US at least, this is less consistent than ever (or our expectations are rising faster than the build out).

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However, particularly in Asia, 5g is beginning to make a dent. Satellite broadband, like Starlink, should also start to be a factor as early as 2022. Government infrastructure build-out funding and subsidies in the US is on the way in 2021.

Augmented 3D features are still growing but will merge with 2D

The upshot of this topic is that “2D” factors and increasingly sophisticated manipulation and interactive features that are already coming in iOS15 will bring us all closer the entry-portal stone-age version of the metaverse.

We all depend more and more on communications and using our devices – work from home, personal, business and hybrid activities (such as the emerging content creator class). Often, as a result, we have fewer options to go offline for “organic” RL (real life) interactions.

The increasingly sophisticated capabilities available are beginning to make even face to face communications, particularly in work situations, feel “un-enhanced” as we become accustomed to and dependent on the digital enhancements and potential of a full media rich interaction.

This is an example, one could say, of the subtle encroachment of the emerging metaverse onto the “real world” and how the boundaries are blurring and even beginning to disappear.

Rather than a sudden “jump” into a metaverse, similar to the cliché sci-fi plots from films like “Ready Player 1”, what is happening is a nearly imperceptible transition to metaverse-like experiences that will become commonplace, initially in a primitive form, and then eventually become the norm. Similar to the proverbial Frog in pot, with warm water temperatures that increase so slowly that the Frog doesn’t even notice, until it finds that it is swimming in pot that is already boiling.

The misconception that a “killer app” or sudden shift into an online, virtual reality world, is the future, and that a big leap will happen nearly all at once, is harmlessly superimposed on the real transition that has already begun.

When Apple’s 2007 launch of the iPhone changed communication forever: the journey began

The new “Digital Legacy Program”, also announced at WWDC2021, is another hint that we are already living in an extremely primitive version of the metaverse. Our online identity, data, and even behaviors and experiences are so essential and all pervasive that it has become necessary to keep a digital key to access the huge trove of personal data we will leave behind to pass on to our living loved ones, after we are gone.

The metaverse, that means, is not only creating a parallel digital universe for us to live in, in an ever more complete and sophisticated way, but we are also already setting up the eternal storage of our virtual life experiences to be passed down to future generations.

Though nearly invisible while in such a relatively primitive iteration, the concept, an example of overlapping advancements in innovation, is a tiny step towards digital immortality.

The metaverse could help to save us all

It’s not just professional and work related communication that relates to the gradual increase in the depth of networked communication options, but, even more so, casual and leisure communication and interaction is key.

TikTok and other video communication trends are at the forefront of of user evolution and metaverse activity expansion. When people feel motivated to find new and better ways to communicate using richer media and augmented techniques for fun, and to gain more recognition in online societies, that advances digital sophistication.

This process of the evolution of user comfort and sophistication, while existing and interacting in the metaverse, is the fastest way for the augmentation to become more effective.

There’s a mostly unseen benefit and need for this, otherwise seemingly pointless, global development

The challenges that the world faces, encroaching, devastating fallout from global warming and excess carbon in the atmosphere, political corruption and inequality, disinformation and cybercrime, and so on.

Ultimately, unlike at any time in human history, we are facing a challenge. The survival of our species and even the planet are at stake.

In the years and decades to come it will become more and more obvious that there are only two paths possible. One path toward a kind of Utopia, or another one that will lead, inexorably to Oblivion.

Though the metaverse is scary in many ways, and does not always appear as a way to a better life, augmented and enhanced communication is one of the most desperately needed ways that solutions could eventually be discovered and implemented.

And that would put this progression and evolution of tech more in service of Utopia, and could be at the heart of a rescue plan to prevent Oblivion, before it’s too late.

Above: Craig Federighi Demo Video at WWDC 2021


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