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« GarageBand for iPad? | Main | Copycat Cases? »

Could This Be The iPad's Future?

Over the weekend there have been quite a few posts around the web about Griffin's 'not actually announced but confirmed by the FCC' product PartyDock, so we won't tell you about it again, but check out thisthis and Griffin's confirmation/product page for a start. 

What we will say though is how stupidly excited the potential of this device has made us, even if it is not officially Apple sanctioned and in production yet.

Why has this device announcement got our creative cogs turning?...

The Obvious

Just being able to take the fairly small PartyDock around to someone's house or on holiday to set up and entertain the kids between pool-time and dinnertime (and the adults when the kids have gone to bed) is a huge advantage.

We have been known to take a Playstation, Wii and separate DVD player on holiday with us. Imagine if the games are such that the iPad (or even iPhone) and PartyDock is all you need to take with you to connect up to the hotel, chalet, caravan TV when you get there.

You would be bringing your iPad anyway right? Just make sure it is loaded up with all the movies, games and blogging apps you need before leaving and everything is right there in a 1.5 pound device.

Developers Wanted

With the launch titles being mini-games and one full game, all developed by Griffin, we know the PartyDock will not have Sony and Nintendo quaking in their boots, or even noticing that it exists to be honest.

Checking the RSVP (sign up) page though, you will notice that it asks if you are just a normal interested punter, or you can select, "I'm a developer and I'd like to learn about developing for PartyDock".

This is what got us excited!  There are many creative and innovative Developers out there. Who knows what kind of application they cam think up for this software/hardware? 

If Apple approve this device and if the right Developers get involved and if Griffin make it worth their while, there is massive potential here for a whole new eco-system developed around seeing your content on the big screen.

A lot of Ifs, yes, the biggest being if Apple want to let Griffin open up additional functionality.

Sony have had a big hit with the social, family and friends quiz game series Buzz, that uses a similar four player interface, wired on Playstation 2 but wireless on Playstation 3.

This is the obvious application for the PartyDock with the PR shots showing a 'Battle of the Sexes' game being played on a large-screen TV.

Multi Media and Potential Uses

As well as the games aspect, the PartyDock will allow the docked device to show photos, videos and slideshows, as well as play your music/audio collection from the iPad/iPhone. This can already be done via the Apple sold Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but it could easily replace this Apple add-on in a lot of homes and useage scenarios.

Imagine how easy it will be to sling your iPad into the waiting dock and get going, rather than trying to find the connector cable and then having it hanging off your iPad whilst trying to prop it up somehow.

But what if this dock could be used for web browsing, typing up a blog post or editing Pages documents? We have no idea if it is possible but what if Developers could make the PartyDock work with eight or even sixteen or more controllers and it was permanently connected to a projector in a classroom as a 'quiz master' device?

Educators could design a custom set of questions for the quizzes making revision and learning a lot more fun and interactive, using fastest finger type of quizzes but also poll and multiple choice questions with onscreen charts showing the summary results.  

Now that some schools are issuing iPads to new students on enrolment this September, or setting up iPad labs (recommended reading), this is a definite real-life scenario that could be developed.

Pie-in-the-sky scenario 

What about editing a video on the iPad with an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad type of device (not currently compatible - no mouse pointer) and your 40" TV acting as the external display?

The iPad, especially future more powerful versions, suddenly becomes a computer replacement!

Ok, we may have just wandered off into fantasy land for a second there, but even if it is not the PartyDock's purpose to enable a 'computer replacement' scenario, if Apple approve this device the potential is there for some sort of dock for the iPad (and even future versions of the iPhone) that can provide this kind of functionality.

We have already said that the Mac's days are numbered, read more about that here. Maybe one day we will look back at these kind of dock interfaces and say "that's where it all started"?

Over to you

What do you think? Have we lost it? Can you think of any other uses or potential developments for these dock devices? Would you even use the PartyDock if it is approved?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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