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Device of the decade: Why did it take nine years for the iPad to get its own operating system?



Apple has streamlined its entire iPad lineup to replace your laptop
ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani tells Karen Roby that the base-model iPad is more capable than ever thanks to a recent update. Read more:

In January 2010, Steve Jobs famously sat on stage and walked the audience through what seemed like a scene straight out of Harry Potter. As he held a piece of glass in his hands, tapping and swiping through websites, a calendar, digital books, and a music library, the iPad came to be. 

The iPad launched in April 2010 with iPhone OS 3.2 as its operating system. The OS featured new interfaces and methods to interact with apps not found on the iPhone or iPod Touch. That same year, Apple announced iPhone OS would transition to iOS, and that’s what the iPad had used up until this year, when Apple announced the iPad would get its own operating system called iPadOS. 

When it was released, critics panned it as merely a bigger version of the iPhone. Indeed, it ran the same apps as the iPhone, but developers were able to customize the look and feel of their apps to fit a larger display. Apps like Mail could show your inbox on top of an email you were currently looking at, for example. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Another common critique of the iPad, and one that I still hear echoed to this day, is that it’s a consumption-only device — meaning it’s best suited for someone who wants to watch Netflix, manage their inbox or scroll through Facebook (i.e., consume various aspects of the digital world).

Over the past decade, the iPad has shed the “bigger iPhone” label as Apple has expanded the iPad lineup, and it’s added meaningful software features. I’ve never really viewed the iPad as a consumption device, and I’m not entirely sure Apple ever intended for it to be viewed as one. During the original announcement Apple showed off a drawing app, and Apple’s iWork suite of apps — Pages, Keynote and Numbers — were available at launch. 

I’ve been using an iPad as my main writing device since 2012. I relied on third-party Bluetooth keyboards. Heck, I wrote two digital books entirely on the third-generation iPad. There was something about the way that its software forced you to focus on a single task that I feel in love with. I immediately began looking for ways to expand the iPad beyond being my modern-day typewriter and using it more like I would a computer. Years ago, I wanted my iPad to replace my laptop.

The problem was that it took a lot of work to figure out workarounds for tasks like easily combining images, or working with the content management systems that I often run into to publish online. 

Also: iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 6: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?


One of my first reviews of a keyboard for the iPad back in 2012. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I spent a lot of time buying and testing apps, and ultimately, buying and testing more apps until I found a workflow that worked. And when all else failed, I would remotely connect to a computer and finish a given task on a computer, using my iPad. It worked, but I was in the minority of users who were willing to spend time trying to make the iPad work for me. Essentially, I had to force the iPad to be the device I wanted it to be. Still, the potential was there. 

Apple steadily updated iOS, some years adding new features specific to the iPad, other years simply updating iOS as a whole and leaving the iPad as a de facto beneficiary of the improvements. 

It wasn’t until the release of iOS 9 in 2015 that we really saw Apple start to add impactful features with the addition of split view, slide over, and picture-in-picture. The three new features improved multitasking on the iPad and were timed with the release of the first iPad Pro. Apple also debuted the Apple Pencil in 2015, adding another layer of productivity to the tablet. 

The 2015 iPad Pro — combined with iOS 9 and its new iPad-specific features and Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover — began to lay the groundwork for the iPad’s divergence from the iPhone and its ability to replace the computer, but it wasn’t quite there yet. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

In 2016, iOS 10 added split-view for multiple Safari tabs and some other minor updates. In 2017, iOS 11 was one of the biggest updates we’d seen for the iPad. Apple added a Files app for managing files and folders directly on the iPad, the application dock was redesigned, and drag-and-drop was added, making it possible to drag photos or text from one app to another. 

Throughout this time, Apple continued to update iPad hardware, releasing new models at a regular cadence. The iPad’s hardware and software were gaining momentum, boosted by Apple releasing the second-generation iPad Pro in 2017. But, in 2018, even as the iPad’s hardware became more robust and powerful, its software started to fall behind. 

Apple didn’t announce any meaningful iPad updates in iOS 12 despite releasing the third-generation iPad Pro. Safari, Apple’s web browser, wasn’t providing a desktop experience. Instead, it was defaulting to the mobile version of websites, and it severely crippled the overall experience. 

Also: Can you really run the iPad Pro as a full desk setup? This guy did

My review of the 2018 iPad Pro was mostly positive in relation to hardware, but the software was holding it back. 

With the iPad Pro dropping Apple’s Lightning connector in favor of USB-C, and Apple touting the ability to connect the iPad to external monitors and accessories, users naturally began asking for the ability to connect external storage to the iPad in addition to an improved browser and the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open at once. 


In June, Apple announced iPadOS. The iPad will still share the same core features as iOS and the iPhone, but by giving the iPad its own operating system Apple is signaling the company is ready to begin to make big changes to the iPad. 

The major changes started with iPadOS 13.1, and it included a desktop-class version of Safari, the ability to connect to external storage, vastly improved multitasking — like the ability to have multiple windows of the same app open — and a new home screen that puts more information at your fingertips. 

It’s by far the biggest updated we’ve seen to the iPad, and with a dedicated operating system in iPadOS, Apple is poised to push the iPad forward. 

Also: iPadOS pushes Apple’s tablet closer to mainstream PC replacement

Just what that looks like is uncertain, but a lot of it will have to do with user feedback (a driving force for a lot of the changes we’ve seen up until this point). 

I think, in general, it took a decade for the iPad to be ready to stand on its own because Apple has been trying to figure out the exact path forward for the iPad, and just how far to push it. The messaging from the marketing department didn’t often align with what the iPad was truly capable of. Sure, it could replace a computer for some users, and with the iPad Pro lineup (and the added versatility it provided) that dream came closer to reality. Combine the hardware and the cascading of a dedicated keyboard for even the entry-level iPad, along with iPadOS, and it’s clear that the iPad is more of a laptop now than it has ever been.

I’ve all but quit looking for apps that provide some sort of workaround to common tasks, and I can’t tell you the last time I remotely connected to my computer in order to finish a task. iPadOS is only a few months old, and it’s already had a big impact on my day-to-day workflow. 

What the next 10 years hold for the iPad is anyone’s guess, but with its own operating system, I think it’s safe to say we’re about to see the iPad truly grow as a computing device.

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5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing – TechCrunch



If I told you a decade ago that a spin bike would be a social community, you’d have had a good laugh. But that’s precisely what Peloton is: A spin bike with a social community where the instructors are the influencers.

Peloton is just one example of how social is being integrated into every aspect of the customer experience in an increasingly digital world. Whether it’s considering a new restaurant to check out, a movie to see or a product to buy, most people look at reviews before making a final decision. They want social proof as an indicator of quality and relevance.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust. Indeed, social validation is what social platforms are built on, so it’s a significant component of how we derive relevance online — and the deeper integration of social is changing the dynamic between brands and digital creators.

The shifting economy of creator monetization

Brand sponsorships are the holy grail for creators hoping to monetize their online influence. According to an eMarketer report, brand partnerships are still the No. 1 source of revenue for most digital creators.

However, digital creators have a lot more monetization options to choose from, thanks to Patreon, affiliate platforms, paid content platforms and platform revenue sharing, making it easier to earn a living without relying so heavily on brand sponsorships.

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As a result, creators are diversifying their revenue streams, which, for some creators, allows them to be more selective about the brands they work with. What’s more, creators aren’t reliant on just one channel or one form of revenue.

YouTube creators probably have the most diversified revenue, often combining brand sponsorships, subscription models, affiliate deals, tipping/donations, their line of branded products and revenue share. However, it’s important to note that not all monetization options apply to every creator. But with so many options to choose from, making a living as a digital creator is more accessible than ever.

Here are a few of the ways online creators can monetize their content:

Ad revenue sharing: Advertising is the most traditional form of revenue for online creators. With this model, ads are injected into and around the creator’s content, and they make a certain percentage of revenue based on impressions. However, the revenue split can vary based on the platform, and some platforms have a specific threshold creators must hit before they can participate in ad revenue sharing.

Affiliate marketing: Similar to advertising or a brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is an agreement for a share of revenue based on products sold. This kind of arrangement generally works best when the creator has a blog, website or YouTube account. Affiliate links allow the influencer to proactively choose the products they want to talk about and earn from, rather than having to wait for a brand deal to come their way.

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Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels, rolls out ads worldwide – TechCrunch



Instagram Reels are getting ads. The company announced today it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform and TikTok rival, Reels, to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads will be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

The company had previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber, and others.

Instagram tells us the ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore, and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company couldn’t say how often a user might see a Reels ad, noting that the number of ads a viewer may encounter will vary based on how they use Instagram. But the company is monitoring user sentiment around ads themselves, and the overall commercially of Reels, it says.

Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likey assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.

While vertical video has already shown the potential for driving consumers to e-commerce shopping sites, Instagram hasn’t yet taken advantage of Reels ads to drive users to its built-in Instagram Shops, though that seems like a natural next step as it attempts to tie the different parts of its app together.

But perhaps ahead of that step, Instagram needs to make Reels a more compelling destination — something other TikTok rivals, which now include both Snap and YouTube — have done by funding creator content directly. Instagram, meanwhile, had made offers to select TikTok stars directly.

The launch of Instagram Reels ads follows news of TikTok’s climbing ad prices. Bloomberg reported this month that TikTok is now asking for more than $1.4 million for a home page takeover ad in the U.S., as of the third quarter, which will jump to $1.8 million by Q4 and more than $2 million on a holiday. Though the company is still building its ads team and advertisers haven’t yet allocated large portions of their video budget to the app, that tends to follow user growth — and TikTok now has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Both apps, Instagram and TikTok, now have over a billion monthly active users on a global basis, though Reels is only a part of the larger Instagram platform. For comparison, Instagram Stories is used by some 500 million users, which demonstrates Instagram’s ability to drive traffic to different areas of its app. Instagram declined to share how many users Reels has as of today.

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Twine raises $3.3M to add networking features to virtual events – TechCrunch



Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester, and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.

The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub, and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding Partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.

The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders —  Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau, and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.

Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.

The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under Covid lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.

So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up live streams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.

“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.

By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up-and-running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.

“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience– and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.

Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.

The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.

Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.

“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.

Image Credits: twine

Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.

Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.

Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.

“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hoppin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”

Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.

But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.

With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements, and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.

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