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All-in-One PC: What are the developer possibilities?

, 16 Oct 2014 CPOL
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The All-in-One PC provides great benefits for consumers, since they are streamlined systems with high performance inside that provide instant readiness.

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Have you heard of the All-in-One PC? Basically, the All-in-One PC is a technical term for all the components that make up the computing workstation (the monitor, memory, CPU-GPU, hard drive, CD-ROM, etc.), all collaborated into one hub, or “all in one”. Keyboards and mice are still shipping with all-in-one computers, but in many of these systems, touch monitors are included as well.

The All-in-One PC provides great benefits for consumers, since they are streamlined systems with high performance inside that provide instant readiness. An uncluttered computing experience offers the user the ability to fit a system into places a regular desktop system would not, not to mention any big boxes that sit there underneath a desk or table. There’s also less clutter, since with an All-in-One PC, the system is contained within the monitor itself. There are no more tangled wires.

High performance in the All-in-One PCs are a given with support from the newest generation of the Intel® Core™ processor families:

"…. the 4th generation Intel Core processor family will enable exciting, new computing experiences and all-day battery life delivering the most significant battery life capability improvement in Intel's history," said Skaugen. "It will also bring to consumers a new wave of 'two-for-one' convertible and detachable systems that combine the best of a full PC experience with the best of a tablet in amazing new form factors." – Kirk Skaugen, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group

Visuals are also stunning, without the need for an add-on graphics card that takes up space. And with the addition of an Intel® Centrino™ wireless card, home networks can be easily set up. With many form factors from which to choose from the All-in-One PC offers the high performance of a regular desktop; it’s also slim enough for a small desk or could even be hung on the wall, but it’s also big enough to be used as an HD TV and media center in the living room or as a hub to network other wireless devices in the home.

The All-in-One PC might be best known for its ease of use. All it takes is a simple power connection, turn it on, and the system is ready to go – including touch capability. Setting this system up is not akin to setting up the traditional desktop system; the All-in-One PC just turns on. There are no monitor cables, no speaker cables, no complicated, intimidating moving parts that make computing less user-friendly, thus the consumer can more immediately dig into the computing experience. With touch capability, these systems can also improve the way the consumers interact with content and with software applications.

The All-in-One PC market is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years, with 25% projected share of desktop markets by 2015. Windows*8 offers All-in-One PCs with touch capability in order to take full advantage of this new operating system. Today’s Thin Mini-ITX-based All-in-One PC products utilize Intel’s latest Intel Core Family processors for uncompromising power and performance.

Because the fundamental design of the All-in-One PC is simple and uncluttered, they lend themselves easily to including new interfaces. Innovation includes a touch interface, adaptation of which will be driven by Windows* 8 design elements. In the near future, we’ll start to see mainstream solutions around voice and facial recognition – shades of perceptual computing. If you can visualize controlling your computer merely by using your voice or a wave of your hand, rather than a mouse, a keyboard, or even a touchscreen, then you can see just the beginnings of what perceptual computing is capable of. Perceptual computing focuses on natural human interactions with machines in addition to those familiar control apparatuses many of us have literally grown up with: facial recognition, voice commands, gesture swiping, etc. Responsive computing that is individually tailored to an individual’s unique needs is really what perceptual computing is all about. And the All-in-One PC seems to lend itself nicely to this new wave of development.

All-in-One PCs are unique in that they deliver the full functionality of a desktop PC, but also deliver complete multimedia functionality with a touch screen interface in addition to a keyboard and mouse. An All-in-One PC is a high-performance computer with a near-instant wake up time, and is always on and always connected. The larger screens of the All-in-One PCs have a stunning HD display and can provide an immersive experience when watching TV, movies, or editing photos. These computers are also very secure, and offer activated virus protection with safety integrated into online transactions.

So what does this mean for developers? Any computer that offers a more streamlined experience with ease of use built in is a good opportunity for software developers to create apps that will take advantage of these inherent advantages. In addition, since touchscreens are being included with many All-in-One PCs, app creation with touch inputs are a natural.

The developer ecosystem overall is embracing touch based applications. Touch as an input device is here to stay, with growth in the PC market reflecting this change in consumer habits. A recent study overseen by Daria Loi, UX Innovation Manager at Intel, took on the task of seeing how subjects in different countries and walks of life would interact with touch-enabled Ultrabooks (see The Human Touch: Building Ultrabook™ Applications in a Post-PC Age). The results were encouraging as far as adaptation: an overwhelming majority of the subjects surveyed were “delighted” with touch, found it very easy to work with, and were prepared to pay more for the touch experience (good news for developers looking for ways to monetize their apps!).

Touch has become a key factor and feature in PCs nowadays, and every single OEM out there has at least one touch-based device on the market. Touch is used in ultra-slim PCs which includes Ultrabooks, the MacBook Air, and other notebooks that meet this category’s specifications. These ultra-slim notebooks are predicted to account for a whopping two-thirds of touch-enabled notebooks in 2013; by 2017, that percentage is predicted to be up to 80%.

The new designs we’ve been seeing these past two years – hybrids, sliders, convertibles, and All-in-One PCs – are going to be driving a true penetration of touch in the PC and tablet market. These form factors take the best features of tablets and pair them with desktops, making up a computing package that is also going down in cost.

The All-in-One PC is developed with user experience at the forefront, responding to calls for performance, responsiveness, greater security, and longer battery life. Therefore, app developers who design apps that are created to take advantage of next generation touch and sensors will be dialing into a system that is already tailor-made for an optimum user experience. A form factor that is responsive to user needs, paired with an app that piggybacks on that responsiveness and drives the ideal of user experience even further, is a good match for developers. What will you do with this new opportunity? Share with us in the comments.

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This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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Wendy Boswell

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