I remember seeing ads for Photoshop in a magazine in the nineties – fantastical photo montages of impossible scenes. Impossible as they were, though, I remember marvelling that I ‘couldn’t see the joins’. And that’s because as a child of the eighties, I was used to photo montage techniques in general being so ropey that unless you suspended your disbelief, it was painfully clear that they were faked.
I mention this because Photoshop (and its users) have become so good since then that today’s teenagers have probably never known a world in which utterly convincing but equally utterly false images can be conjured up with comparatively little effort.
What I can’t work out, though, is if the effect on our gullibility has been a positive one – that is, we’re aware that you can’t trust a single pixel of an image, and so always even just subconsciously question their veracity – or negative, both in that manipulated images are so ubiquitous that we just throw our hands up, and because we’re so ready to believe viral images that spread through social networks.
Much of what I watch on our television is streamed from my iPhone – usually from the iPlayer app, or from Air Video HD – via an Apple TV using AirPlay. In general, the system works wonderfully well, but there’s one major irritant. Both iPlayer and Air Video HD allow the stream to persist even when the phone is sleeping or when the app is ‘in the background’, and that’s great, of course, but the stream can get disrupted when using another app. I’m not daft enough to load YouTube and start browsing for other videos – of course they would take precedence over the existing background stream — but if I scroll past an autoplaying video on Facebook or Instagram, say, or tap on an image in Alien Blue that turns out to be a GIF, they’ll try to hijack the stream.
So I’d like some way of telling iOS ‘protect this video stream over AirPlay; play other video content on the iPhone itself’, but I don’t know what the UI would be for this. There’s a temptation to add another switch to the AirPlay overlay, similar to the Mirroring switch, but then that’s a system-wide control rather than app-specific. There again, if I understand correctly, the streaming will be handed-off from an app to a system-level process anyway, so maybe that’s not a bad thing; maybe a ‘protect current stream’ toggle isn’t a bad solution.
It may be that solving this problem is just too inelegant, and that may be why it hasn’t been solved yet. But if Apple does, I’ll be delighted.