12th Oct

Apple tablet frenzy

It’s time to get excited! Many websites are speculatively reporting the release of an Apple tablet in January/February time of 2010. Cnet, Engadget, Arstechnica and Gizmodo are all on the bandwagon. The question “why should we care about what is essentially a 10 inch iPhone?” comes to mind, which is what this post focuses on.

Licensed from Gizmodo under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.

Speculated hype!

The growing hype surrounding a device that has no official confirmation of existing is typical of an impending Apple release. Reading speculative articles on a tablet from Apple can induce copious amounts of Apple-fan-boy drool. It fuels an alterative reality that asks ‘what if?’ and promises to change the world as we know it – forever! Then, when the day finally comes to watch the Apple keynote that tries to enthusiastically launch the new product, we either yawn while exhaling “saw that coming” in a dismissive tone, or end up disappointed as the device doesn’t live up to our speculative fantasy.

When you think about it, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. But thinking about things that way takes the fun out of this article, so I’ll continue pretending I didn’t say that.

I’m not going to lie. I’m one of those Apple-fan-boys. Now that’s been admitted, I can follow the steps to rehabilitation. But there is another thing to disclose. No one has a single lick of information on Apple’s presumed tablet that can’t be attributed to something we may have misunderstood.

The reports that we do have come from manufactures who are tentatively dangling precious information in front of us, like Michael Jackson holding his baby over a hotel balcony to eagerly watching fans. We want to be involved, we want to know everything, but at the same time we all understand that it could all come crashing down in a fragile and disappointing mess.

So rather than focusing on speculating what the Apple tablet hardware might perhaps be, we are going to focus on a reality distortion field of our own. Why should we care about Apple’s (perhaps fictional) tablet?

Speculated potential features!

Let’s start with a bullet-point-in-a-keynote-worthy feature of what the iTablet might do. An ebook reader! Did I hear someone sigh? Stay with me here, it gets better. Imagine, if you will, the Amazon Kindle. It’s a well-received device that has done pretty well for itself. Thanks to Amazon (and Sony) laying groundwork for the digital distribution of books, it doesn’t take a genius to reproduce this in another device. It is typical of Apple to reinvent the wheel in a more desirable and usable way, especially now the major book publishers are in the correct mindset to publish via this distribution channel. Now, imagine that iTunes sells books. Imagine reading a full-colour design-inspiring book with high-resolution pictures, video, audio, links and more, on what is essentially a 10” iPhone. Are you with me so far? I hope so.

Now, imagine that your iTablet has the capability to turn on instantly just like the iPhone and iPod Touch. Imagine that it’s always connected to your WiFi and has a constant Internet connection on the go (just like Amazon’s Kindle). Whenever you want to browse the internet, check your email, watch a YouTube video, post a quick blog entry, check your RSS feeds, you have a handy device that has a 10” LED backlit full-colour LCD screen. No longer is browsing content as restrictive and frustrating to do as it is on your phone’s tiny screen. It wont replace the usage of your phone, but it will cut into the number of times you wait for your laptop to boot up. Perhaps, one day, even replace the need for some people to buy a laptop.

Apple tablet?

Now let’s talk about apps. Let’s talk about games. Oh, and let’s assume that the iTablet has an accelerometer, GPS, a video camera and a compass while we’re at it. OK, I lied about not speculating on the potential iTablet’s hardware. But are you still with me? Good.

OK, now hold your imaginary iTablet in the air and point it at those buildings ahead of you. Press the icon of a fictional app and you have an immersive experience with augmented reality! Much better than the iPhone or Android phone’s tiny screen.

Now imagine you have bought a car mount, and place your iTablet on your dashboard for a fully intergraded navigation experience! Or pack your iTablet with your bucket and spade and take it on holiday for an interactive tour of your destination!

Don’t snap out of the fantasy yet! Next, use the device at work just like an interactive clipboard (as Star Trek promised us). And, and, and, play iPhone games on a bigger screen with more processing power and better graphics!

Do you want one yet? Yes? No? Maybe? OK, let’s stop there.

Speculated conclusion!

Of course, all this speculation is completely made up. It’s fiction. It’s fantasy. But it’s fun to read about details of what the product might be, assuming that it is in fact going to be released. But until the product is launched we have to understand that we really don’t know anything about it. We can only hope that it eventually lives up to the version forming in our minds, and pray that it doesn’t stay in Apple’s prototype lab.

Until that day, we’ll all read speculative articles and hope that we are eventually able to yawn a muted “saw that coming” in a dismissive tone, squarely aimed at an irritated Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller who will be trying to sell it to us during the keynote.

So what do you think? Yes? No? Maybe? Or sick of hearing about it?


Leave a reply below

  • October 12, 2009 at 9:07 pm // Reply

    I think the shinyness of a proper screen rather defeats the object of what e-book readers are trying to achieve, which is to emulate the experience of reading a book. I think it would need a different type of screen.

    It is by Apple though, so I won’t buy one either way.

  • October 13, 2009 at 7:03 am // Reply

    Very interesting read!

  • October 13, 2009 at 7:15 am // Reply

    I am hoping that the tablet will at least be able to integrate with a Mac and serve as a giant multitouch trackpad. I would be very very interested if you could use a stylus with it for graphic design. Otherwise it is just a big iphone to me.

  • October 13, 2009 at 7:38 am // Reply

    From the looks of the top Gizmodo pic, it looks like a full Mac with MacOS on it. So it doesnt look like its only/primary goal will be to emulate the book-reading experience. Looks like a decent product though.

  • October 13, 2009 at 8:08 am // Reply

    Nice read Adam! I am thoroughly sick and tired of reading speculation about potential future Apple releases (and indeed for any vendor) … but your tongue-in-cheek article was fun :)

  • Douglas Radburn
    October 14, 2009 at 1:40 pm // Reply

    @Haiko – From what I’ve read (all more speculation) It’ll be running the iPhone OS, not Mac OSX.

  • October 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm // Reply

    To further speculate on the speculation, it seems that Apple’s multitouch tablet will accept 10 points of input. Making potential music applications seen on the iPhone very likely, especially the piano app!

    @Andrew: Agree about the move to shiny glass screens. With the move to glass screens, taking away the less-shiny choice has been a problem for some people. Apple have recently included the antiglare option on their glass laptop lines again, which is a step in the right direction. Let’s speculate that this option may become available for the tablet?

    @Josh: The most used app on my iPhone is Air Mouse, which allows me to manipulate the mouse, keyboard & multimedia buttons on the MacMini attached to the TV. This kind of app on the tablet would be nice!

    @Haiko: Steve jobs has been quoted saying that he believes devices that are able to perform multiple functions (such as the iPhone) will win the day over devices that are specific to one task (such as the Kindle). It sounds like we both agree with him on this point. The tablet will need to be as versatile as the iPhone to succeed.

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