I don’t really do much industrial design (there’s probably a good reason for that) but I couldn’t get over a niggling (though probably baseless) inkling that Apple will be coming out with a tablet this spring. I mean, if anyone can ship a tablet that’s not lame, it’ll be Apple. Besides that, there’s just too much evidence out there that suggests rather convincingly that Apple intends to put one out sooner or later (not that they haven’t tried before), so rather than sit around and wait, I thought I’d mockup what one of these devices might look like:
Here it is with the touch keyboard:
And with CoverFlow™:
So, there were some other ideas I had about this too that venture into the realm of pure conjecture. I mean, I could have just blogged these ideas without pictures, but I think it’s certainly more compelling with them. Anyway:
- The OS will actually use the same OS as the iPhone. I mean why else would they invest so much in a paired down OS if they’re only going to use it on one platform? Ludicrous! Instead, this device will basically be a glorified iPhone, just 2.5x the size. Here’s the kicker <wild conjecture>: the iPhone SDK was delayed in order for 1) Leopard to come out (so you wouldn’t write Tiger-apps for the iPhone) and 2) because this device will launch at MacWorld, and the iPhone SDK will work for the Apple iPad Touch as well.</wild conjecture> Pretty clever eh?
- Just like the name implies, and just like its cousin the iPod Touch, this device is all about tactile user interface. There’s no solid state keyboard on this bad boy. Instead, it’s a pure software keyboard, able to be gloriously adapted and regiggered to fit the task at hand, or able to have key identifiers in any language imaginable. Heck, you could even have a Halo-specific keyboard with specific buttons for each type of grenade.
- To add an additional Minority Report-quality to this device, Apple will probably introduce their own software-driven version of the clickwheel, and it’ll probably look something like the QuickSilver constellation menus or the new Sapiens app. This interface will be necessarily for navigating around without a Dock and without having to return to the home screen. And, don’t forget how good CoverFlow looks at larger sizes.
- Although this device wouldn’t have a CD or DVD slot, it would still be an excellent device for movie playback (for all the movies you buy from the iTunes store, of course!). Imagine being cramped in an airplane seat — no more dinky iPod Video… and no more awkward 15″ laptop. You get a perfectly mobile, conveniently flat device for even the seats with the least legroom.
- Speaking of the lack of optical drive (well, the bottom-loader theory is interesting)… this device is all about wireless, just like the iPod Touch. Fortunately it has all the same ports as the MacBook Pro, but is only as thick as the lower part of that system, given that the screen is just a thin layer above the inner workings.
- There’s no mouse or touch pad on this device (though you can add a mouse via Bluetooth or USB). As with the Touch series, you interact with everything directly, rather than having the traditional out-of-body pointer experience.
- Dashboard Widgets really get their due here with a souped up WebKit rendering engine — supporting CSS animation and transforms, downloadable fonts, offline storage (for those airplane rides, again) and SVG, not to mention a lot of Core Animation goodness. And yes, with the SDK, native apps will of course be possible.
- Losing the optical drive helped another area that rocks with this device: battery life. It’d say 12 hours without too much trouble, thanks too to converting to flash drives.
So that’s about it. Part of this exercise was just to come up with a bunch of random ideas and see what other people think or what they want from an Apple tablet. If you ask me, less is more here; I don’t want just another Windows-style tablet with all the bells and whistles. I actually like my iPhone better without third-party apps. If Apple’s going to build the Apple iPad Touch (or whatever better name they come up with), I expect nothing less than a slick, streamlined experience that feels less like a computer and more like a lifestyle object.
Oh, and one more thing.