I’m writing this post from my new iPad using the WordPress App. Pretty impressive.
The more I get to know my iPad the more I come to expect it to have access to ALL my data, regardless of whether or not it has been synced from my home PC or not. I have instant access to content from all over the Internet as though it was local, and yet I have to sit in front of my desktop to plan what data I want to sync from my home Mac to have it available on the iPad.
So, how do we fix this?
I think Apple should make it seamless to be able to browse your own content from nominated Macs from your iPad as though it was an extension of the locally stored data in the iPad.
I imagine you would give permissions on your Mac for selected iPad and iPhone devices to be able to access selected libraries of content from you Mac. For example permissions to your:
- iPhoto library
- Document directory
- iTunes library
You would be able to grant permission to access on the same local network, or across the Internet (the later obviously being much more of a technical challenge to do securely, however nothing Apple couldn’t solve).
Once granted, the user should be able to natively see this content in local apps like Photos, iPod, Pages, Numbers, Keynote. The iDisk application could also browse your Mac’s local filesystem (from the directories you chose to share) from where you could open a file using any App that supported the doctype.
As an aside, I played with Keynote today and was amazed I couldn’t import a file from my iDisk within the App. It was easy enough to open the iDisk App and open the file, however this kind of “suggestive integration cross-selling” is something I have come to expect from Apple.
Now, once the content is browseable from my iPad without jumping any hoops or any new learning curve in the wonders of networking, there are some specific functions that I would love to be able to perform on my content from the comfort of my couch, bed, coffee shop.
Photos – basically the ability to manage and clean up my library from the iPad
- rating my photos
- adding face detection
- hiding or deleting photos
- creating an Album
- publishing photos to the Internet
Oh, and if I had an Apple TV (I do) I would like the exercise to be visible on my home TV so that the process can be a social experience.
iTunes – the ability to manage what it synced to my iPad from my iPad.
- tagging new songs, playlists, photo albums, videos, etc on my Mac to be synced to my iPad (and iPhone) while using my iPad on the couch or on the bus.
- ability to subscribe to new podcasts.
- ability to initiate a download of large content from iTunes from my iPad (e.g. perhaps if I’m using my iPad on 3G and I find a movie I want to buy, I should have to option to download it to my (nominated) home Mac rather than my iPad) for viewing when I’m next at home.
- Aside: in any of the local Apps where I can browse/stream content from my home Mac, I should also be able to tag that content to remain in sync and therefore flagged in iTunes as a permanent sync item (perhaps this is automatically assumed for simplicity).
I would love to implement something like this myself, however it’s only truly going to work as a deeply integrated experience that is core to the iOS, iTunes and OSX software, so I would prefer to see Apple do it right.
In summary, I see the iPad as a ultra portable window to my whole computing world. I don’t want to have to think about the barriers between where my content is stored, in particular my own content. Applications need to evolve to be available in different form factors around your content, not the current method where the content needs to follow your apps.
If anyone from Apple is reading this and would like more of these ideas, I’m always available to talk about jobs:)
Here is a suggestion I posted to the Apple TV feedback site today:
I suggest you develop an iTunes “favicon” that becomes common place to host on pages that reference topics related to content that is available in the iTunes store (e.g. like icons for Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Readit, etc). Clicking the icon would either:
a) take you to the related iTunes store content for that related topic (e.g. an article about U2 might take you to the iTunes Store home page for U2).
b) might add reference to that content in some kind of “inbox” or “playlist” or “favourites” within iTunes to refer to the next time you use iTunes (Mac/PC), your iPhone/iPad iTunes, or available in a “watch queue” on your Apple T
This link could apply to references across any web site to the iTunes Music, TV Shows, Movies, Apps, eBook, Podcasts content. The link could also apply to any such content that could be viewed through Apple products (e.g. Safari, iTunes streaming, Youtube on iPhone/iPad/AppleTV). The link would allow you to open that content directly (e.g. the movie, photo, music, online video), not surrounded by a web page. It provides a convenient way to add content to a “to-be-consumed playlist” in your devic
The act of adding items to playlist might cause a Push Notification to your iPhone/iPad, or display the “ready to watch/view” dialogue box on your AppleTV (i.e. like ready to watch rented movies) to allow the user to immediately start playback on their current device if desired. This is all from clicking a link in a third party website. Taking this to the extreme, you could immediately start playing music on your home stereo (via AppleTV or similar) by clicking links on any 3rd party web site that support the iTunes favicon lin
You may support combine this with an affiliate program to give a small percentage of any potential iTunes Store sale (if relevant) to the link source. This would encourage such links to be added to third party web sites as a potential revenue source. It would drive traffic for content consumption/purchase to the iTunes store for Apple. Take the affiliate program further, you might allow individuals to host the iTunes favicon to the iTunes Store in return for iTunes Store credit (e.g. to spend on Apps).
Example Use Cases:
1) A news article about a band might link to mentioned songs, album, band in the iTunes Store. Clicking the iTunes icon would not open iTunes (although this could be a secondary option), but instead queue it to to “to listen” playlist. The user would then see this from their iPod/iPhone/iPad/AppleTV in a format friendly to immediately listen to or purchase the musi
2) A site like TED might include an iTunes icon link beside each online video on their web site. Rather than watch online, the user may want to browse talks online, adding them to their “to watch” queue, to later watch from their couch via AppleTV.
3) A blog post about an iPhone/iPad App might link to an app on the iTunes Store via this iTunes icon. Like today connecting to the iTunes Preview web site, clicking the link would (indirectly) open the App Store to purchase the application. However this icon provides an “official” graphical link (i.e. not a text based URL) and, if applicable, may provide a commission to the affliate web sit
4) A tweet might include a shortened URL to the equivalent of the iTunes link to achieve the same result (i.e. just without the graphical iTunes favicon). The linker gets affiliate compensation. The user immediately adds content to the to-watch inbox. You may have a format of the link that would directly open the content in the local applicatio
5) If Apple ever enhanced Apple TV to be more of a web consumption device (e.g. to read blogs, RSS feeds, etc) the favicon icon could be supported in a “TV remote” style of browsing to easily allow adding related content in the article to your “to watch” queu
Quick predictions of where Apple is taking the Apple TV product having been reading reviews of the iPad…
Take a look at the interactivity of the MLB app. The combination of video with interactive data (field layout, scoreboard, player stats). Now imagine that experience was standard for your home TV? Is this not the future of television, to provide interactive mashup of video and data that the end user can control?
Of course not all programming would benefit from the combination of a video and data stream, however for that content that would benefit, the interactivity and personalisation offered would exceed anything that digitial free-to-air or cable TV can provide. I used to think that Apple should put a digital tuner in the Apple TV, however assuming they can win over all the networks to make their content available within iPad applications (either within iTunes or in their own native apps) then now I see no reason why that feed of TV shouldn’t been streaming using H.264. In other words, I could completely see the next version of Apple TV being another customised version of the iPhone OS customised for lounge room, big screen viewing.
Obviously I’m not proposing a Touch UI on your big LCD TV, but imagine the combination of the iPad or iPhone Remote App working together with your Apple TV to no only be able to select iTunes content but also able to fire up other native Apps like Hulu, Netflix, CBS, WSJ, etc designed for your big screen TV. Alternatively, a simple Apple Remote should be capable of driving the Touch UI interface of the iPad without adding too much complexity. An Apple TV variant of the iPhone OS would probably require another jump in resolution to do justice on HD TVs, however I’d expect a more tightly controlled group of Apps to be available on the app-centric Apple TV — such as content providers (video and “print”), games, interactive data like weather, etc.
Such a move for Apple would take the next step from revolutionising music (iPod), telecommunications (iPhone), print media (iPad) to also change the way broadcast television is published. For example, in conjunction with live or on-demand video (perhaps a selection of video angles or content for a given program), just as important would be broadcasting the live stream of data to support the content on display. For example:
- Stats — like live stats from a sports match (like MLB above)
- Geotags — for travel shows, news stories, etc
- Product details — for advertisements, product placements in movies/TV shows
- Social Media — for live discussion of content (like integrating Twitter comments around a story)
Just imagine the revolution of the advertising industry to allow all TV content to support links to more information for virtually anything on display (products, places, people, content, comments, opinions, ratings, etc)?
Apple doesn’t hit the market with half-baked products. It works in total secrecy on products and then on business partnerships until it has a compelling market of content. I see this the same with an Apple TV streaming live and on-demand TV. I think content partners need to come to grips with individual solutions for accessing their content via iPhone and iPad applications and users will, over time, demand more interactive and personalised viewing experience of adding data streams to their viewing. When there is more coverage from content providers familiar with this combination of video and data broadcasting, then I think Apple are in a position to lift that from the individual experience on the iPad and make it a big screen experience on the lounge room television in a more controlled but experienced broadcasting market.03.24.10
Some quick suggestions for iPhoto (submitted to Apple on 25/03/2010).
We have alternative navigation paths to photos by people (Faces) and location (Places) but nothing particularly visual for browsing by time. Sure the Events or Photos library can be sorted by date, however this doesn’t give you a good view of the distribution of your photos over time, or easily jump to photos at a particular time.
Why not leverage the same timeline UI as Time Machine where the distribution of photos is shown in a histogram style graph down the side. Show the library of Events or Photo libraries disappearing into the distance (i.e. bottom of stack is further back in time, like Time Machine).
As your mouse hovers across the timeline, the main display will show the Key Photo for the event(s) on that day (i.e. don’t go any deeper to try to show individual photos). The idea is to find an event quickly, like a Birthday, then click on the Event or Photo library to display it’s contents in the traditional grid view.
Basically, leverage this UI metaphor across numerous forms of content in the OS. For example:
- Documents, based on version of document or backup (done, in Time Machine)
- Photos, based on date taken (as proposed above)
- Music, to browse music by era (e.g. to sort your iTunes library to view music based on when it was released)
- Web History, to view history of browsing.
You could alternatively use the Cover Flow UI (scrolling horizontally, list History in Safari) however I think that the “fading into the distance” metaphor reflects something over time better, so long as it is combined with a UI widget to also view/skip to a specific period of time (like the histogram in Time Machine).
2) Age of People
Not so great for adults, but for viewing photos of kids growing up this feature would be great. In conjunction with tagging photos with names (Faces), allow the user to configure the Data of Birth of that person. They, when you hover your mouse over a person in a photo, you could also calculate how old they were in that photo (e.g. “David (18 months)”). This feature would also allow you to search photos of a person based on their age in the photo.
3) Don’t Freeze
Hopefully this is just me, but iPhoto almost always freezes my entire iMac when I rotate photos too quickly using keyboard shortcuts (e.g. command R).03.15.10
I’m sure the smart people of Apple are already thinking of this, but since they are so often late to the party maybe they need a little prompting.
iTunes is an OK media library. It has the best backend store I’ve used (only one), integrates well with my iPhone and Apple TV — making my media almost seemlessly follow me — however the UI is pretty much designed like a boring filesystem. I can browse by many tags and search, but as my library gets bigger and bigger, I just don’t know what to watch/listen. I use Genius Playlists a lot for this reason – to pick a genre to match my mood, then play.
However iTunes could be much more. Assuming people opt-in, iTunes could know what lots of people are watching/listening to right now, then create a far more dynamic and engaging experience to sit back and watch/follow others. For example, if lots of people are watching a Video Podcast right now of Diggnation, show me this on a live homepage. Obviously filter the updates to my tastes (e.g. I’ve previous subscribed to same/similar podcasts).
Similarly, suggest music on my iTunes library, or related music on iTunes Store, based on what others are listening to. If I like Coldplay but the next thing others that like Coldplay are listening to is, I don’t know (because I’m trapped in the year I stopped listening to radio), Radiohead’s latest album. Put it in prime position on my home page.
Same applies to TV Shows and Movies. If I watched “Up”, and particularly if I rated it (ask me when I finish every show/movie, like rating an App), then my live homepage should show me related movies.
Now, let’s get interesting….
Next make different channels that I might want to watch (ala YouTube) that can pretty consistently give me content that follows a theme. So I could sit down on the couch and watch podcast, TV and movies back-to-back instead of live television. Keep track of the TV shows I have watched, and present me with the next episode in that series.
This is basically taking the current personalised iTunes Store home page and making more a consumption page rather than an online store. It must be available on my Apple TV though and constantly be showing something. Don’t just have a static “sales/suggestions” page — work with the TV studios to always be streaming something related to that “channel” (e.g. in the top corner). It might be free, but if I want to watch it full screen then I must pay (if you insist). Alternatively the studios may agree to give away the episode for free while in streaming mode (i.e. free if I’m happy to watch live now and, hey, it might actually entice me to buy the next episode).
It seems to me that iTunes is sitting on a goldmine of social data about peoples preferences, yet doesn’t seem to exploit this to a content stream. Assume people are lazy and unimaginative – if you don’t “tell” then watch to watch/listen, they won’t necessarily go looking.
As I said, I’m sure Apple are already light-years ahead of me.03.9.10
I should rename this blog to something related specifically to Apple predictions…
I was reading a blog today, Great Advances are Coming to Apple Remote & Apple TV, and suddenly a few pieces of the Jobs puzzle fell into place.
Specifically Patently Apple drops all the clues (my emphasis in italics),
Although the patent brushes over this fact quickly, the fact remains that Apple TV will be able run applications beyond iTunes, such as “email, web browsers, programming guide applications or game networks…” Yes, we can easily see that Apple’s iPad will also be able to work in sync with Apple TV which is likely to run to the same operating system in the future.
Apple’s patent point # 59 specifically mentions game networks (think OnLive, as an example) and the screenview of FIG. 14 below confirms this and also phrases it differently by including game station – which could be hinting at Apple working with one of the major gaming console makers.
and finally this..
And lastly, the patent provides us with a hint that Apple TV could, at some point in time, include cellular telephone communications protocols. That would hold some interesting scenarios indeed, but I think that such a feature is a little too down-the-road.
So, why would Apple ever partner with another games network when it has tens of thousands of games in the App Store? Why not have a “games network” where a user could, using their Apple TV, download any game from the App Store as required and play the game on their TV? Perhaps iPhone games (320×280) don’t have the resolution to do justice on TV (e.g. HD 720p is 1280×720), however games developed for the iPad (1024×768) would be getting much closer to acceptable on the big screen. iPhone games may not have the same depth as consoles, however with a wireless remote (i.e. iPhone/iPod Touch with accelerometer) there is potential for the same fun factor as a Wii. And the In App purchase model would allow for quick download of new content.
Another very new angle is the announcement of Steam for Mac, there would be potential to offer richer single and multiplayer games closer to consoles. I doubt you could sell an Apple TV for the same price with the required video card to do these games justice, however if Xbox and PS3 can do it, so could Apple if they wanted to be in this market.
My long shot prediction for the Jobs master plan is therefore:
- Support iPhone apps on the iPad to provide instant library of applications.
- Promote iPad app development for the larger form factor.
- Use the iPad to get movie / TV studios used to larger scale digital sales (i.e. improve access to content)
- Release upgraded Apple TV as a true media centre with TV, current movies, games (see below) in a closed in DRM protected package.
The Apple TV clearly has lots of potential as media device. Having owned one for over a year and love it as a media player, online video store (albeit older releases) and music player, to make it a killer media device I think it needs:
- Very latest releases, at least current with DVD for that country .
- Free to air TV, either via the Internet (ala Hulu) or a Digital Tuner.
- Recording, live pause and playback of TV
Addition of games for me is a nice to have, but I can see it rounding out the purchasing decision for a family wanting an all-in-one media device.
 As an aside, I would like to see iTunes and therefore Apple TV (or, to keep the movie studios happy, only Apple TV, to keep content viewing in the lounge room) offer variable pricing for TV/movie releases but with simultaneous worldwide distribution. For example, right now I would like to watch Caprica in Australia, however I would need to wait until an Australia network picked it up for this market. I’d be happy to pay say $5 per episode for the option to watch it in time with the US release. This high premium therefore should compensate studios for the lose of premier deals with local networks. This premium price is consistent with the premium budget of Apple owners so, in my view, takes the cream off the top for the studios, gives Apple an exclusive content offering to justify a premium product, and still leaves enough in the bottom end of the market for per country DVD releases without DRM. Brilliant.02.9.10
A feature request for Apple or anyone else that cares that might also be in the business of mobile phone OS software…
When will someone realise what a pain in the a** it is to join a phone conference on a mobile phone. Here’s the usually process when dialling in from the road:
1) Reminder goes off;
2) You typically need to open the invite and copy the phone number;
3) Switch to phone app to dial (or, maybe if you lucky the number what highlighted for direct dial – depends on where number was stored)
4) Switch back from call to invite.
5) At this point you probably need to write the CEC down on paper as most phones won’t play the DTMF tones when you paste into the call app (separate idea there).
6) Switch back to phone app, manually enter CEC into phone app, hopefully in one go. At some point you probably need to actually listen to the IVR to learn what other numbers you need to press around the CEC that the meeting invite didn’t contain.
Sounds a little too hard for a basic task of joining a phone conference, right (please enlighten me if this problem has already been solved).
Here’s my feature list for modern day telepolygamy…
a) Make storing a Contact Record about phone conference number simpler
I save common Conference Entry Codes (CECs) as a contact with all the appropriate pauses (p’s) and hashes for one touch dialling. Please make it so I don’t need to do a Google Search and test dial 3 times before I get this cryptic magic number right.
b) Make booking a CEC simpler
When I’ve made my booking, email me back a vCard or similar with the contact record (point a). Include this vCard in the meeting invite.
c) Allow me to save the CEC with the appointment as another field like, but not instead of, Location
I usually have a room booked (or multiple) and then want to save / send the CEC for the call. Attaching a Contact record and sending as a vCard in a field designated by all PIMs should do the trick.
d) Allow me to dial the CEC from the appointment in one touch
(hmm, just realised I how now automatically refer to it as a touch instead of click)
When the appointment reminder pops up, allow me to dial straight into the call with one touch from the reminder window (e.g. buttons for “View”, “Close” or “Dial-in”).
e) Allow me to send the CEC to a nearby physical phone (e.g. polycom, speaker phone)
This might be low-tech, using DTMF tones, or high-tech using something like Wifi or Bluetooth. The point it in this day and age I don’t think it’s necessary to retype numbers between devices. The later, high tech, solution probably requires some standards between software and (conference) phone devices.
Let me know what you think…08.10.09
There is much speculation about whether or not Apple will release an iTablet, and if so why would anyone care. I figure where there’s smoke there’s fire therefore yes to part (a), and for part (b) I definitely think Apple will remind us why we should just give in to the power of our consumer urges and wonder how we ever lived life without such a device.
Here are my predictions for an iTablet:
1. Album Art / Notes
As rumoured on the interwebs, I tend to agree Apple will work with the music companies to provide art and additional content with full album purchases. In a digital age of digital music we have lost the tactile satisfaction of flicking through records (not that I’ve owned any) and CDs looking for the right song, then reading the album cover to cover. With a larger screen and a Touch UI, it makes sense in a multimedia device to create the same experience where you can sit on the couch with your whole music collection and flick through you collection and, in doing so, creating the full album experience instead of track by track.
This feature creates profit for Apple and the music labels, creates an experience that is difficult to mimic (for a while) from pirated music, and provides a great reason to upgrade your music library to support cover art and notes. For the consumer, the iTablet takes pride of place as a lounge room accessory.
2. Video Chat
Here’s the feature that dawned on me this morning that caused me to write this blog. The iPhone to date has not supported video chat / calls and, to be realistic I’m not convinced a phone device bopping around in your hand is the right device for video chat. However a tablet on a stand is potentially exactly the right form factor for mobile video chats – you could hold it with two hands (e.g. sitting on the couch) or on a stand (e.g. at a desk).
I’m sure Apple would push the iChat protocol, and potential bundle other benefits of a MobileMe account (e.g. encrypted calls), however to be truely revolutionary and reach mass market (assuming the iTablet has WiFi but not 3G), I would love to see them partner with Skype to create a true telephone alternative as a home, office or mobile video phone over WiFi. After all the bad press Apple have had with AT&T in the US, it would be refreshing to see Apple take the market to the next level and provide truely ubiquitous and user friendly video chat to everyone via this simple to use device without the strings of a contract attached with a mobile carrier. Perhaps they could make a deal with Skype to share revenue of Skype In / Out credit to the plain old telephone network. As an iTablet would not replace mobile phone calls (i.e. too bulky and limited WiFi everyone) this approach would not significantly erode mobile phone (i.e. iPhone / carrier) revenues, but would truely revolutionise the home phone market in particular (I’m thinking the video chat in the movie Aliens).
3. Web Browsing
An obvious one but I believe under-rated. I have wanted a thin (book size) device for browsing the web on the couch for years. I can’t believe others don’t see this alone as a killer feature. Most current affairs and articles I read these days are from the web, so why not sit on the couch in a slightly more sociable fashion to read, like a book or newspaper.
Obviously the web browser then provides the potential for all other web based applications (e.g. Facebook).
On the topic of search, personally I think the mobile web is not all about HTML on a mobile device. I think the form factor of and iPhone or iTabet and the type of input (i.e. touch) is much more manageable using the native user interface (e.g. lists in iPhone), therefore I believe something like search should be performed using a native client that structures results in a touch-friendly way. Tapping for a URL should only ever be a last resort – common applications should all have a Touch UI. In other words, a dedicated Google search client designed by Apple not Google.
4. Magazines / Books
Related to web browsing, I would love to see Apple work with the magazine industry to create eZine versions of their publications. This means full page interactive versions that resemble their print versions (i.e. without the web-style ads, but with hyperlinked ads like the magazine).
The same approach could be extended to eCatalogues, etc.
I’m not convinced that Apple could create a beautiful colour device and support long battery life require for the iTablet to be a book reader. If anyone could come up with a dual mode screen (e.g. colour and Kindle-esk e-ink like, I’m sure it would be Apple) however I think rich UI and long long battery life are too contradictory for a first version. I would however like to see basic reference books emulated with a glorious reproduction of their physical counterparts (e.g. atlas, dictionary, thesaurus).
In fact, I’ll call our an Atlas as another standalone feature, for example partnering with Google to provide a digital version of the coffee table atlas, perhaps with linked content to either a respectable encyclopedia provider (e.g. perhaps a feature of a premium subscription) or Wikipedia.
5. Photo Album / Frame
I think an iTablet would have to capitalise on the social (e.g. large enough to gather around but not as geeky as sitting around a computer) and tactile (i.e. touch interface, similar size to a traditional photo album) experience for viewing and managing photos. I’m thinking basic features like sorting, rating, cropping, rotating, sharing and perhaps adding tags / captions. I have an Apple TV and I’ve previously suggested to Apple that sitting on the couch looking at photos on the TV with friends is a much better experience for viewing and managing photos (e.g. to view photos straight after uploading from the camera). In true Apple fashion, all edits would be synced to all other devices (iPhone, PC/Mac, Apple TV, MobileMe, Facebook, etc).
As in point (1), in a digital age we have lost the tactile experience when managing our photos, however an iTablet is the perfect form factor and closest UI to simulate a traditional photo album, pile of photos or a box of photos. Of course, when not in use the iTablet could just be a digital photo frame in the lounge room.
6. Graphics Tablet
I heard this elsewhere so can’t take credit for originality, however I think Apple could bring the benefits of a graphics table to the average consumer that is currently only used by graphics professionals. An iTablet used as a touch based input device to accompany a Mac (and PC, although I doubt it as Apple has less control over the OS) could add several interesting features like those currently only available to Macbook’s with the touchpad (e.g. gestures).
7. Apple TV Integration
Probably not in the first version, however I think Apple will extend the iPhone Remote application to provide a much richer UI for controlling an Apple TV. For example, providing a dedicated UI to view your library with graphics, credits, notes, etc about music, TV shows, movies, podcasts, etc currently provided in the Apple TV menus. The idea here being that you can view your full library on your iTablet and only interrupt the currently viewing show when you have made a selection. Applying this principle to music, you could rack up your current music playlist (jukebox style) without interrupting the current song.
As an aside, my wish list and not-so-confident prediction for the Apple TV is to extend it’s digital content to support TV streaming a-la Hulu. I accept @darryn’s argument that why would Apple offer content for free that it currently sells via iTunes, therefore potentially it is only a live stream (i.e. no playback on demand), however I think this Apple TV needs to complete it’s digital transformation of the lounge room by offering some live content and I don’t see them doing this via an HDTV tuner (even though that would complete the perfect media centre) due to lack of control and partnership opportunities to create for digital delivery such as the Hulu model.
Not a killer feature but cool never-the-less, I think the iTablet will extend the concept of the OS-X Dashboard to support widgets. For example, like your digital newspaper the Tablet form factor is perfect for viewing the Headlines (RSS), Weathers, Stocks, Webcams, etc.
Assuming, which I do, the iTablet UI is a scaled up iPhone OS (not a scaled down OS-X UI) then this could just be support to run multiple existing iPhone utility-style applications arranged in a grid. This provides instant access to thousands of potential widget-like applications that you could arrange, say for 8-10 to a page, or with updates for the new SDK could potentially take up more real-estate if supported (e.g. a 1/4 tablet and/or full page view).
In order to make this device an alternative for travelling with (e.g. for commutes) I think an iTablet would need to replace the need to lug around a notebook to a from work. Therefore I would like to see the Tablet also be a kind of portable storage device to effectively carry around your currently work such as a sync of your latest work (e.g. X days worth of emails, browser history, recent documents opened, etc). This would need to be a bi-directional (or potentially mesh) sync to ensure that anything you worked from your work or home PC/Mac was available on the road from your Tablet. This is more software than hardware, but I think a compelling requirement to make an additional digitial device in your life a complement and not a pain to manage. While this may work partly with the cloud (e.g. iDisk, MobileMe) unless it has a 3G connection (which I doubt) I think this device needs to mirror your last X days of work for anywhere access.
10. Obvious Stuff
Of course there are other features that are no-brainers that I don’t think require as much argument:
- Movies — sure, it would play movies in a form factor that is actually enjoyable. I just wonder where (plane?).
- Games — after the success of the App Store I’m sure Apple has plans to support games on the wider form factor. Personally I think they should include a D-Pad or similar for physical interaction as I think the touch and accelerometer UI are not immersive enough for most games.
- Apps — as mentioned I think Apps have been key to the iPhone’s success to break away from other competing phones however the managed environment and, dare I say it the App Store approval process, has been key to the simplicity and (relative) stability of providing Apps on a low resource device. I predict an iTablet will therefore be a scaled up iPhone OS (which is already a cut down OS-X) but with some extensions to to iPhone SDK to support the devices unique features. However while touch is the primary UI, this will be iPhone at the core.
A controversial topic is how to control said iTablet. Soft keyboard? hard keyboard? stylus? handwriting?
I don’t think Apple would reduce themselves to a stylus like Windows Mobile devices or Bill’s Tablet PC. Unless they have some kind of handwriting recognition that surpasses anything seen before (like their iPhone touch UI exceeded current technologies) I don’t see them mimicking an existing poor user experience.
They will definately have a soft keyboard like the iPhone, hopefully with full size keys, however would never expect this to be used for much more than tweet length. However I would want the device to be self sufficient using the soft keyboard only if desired.
I can’t image the right design, however I think a physical keyboard would make the iTablet a true competitor to the netbook. It would somehow need to be unobtrusive when not required, as I can image Apple wanting the clean lines / view experience of a large iPod Touch like design, and would need to support typing either in your hands (e.g. couch) or at a desk, and therefore somehow support an angle or even detached from the screen.
Given I know Apple love the idea that the iPhone is one physical design that can be shipped anywhere in the world (i.e. not language specific), perhaps the hard keyboard could be an optional (Bluetooth) extra with perhaps the ability to clip on to the Tablet if desired. Alternatively, Apple could potential implement the hard keyboard with programmable key labels.
As with the iPhone, I think Apple will release enough of the above features in a version 1 to make the iTablet a compelling technical device but with some pretty revolutionary real-world applications (i.e. like the Video Chat). However being based on the iPhone OS with the benefit of time the applications for the device will then explode as developers think of more an more purposes to complement the gap between a Phone UI and a Desktop UI. I think Bill Gates was on the right idea that there is space for a Tablet PC, however missed the mark by trying to implement a full PC and OS. I suspect Apple will perfect the form factor through a minimalist design, some discretion of features and appropriate UI to create the ultimate couch / mobile UI to extend our digital lifestyles in ways that are natural evolutions of their physical counterparts.