The following is a draft I wrote prior to the announcement of the iPad, but which I didn’t publish because it was a series of hypotheses based on an as yet non-existing product. It’s a series of thoughts on how an interface of a touchscreen larger than an iPhone might look like. It is inspired by both my experiences with Macs and since recently with an iPod Touch. Here goes.
A couple of thoughts I had last night (written on 13.01.2010) about interfaces, the current state of development for the iPhone OS, how Apple could build a hybrid of Mac and iPhone OS, and how the company could build multi-tasking into its rumoured tablet. My thought were the following:
a. A new category: I don’t think the iTablet, if it exists, will be either a Mac or an iPhone. My super-superficial reason: it doesn’t fit in the Mac line-up depicted on the online Apple Store (see pic), but a more underlying reason is that I don’t see space for it in either a Mac-category or a Mobile phone/media player category. Which is not to say that it won’t do either well, but I think it will more fall into the class of Netbooks, though of course with the purpose of bombing those low-tech, low-innovation devices out of the water… just like Apple did with MP3 players and with Phones. Note from today: as it turns out, the iPad is depicted below the iPod, iPhone, and Mac lines, but time will tell where it will be once it’s on sale. owning an online casino
b. The Keyboard: I think that any 10″ screen will demand more connectivity to secondary (Apple) devices than the iPhone allows for. That means, an external keyboard and mouse, which transforms the tablet into a desktop. I have less complaints about the software-keyboard now, after working with a Touch for a while, but I still don’t see it as an alternative for longer texts, which a larger screen would warrant. Some months ago, I made a stupid mock-up of the iPhone + a keyboard (see pic), which is how I envision it looking (only better).
c. The App Store: 3 Billion Apps downloaded, Apple just reported, which also suggests a kind of lock-in. For better or worse, developers have accepted the App-store and I think it works for several reasons for both, namely more protection from pirates, more predictability for developers when developing for the black hole that is Apple, and more control by Apple, which is what Apple likes, not to mention new income streams for both. I think the App Store will continue to exist and will present new challenges when talking about a larger screen. Note from today: I don’t believe that what we will get to see in less than two months will be that what people were playing around with after the Apple keynote. iPhone apps inflated to a larger screen, come on? 4 pics 1 word
d: The User Interface: I’ve written previously about Quick Look in Snow Leopard and how I also dug its slight innovation in terms of in-icon playing of media. Previously, OS also introduced Dashboard into Tiger (I believe), whose interface, on the surface at least, resembles the iPhone. My view is that Apple will give developers the option to just keep the same resolution apps as they have offered before, though not exclusively of course. But imagine “Quick Looking” an app and still having it run inside its “Icon,” while the user does something else. For the rest, I of course think that full-screen Apps will exist, which is where Dashboard comes in, or at least a type of Dashboard. (Note: that was wrong. More below.)
Apple Dashboard in iPad-1.jpge. Integration with the Mac: One of the most underused interfaces, at least on my Mac, is Dashboard, which allows people to have continuously open widgets on anything from news, to games, to radio, to system monitoring. It’s useful for those purposes, but not really something i spend more than a few minutes at a time with. Yet the first thing that came to mind when thinking of a “Tablet,” using both iPhone and Mac interface components, was Dashboard. It creates a new layer on top of a traditional desktop, allowing for user-input and information display. When I envision someone running the apps that would work on the “iTablet” also, I think of it either being that you open up a new layer on your Mac and run the very same apps on it through something like a Dashboard-like interface. Or, and the simplest solution is usually the best, through having the Tablet sync through iTunes with regular applications on the Mac.
Note from today: well, obviously this was wrong, but there have been several theories aired of having a type of Dashboard on the iPad for apps like calculator and weather, which don’t at all make sense to run in single focus on a larger screen than the iPhone.
Further thoughts from today: I do think that we will see a new OS update for both the iPhone and iPad before the release of the iPad. This will address the concerns that people have about it just being a larger iPod Touch. For the rest, to me the only downside to this device is the lack of a front-facing camera for video-calling, and some minor things. And I also think it’s the perfect “parent device!” What the Wii was to gaming, the iPad is to computing, addressing a very very blue ocean.
As previously stated, I’m still in line to get one this year, though only after trying one first.