T Day is almost upon us! All the rumour, speculation and hype that has surrounded the as-yet-unreleased Apple Tablet will all come to a head in San Francisco on January 27th 2010. Bring on Steve Jobs to do what he does best – deliver a keynote to end all keynotes.
Speculation has been at fever pitch for months and the mythical multitouch beast has been talked about in hushed tones for years. I have to plead guilty to adding to the hysteria with a few of my more recent blog posts (A litl goes a long way, Top Job and A novel approach) – all leading up to this penultimate entry before the launch edition.
We’ve seen numerous still renders of stretched iPhone mock ups but the two most convincing Tablet UI videos to surface to date have featured examples of the IKEA catalogue and Guinness World Records book Apps. Both utilise existing Apple visual language with Coverflow navigation multitouch interactivity and drag-and-drop configurators. This additional functionality will bring previous paper-based publications to life.
So what does the Apple Tablet/iSlate have in store for us later this month?
Revolutionising the publishing industry is a no-brainer, taking digital convergence to a new level with newspaper, magazine and annual subscriptions to the iTunes store – saving a fortune in production, distribution and environmental costs. The latest periodical beamed straight to your Tablet via WiFi or downloaded when syncing to iTunes brings news and information to you quicker than a visit to the news stand and enables faster response times to relevant editorial content.
The potential for standalone Apps is broadened considerably with a much larger real-estate (a 10 inch screen size makes for an enhanced user experience) and I'm sure Apple TV would receive a much needed kick in the pants if you could combine the entertainment experience in something so portable.
Imagine a flat-screen device with a slimline wall bracket or stand, transporting your video entertainment from room to room, with the ability to stream real-time video calls over WiFi. Why stop there when it makes perfect sense to subsidise the cost of the Tablet ($700?) with a 3G subscription to a network that may bundle iPhone charges as an all-in package?
Although the 10 inch screen is most likely for launch, a 7 inch Tablet has also been considered and would make sense as far as doubling the current iPhone/Touch screen size, where the 10 inch model doubles this size again.
This makes one (just about) pocket size and the larger version a more practical option when replacing newspaper and magazine publications.
So what of the ‘surprise’ features rumoured to be showcased on the new Tablet? Here’s a small selection on the wish list:
- 3D stereoscopic display (‘hyper-realistic’)
- RFID for cash-less transactions (newspaper/magazine purchase?)
- Stylus (surely Apple would redefine the ‘pen’)
- OLED low power/high contrast screen (may make Tablet too expensive)
- ARM Cortex A9 processor (fast/cool/low energy)
- Tactile feedback surface (screen levels change to form ‘keys’)
- Teleportation interface (maybe 2011?)
The form-factor of the new Tablet should also give us a hint at the next-generation iPhone so let's see how Jonathan Ive has moved the game on. The hardware in the IKEA and Guinness World Records videos has been mocked for showing a prototype that appears too light to be real. Who wants a Tablet weighing in as much as a laptop? Think MacBook Air (minus the keyboard), not MacBook Pro.
Since returning from illness, Steve Jobs has devoted himself to the Tablet project. Known for his attention to detail, drive and passion for all things Apple, the CEO of the Decade will want to deliver one of his most dynamic Keynote speeches yet if the real product is going to live up to the hype.
As a final thought, also expect to see the resurrection of the ‘Think Different’ campaign, first used in 1997. We’ve all been taking guesses at the difference the Tablet will make, it’s nearly time to find out...