Apple iSlate tablet computer predictions
by Matthew James Taylor on 1 January 2010
I can't wait to see Apple's new tablet computer, iGuide or iSlate or whatever it's going to be called. I've been following all the rumours and predictions closely but many of them, in my view, are way off the mark. So here are some of my ideas that are a little different to everyone else. Time will tell if I'm any closer...
'Three' Stereo Speakers
This tablet will be a general computing device that will replace most of our desktop / laptop use. It will also be an alternative to traditional TV. As such, we will be watching movies, listening to music, playing games, and more on this slate. All of this audio will mean stereo speakers are absolutely essential.
Because the tablet can be rotated between landscape and portrait orientations there will need to be three (3) speakers in the tablet. These speakers will be close to the corners of the device and depending on the orientation, the two that are horizontal (in respect to gravity) will be actively producing sound as 'left' and 'right', the third speaker will be off. This will allow a seamless 360 degree rotation of the device without changing the stereo audio and video in respect to the person holding the slate. During a complete rotation of the tablet each of the three speakers will switch between left, right and off depending on the orientation. The iPhone cannot do this because it only has one speaker at the bottom. For stereo sound on the iPhone you must use the provided headphones. Of course the iSlate will come with headphones too.
The following diagram shows the location of the three speakers and how they work at different orientations. I also show a webcam and the home button so rotation is clear.
Full High Definition Video
The iSlate will be capable of full high definition video playback. This means it will have a screen resolution of at least 1280 x 720 pixels. This is exactly six (6) times bigger than the iPhone and iPod Touch resolution.
Multi-Hand Multi-Finger Gestures
Unlike the iPhone, this tablet computer is designed to be used with two hands. These extra 'inputs' will not be wasted by Apple. Expect to see support for many more gestures that involve both hands and multiple fingers. The beauty of multi-hand gestures is that two or more people can work simultaneously with the one device. A computer with a mouse and keyboard can only be used by one person at once.
This is a given - the Kindle killer app. But we can expect a whole new era of books on the iSlate that are nothing like what we're use to. Imagine traditional books but add full colour, animation and video and active menus / navigation. The traditional 'linear' direction of books will be gone forever because an ebook can be more like a network than a pre-defined path. It will allow people to read (or watch) the book content in any order and for some books this will be perfect. Imagine travel books where you can just look at the places you're interested in, or reference books where you look for specific information only like a recipe.
eBook Developer Tools
The iPhone SDK is great for developing apps and it's a given that there will be a similar one for the iSlate. But for the vast majority of people, developing applications for the iPhone or iTablet is completely beyond them. There has to be an easier way to get an ebook onto the device. I predict that Apple will release a simplified development tool that is tailored specifically for ebooks. Such a tool will allow everyday people to build their own ebooks along with video and images easily. This will truly be a revolution for books and magazines as everyone will become their own publisher. It has the potential to be like the blogger revolution except with far better typography and design (both important to Steve Jobs). I will take a guess here to say that the new ebook format will perhaps be an extension of the PDF format but with added functionality for video playback and navigation.
iTunes LP - the precursor to Apple eBooks?
It is no mistake that Apple uses 1280 x 720 pixel resolution for iTunes LP artwork and interfaces. It is also no mistake that all of the menus have large clickable areas. These are designed to perfectly work with the new iSlate and 'finger' tapping. The iTunes LP may have also been created using the new ebook system - could the iTunes LP's actually be ebooks? I think this is a strong possibility. So if you're wondering what ebooks are going to look like in the future, download an iTunes LP or two - they won't go to waste, you will be able to view them on the impending Apple iSlate where ever you go in beautiful high definition! Apple folks are not stupid, why develop iTunes LP for just iTunes? They had bigger plans for this all along!
Finally, here is a video of an iSlate device, it's a fake, but I think it's the closest fake yet to how it will actually look. In this video you can see a person browsing an Ikea catalogue.
Happy New Year everyone.
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