It seems that people have been talking about the Apple Tablet for years. I was convinced it was going to come out in January 2007 – which was of course the release of the iPhone. But rumors of such a device have actually been circulating the Internet since at least 2004, including a number of pretty interesting conceptual designs.
The above conceptual design (Apple Collection) from 2004 even suggested that the device would contain a CD ROM Drive. Obviously there is not a chance of this these days when we have access to so much WiFi. Apple has also proved that people don’t need CD/DVD drives with the success of products such as the MacBook Air and also the way they have revolutionized on-line music through their iTunes store.
I am absolutely convinced that a device has been developed and that it will build on the success of the iPod Touch / iPhone. I am also convinced that Apple will start to use the iTunes store to sell a range of eBooks and that the device will rival other ebook readers out there (such as the Amazon Kindle).
Basic eBook readers are already available as Apps in the Apple Apps Store and I agree with John Connell that the Eucalyptus is one of the best ones on the current market. Its likely, of course, that any new device will have a custom eBook reader built into the OS, developed specifically by Apple. An eBook reader of this type could be a real game changer in terms of educational publishing – we have already seen Course Smart education textbooks appearing iPhone / iPod Touch platform. Them might seem quite limiting on such a small screen but this is a company that is just waiting for the next device to come along. I wonder if UK publishers have started to think about this yet?
Any tablet will have connectivity and I hope that this will include optional 3G connectivity as well as WiFi. With the first live music event being streamed directly to the iPhone just a couple of weeks ago and Livestation quietly launching their first mobile application to stream live content (Al Jazeera World News) a bigger device surely has the possibility to re-invent how we interact with television and new digital media. I don’t think it will be long until you can subscribe or buy access to live events through the iTunes store. In the same way that you can currently rent films for a short period of time.
I think that there is also a possibility that the tablet device will be able to download and cache web pages (via RSS) so they can be read off line. The Amazon Kindle already does this with the New York Times. But I suspect Apple’s version will allow you access to a lot more traditional and un-traditional media sources off line and they will also be in colour.
So what will it look like?
Unlike the first tablet PC’s I think it is unlikely that the Apple tablet will have a stylus. The problem with multi-touch of course is that it relies on your figures to make it work and if your wearing gloves they are almost impossible to operate. But we also know that Apple have already thought if that. Battery life is likely to be a problem. I think Apple will go for a non-removable battery (like the new MacBooks) rather than the option to be able to change to a new battery.
All the rumors suggest that such a device will be about 10inches and look a bit like a big iPod Touch. I’m not sure about this and think that any Apple tablet will look and feel like a completely new device. Although I did like this conceptual design over on the Gizmodo site.
Here’s also a nice little YouTube video:
So when will we see the Apple Tablet appearing in our shops? This question is still up for debate and it may never appear at all. Rumors have been flying around that we might see a September launch for this new product? Traditionally, September has have been iPod an iPod launch time for Apple and I think its more likely that we will see a new range of iPods being launched in early September. The new range is likely to include additional storage, voice control (like the new shuffle) and of course cameras (including a camera on the Nano).
We may also still see a tablet launched at this time. But the latest rumours suggest that Apple may keep any device like this for a launch event in 2010. This may be to replace the traditional Keynote that occurs around the time of MacWorld in early 2010 (Apple have pulled out of the MacWorld event and key note).
One thing is for sure. Steve Jobs is likely to do the next be Apple launch event and as he is only recently back to work, you can guarantee he will want to put on an excellent show. So I guess we will just have to wait and see?
Additional special features
Its unlikely that the new tablet will have the same functionality as the proposed Apple iPhone 3Gi :-)