Last minute article on the tablet... Disclaimer: this is not some kind of insiders information, nor it is any real attempt to predict the future. Just some thoughts about what could turn forthcoming just-tablet into Apple device. The article was first published at one of the Russias biggest all-Mac portals, DeepApple.com on Jan 26, 2010. All of the fantasies I see around the net are just pumped-up iPhones or mass-produced MacTablets and that makes me somehow sick. Come on, do you really think apple would create a bigger iPhone to take over the world? Are Apple really that dumb just to recreate already announced HP tablet with a different logo on it and operating system in it? And why would they picture all of these colorful drops of paint on an invitation poster then? Read on! 1. The screen. Well, how long does the battery in your iPhone live with the screen turned on? And if youre on wi-fi, GPRS or 3G? Hm, does Apple plan to revolutionize online media, news and stuff with a just a bigger screen, wireless connectivity all set in a small box? I dont buy it. Recent preemptive strike by Steve Ballmer and HP clearly shows: its no big deal to make a neat tablet PC. Tablets, be it touch-screen alone or a notebooks with flip-screens are around for quiet a while already. Many of them are pretty OK and make geeks heart beat faster, but they leave everybody else pretty uninterested. Until we have real revolution in processors and/or batteries I do not think it is possible to create a real breakthrough this way. Still dont see it? Ok, another rumor, now pretty old. Remember Apple shoots and ad in a small cafe on the highway? So, the iPad may be used to manage menus, orders etc.? All day instant on, all day communicating with server wirelessly, blah-blah-blah. With nuclear battery inside - yeah. But my bet is Apple device will feature electronic ink (also known as e-ink) or some similar technology. Color e-ink is around here for some years already and several times had being reported as ready for mass production. Dates go back at least to 2006. Yeah, they were always slow and with other flows, but were talking Apple here! These was and flaws could end on Jan 27! While everybody else is looking elsewhere, Apple could be on track for years. They didnt really invent multi-touch or capacitive screens, they just connected the dots, as always. Now they can re-invent e-ink or develop some other instant-on tech. Or they can include both e-ink and LCD technologies layered against each other. Imagine the device that works loooooooong with screen on: I read my e-newspaper or a book while the battery doesnt loose any charge. And I do not need to tap the screen to keep it unlocked or turn auto-lock off. Thats the deal! 2. New interface. Instant-on display means the user can easily forget to lock the device before putting it into bag or pocket or elsewhere. More to say - remember cafe on the highway? - constant locking/unlocking of such a device will quickly become pain in the ass. Press the button, slide finger, yes, would you like a desert?, choose option, lock the device. Tens and hundreds times a day. Noooo way! I will put another dot on the map. Its called no-click project and the aim was to create, well, a no-click interface! Projects homesite demonstrates a fully functional web-site where you are not required to click at all. Navigate to a mother-button and a smaller child-buttons will appear. Navigate to desired option to select next function or move the mouse (finger?) to empty space if none of the options are OK with you. You control the device with a bit more complicated gestures than press a button or touch an icon. The big deal is you cannot perform any of these draw gestures accidently. And so you do not need to actually lock the screen. You just put iPad out of your pocket, look on instantly on display and launch an action by making circle around the desired icon or drawing a V above it. Windows 7 has multi-touch? Ok for yesterday Of course an option like this will require something beyond OS X or iPhone OS, something else OS, but a few years ago everybody thought iPhone will feature a small Leopard. People even discussed the ability to launch Photoshop on then-yet-to-come iPhone... 3. Multitasking and iPhone apps. My Macbook Pro has it. I have the ability to launch at least 10+ apps, some with multiple windows. Battery in my Macbook Pro doesnt like it. But I can, so I do. The day Apple will introduce true multitasking in a portable-mass-market-device-for-everybody will be the day of a shout. The internet will sink in my battery lives only for so less then promised posts, 3 of my apps had a hangover posts, o forgot X app and it ate my traffic posts and stuff like that. There is more sense to give users a chance to launch a limited amount of apps, so that rest of us wont screw up the whole thing. Another side. iPad must be compatible with iPhone apps, right? Ok, but if for some apps bigger screen means something like a resolution change found in modern games, for other apps it means whole new graphics and a lot of coding. I doubt all those thousands of apps will be redone overnight. Not even a overmonth. Will Apple just reject all apps not ready for new rules? I dont think so. More likely, iPhone apps will be allowed to launch in a window of some sort, something like iPhone simulator included in the SDK. And with all the multitasking buzz mentioned above the solution is... split-screen! Launch a pair of apps side by side with native iPhone resolutions each, or use fullscreen if the version of the app supports it. For some apps, split-screen is even better decision, as it might turn out to be instant spaces feature of Mac OS X. Notes and web-surfing, copy-paste on one screen, comparing documents, choosing best photo, etc. With this scenario, transition to fullscreen iPad apps will be more or less flawless. Developers would have time to fix their apps or even leave them almost as-is for a while. 4. App store. Not much to say. Something big is coming. Something that will be iTunes music store for books, magazines, news and stuff. If many (or all?) majors in print and news market will have something protected and flexible as iTunes store, with options to buy, rent, subscribe - all other media means might end up living their last years along with your grandpa... Few conclusions. While I was writing all of this, Apple sent out these invitations with colorful drops of... what? Paint? Ink? I doubt they try to say iPhone will get different colors for the case. And I doubt they try to say there will be even more color on the LCD. I think they gave us a clue... Recently Apple required all developers to enlarge icons in the app store. Analysts said it is a sign of a tablet. Indeed, it is. But if Apple planned to include iTunes of some tablet, theyd rebuilt everything. They did not, as if icons were the only thing required. Because bigger icons might be required for gestured mentioned above. Small iPhone icons are not friendly to gestures like draw a circle or draw V. This at least has some sense. Future now, once again. A device that shakes hands with a sci-fi movie based on Philip K. Dicks or William Gibsons novel. A new device. Insiders say Steve Jobs is extremely happy with tablet? Will he be so happy with a bigger iPhone? I may even believe some of the insiders now something about the e-ink and gesture interface, but they leak what must be leaked: small tablet, processor speed and stuff like that. So some PC guys can pump up bigger details while going the wrong way in general... Not smartphone, not laptop. A book/TV/iPod/phone/newspaper/computer with simple smart apps for everyday life. Just more powerful than the iPhone and not necessarily powerful and big as a Macbook Pro. Because it is all about the muse coming unexpected, a sketch made on a bench in the park or a thought being mapped right away. You do not really need a very powerful computer for that. Any serious job will require a desktop or at least a bigger monitor anyway, so what you need is a cool small device that you can use on the go. I love my notebook, but it might turn out to be old-school device overnight. In fact, any notebook might turn out to be more or less pro-device just overnight, because there will be something else for the rest of us... And the last thing. Current computer technologies are cars in the 1910th: no common rules for traffic, design, safety. Can users device play flash? Can it render some html/pdf? Can it view some major sources of information without a hitch? In many cases - especially if you dig deeper - the answer will not be good. This situation must end. There must be some standards reliable a least as traffic lights or kitchen sink designs. If the apple is to unleash Steve-happy device, it must be something that sets a new standard for a computer, handheld - and may be even internet to some degree. Once and for some epoch to come. Will see... This article was first published on a russian 'all-mac' portal DeepApple.com Jan 25 2010.