- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
As Macworld Expo approaches, we Mac fans begin to conjure up crazy ideas of what Steve Jobs could show us next. Some of the rumors have been swirling around a new tablet Mac -- specifically a slate tablet, say about 10-inches viewable and employing a modified version of the iPhone's Multi-Touch keyboard. Yes, the tablet rumor has been around for the last couple years, but now, all the ducks are in a row. Behold: Eight reasons (with and without evidence) the tablet is imminent:
#8: Macs already recognize handwriting, people.
Handwriting recognition would be a key input method for the Apple Mac tablet, and it's been built in to Mac OS X for a few years already. You only see if it in System Preferences if you're using a Wacom graphics tablet. It works, and it provides another option for writing on an Apple tablet.
#7: The multi-touch feature (as in the iPhone) is darn near perfect.
If you've used an iPhone, you know how easy it is to get around the thing. Why couldn't we control a full-size OS with this technology? Apple could easily create a larger screen that uses multi-touch.
#6: Mice and trackpads are SO last century.
Input devices like mice and trackpads aren't doing us any favors, physiologically speaking. It's no secret that the shoulder movements and forearm positioning (dorsiflexion, anyone?) required to control a standard mouse encourages injury -- just ask an orthopedist. Even the trackpad presents problems: Despite the MacBook line's cool two-finger scrolling and such, using it still contributes to shoulder, back, and arm pain. On top of that, who doesn't look a little silly trying to use a trackpad during a presentation? There’s no reason for these Draconian devices anymore, and the technology is ready to move forward.
#5: Write-on displays are ready for prime time.
And have been for a while. Wacom has been selling the wonderful Cintiq tablet display for years now, so technologically, it's practical to have a write-on display that’s up to par for graphics pros.
#4: The Apple laptop line is looking lackluster.
Apple’s laptop line has been languishing, un-revolutionized, for a few years now. The MacBook and MacBook Pro name change and Intel redesign doesn't count as a "revolution." Apple has brought all of its other marquee products into the future. Witness the iPod Touch, when the iPod classic was pretty great in the first place! A tablet Mac would bring the laptop line up to date, Apple-style.
#3: Apple loves "borrowing" other company's ideas.
I hear some people saying "But the Axiotron ModBook just came out! And it's Apple-approved!" It doesn't matter. In fact, Apple seems to relish grabbing inventions from third-party developers. Historical references: Konfabulator turned into Dashboard, and SoundJam turned into iTunes. In this case, Apple can build and maintain a touchcreen tablet better than can Axiotron because Apple can control the hardware and software, modifying it as it wishes. And Apple doesn't exactly have a bright history of licensing its operating system to other hardware-makers. So look for that to disappear soon too.
#2: The time is ripe for another revolutionary Apple device.
Another Apple hallmark here: One of Steve's favorite techniques is to take an "eh" <shoulder shrug> or poorly adopted technology with promise, and transform it into something usable, intuitive, and beautiful. Take the smartphone and MP3 player markets. Take the PC tablet market. UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) aren't going gangbusters, but they're the future. Apple's going to reinvent the industry.
#1: Apple has the patents.
On Christmas, Apple released a patent filing to the public. It's for a new scrollwheel technology, which, sure, could be for the iPod. But the patent app shows a keyboard, suggesting it may be used to navigate an operating system.
Then there's the touchscreen patent, reported by various sources in 2005. The patent drawings, signed by Jonathan Ive (Apple's head designer), may have just reflect the iPhone's multi-touch technology, but that sure looks like a tablet! Two years is a pretty reasonable development timeline, dontcha think?
So there are quite a few signs pointing to a slate-style tablet with an on-demand multi-touch keyboard and maybe even a scrollwheel. It's unlikely this machine will have an optical drive, and to keep it light, it may even have a flash memory hard drive. Get ready, this one will be a big 'un.
My advice to Apple: Bring a Mac tablet to the masses and get us out of this GUI melée. Just don't mess it up, OK?
Jennifer Berger is a freelance writer and editor with nearly 8 years of writing about Macs under her belt.