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Tablet as chameleon

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
OK, so I've been knocking an idea around in a few posts, but I got to thinking about it and wanted to elaborate.

One of the best parts of the iPhone "experience" is the way the device becomes a given app. Big touch screen and virtually no dedicated hardware buttons means each application is free to create its own graphic and UI environment that, for as long as the app is running, is the device, for all intents and purposes.

I think that, more than anything else, was Apple's big breakthrough with the iPhone-- make the hardware as light and unobtrusive as possible, cover it with mostly touch sensitive screen, and let the software dictate the experience. So, the memo recording app has a big picture of a mic on the screen because, for as long as you run the app, the iPhone is a recorder. Not a handset running a recorder app, but a dedicated recording device, per se, at least conceptually.

So what if that is what Apple has in mind for a tablet? Thin and light as possible, all screen, and capable of being any number of "devices"?

I got to thinking about this in the thread where we were discussing electronic publishing formats, thinking about how fullscreen software could do a much better job of replicating the magazine experience than just another website on my browser ever could.

But then I started thinking of other applications that in effect could turn a tablet into a dedicated "thing." Musical instruments, recording devices, touch based photo manipulation, touch based video editing, etc.

Yeah, I know that any given application on any given computer already creates it's own environment, if you size the windows correctly, but I'm talking about a psychological phenomena wherein we move past the idea of an app "running" on an "OS" and start to perceive the entire device as simply embodying that function. An all screen, touch based tablet device means that a given app can completely transform the thing in your hands into whatever you want it to be.

Think of some of those cool iPhone apps, but better. With that kind of kinesthetic connection to the user, where touch and gesture and UI and device fuse into a single thing.

Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

OK, so I've been knocking an idea around in a few posts, but I got to thinking about it and wanted to elaborate.

One of the best parts of the iPhone "experience" is the way the device becomes a given app. Big touch screen and virtually no dedicated hardware buttons means each application is free to create its own graphic and UI environment that, for as long as the app is running, is the device, for all intents and purposes.

I think that, more than anything else, was Apple's big breakthrough with the iPhone-- make the hardware as light and unobtrusive as possible, cover it with mostly touch sensitive screen, and let the software dictate the experience. So, the memo recording app has a big picture of a mic on the screen because, for as long as you run the app, the iPhone is a recorder. Not a handset running a recorder app, but a dedicated recording device, per se, at least conceptually.

So what if that is what Apple has in mind for a tablet? Thin and light as possible, all screen, and capable of being any number of "devices"?

I got to thinking about this in the thread where we were discussing electronic publishing formats, thinking about how fullscreen software could do a much better job of replicating the magazine experience than just another website on my browser ever could.

But then I started thinking of other applications that in effect could turn a tablet into a dedicated "thing." Musical instruments, recording devices, touch based photo manipulation, touch based video editing, etc.

Yeah, I know that any given application on any given computer already creates it's own environment, if you size the windows correctly, but I'm talking about a psychological phenomena wherein we move past the idea of an app "running" on an "OS" and start to perceive the entire device as simply embodying that function. An all screen, touch based tablet device means that a given app can completely transform the thing in your hands into whatever you want it to be.

Think of some of those cool iPhone apps, but better. With that kind of kinesthetic connection to the user, where touch and gesture and UI and device fuse into a single thing.

Any thoughts?

I hear ya and understand where you're coming from. But I'm not sure it will be like that when the "tablet" finally shows up. It all depends on the hardware design I think. Yes, it will be clean and all. But I'm not sure if apps will take over the device in the same way as with the iphone/ipod touch.
If the rumors are true. And if Apple is really delaying the launch into late 2010 because they are waiting for certain components to be ready, then perhaps the experience would be like if your holding a digital magazine in your hand as opposed to a "tablet" computer running an application. Know what I mean?
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

So what if that is what Apple has in mind for a tablet? Thin and light as possible, all screen, and capable of being any number of "devices"?

Any thoughts?

Basically all that you said in that big post could have been summed up like this: Do you think apps will run fullscreen or in windows?

I think fullscreen, but they may also be able to be docked while running. Given the nature of the screen size (around 10") and its touch user interface, I think it would make most sense to make the apps run in fullscreen mode. An obvious example being an Air Hockey game, etc.

Mac touch FTW!
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Basically all that you said in that big post could have been summed up like this: Do you think apps will run fullscreen or in windows?

I think fullscreen, but they may also be able to be docked while running. Given the nature of the screen size (around 10") and its touch user interface, I think it would make most sense to make the apps run in fullscreen mode. An obvious example being an Air Hockey game, etc.

Mac touch FTW!

There's a difference between apps running in full screen mode, which is common on PCs, and apps designed for a device that uses hand friendly size, full screen and touch to create a sense of interchangeable dedicated devices, in the manner of the iPhone.

As far as I know, there's never been a 10"-ish device that takes this strategy, using soft controls and "mono-tasking" UI paradigm to encourage the illusion that each app is the device.

Of course, I don't think Apple would limit a tablet to this mode entirely, but they could prime the pump by making their own apps demonstrate the concept.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

There's a difference between apps running in full screen mode, which is common on PCs, and apps designed for a device that uses hand friendly size, full screen and touch to create a sense of interchangeable dedicated devices, in the manner of the iPhone.

Explain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

As far as I know, there's never been a 10"-ish device that takes this strategy, using soft controls and "mono-tasking" UI paradigm to encourage the illusion that each app is the device.

Clarify.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Explain?



Clarify.

He doesn't need to explain. You already demonstrated you understood by mentioning that the question could be summed up by asking whether the device will run apps full screened or windowed.

In fact, I appreciate that you simplified the question for us. I think now that there will be a choice as to which way you want to run the app....full screened or windowed. But I think the "windowed" method of running the apps would not be like how you would picture a notebook or desktop UI displaying a windowed app.
The "tablet" will probably take a different approach with that. How? I'm not sure. But it won't look like a desktop UI.
Some apps will have to be full screened (like games). But some apps will have to be "windowed" especially for multitasking.

Yup, 2010 is going to be very interesting in terms of tech. Even though there won't be any anti-gravity cars and devices. At least, there won't be any for the public.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

He doesn't need to explain. You already demonstrated you understood by mentioning that the question could be summed up by asking whether the device will run apps full screened or windowed.

In fact, I appreciate that you simplified the question for us. I think now that there will be a choice as to which way you want to run the app....full screened or windowed. But I think the "windowed" method of running the apps would not be like how you would picture a notebook or desktop UI displaying a windowed app.
The "tablet" will probably take a different approach with that. How? I'm not sure. But it won't look like a desktop UI.
Some apps will have to be full screened (like games). But some apps will have to be "windowed" especially for multitasking.

This whole post pretty much read my mind.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #8 of 21
me too
post #9 of 21
Quote:
There's a difference between apps running in full screen mode, which is common on PCs, and apps designed for a device that uses hand friendly size, full screen and touch to create a sense of interchangeable dedicated devices, in the manner of the iPhone.
Explain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox
As far as I know, there's never been a 10"-ish device that takes this strategy, using soft controls and "mono-tasking" UI paradigm to encourage the illusion that each app is the device.
Clarify.

Sounds about right to me. Expect some GUI that uses iPhone OS with bits of Mac OS X. A...pic and mix approach that suits the tablet. Possibly a few new party pieces like an enhances gesture libary of multi-touch goodness. As good as Mac Os X is...how far removed is it from Mac Os 1984?

The iPhone OS on the other hand clearly points an OS in another direction, especially for the device at hand. And with the 'rumoured' device being a tablet I'd be surprised if it looked like Leopard as standard. Apple always think of new ways of interfacing that are true to the object at hand. See iPod and iPhone. They had interfaces and an OS appropriate to what those products do. I'd expect a new paradigm for the slate. It's the perfect opportunity to do so.

However, I'd be quite happy with iPhone OS on it. There's 100K plus apps, lots of games, music and videos that work from the get go (they're not going to not use that!) and a slate would be big enough to 'dock' as a 'netbook' and use Mac apps like iWorks. I'm guessing the slate will be a giant iPhone that adds some light Mac computing to bridge the gap between the Mac and the iPhone.

It's 'X' at the end of the day. It seems highly modular with the transition from PPC to intel and to 'intel only' and to mobile computing. And bridging the two platforms is a natural evolution to me.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #10 of 21
Think Steve jobs keynote when he intro'd iphone. He prick teased the audience about 3 devices before declaring they were one device.

Chamelion indeed...the new device will be the same and more as an iPhone.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm resurrecting my own thread because there's an article up on Gizmodo that does a better job of conveying my thinking on morphing appliance computing.

The article starts by talking about Jeff Raskin's vision of an "information appliance" with a single function, so easy to use you don't even think about it. It then goes on:

Quote:
Later in his life, Raskin realized that, while his idea was good, people couldn't carry around one perfectly designed information appliance for every single task they can think of. Most people were already carrying a phone, a camera, a music player, a GPS and a computer. They weren't going to carry any more gadgets with them.

He saw touch interfaces, however, and realized that maybe, if the buttons and information display were all in the software, he could create a morphing information appliance. Something that could do every single task imaginable perfectly, changing mode according to your objectives. Want to make a call? The whole screen would change to a phone, and buttons will appear to dial or select a contact. Want a music player or a GPS or a guitar tuner or a drawing pad or a camera or a calendar or a sound recorder or whatever task you can come up with? No problem: Just redraw the perfect interface on the screen, specially tailored for any of those tasks. So easy that people would instantly get it.

Which of course is the iPhone model, and almost certainly the approach Apple will take with a tablet:

Quote:
The iPhone is the information appliance that Raskin imagined at the end of his life: A morphing machine that could do any task using any specialized interface. Every time you launch an app, the machine transforms into a new device, showing a graphical representation of its interface. There are specialized buttons for taking pictures, and gestures to navigate through them. Want to change a song? Just click the "next" button. There are keys to press phone numbers, and software keyboards to type short messages, chat, email or tweet. The iPhone could take all these personalities, and be successful in all of them.

Talk of demanding a "real computer" completely misses the point, since that's been tried and hasn't really worked:

Quote:
Instead of creating a completely new interface, closer to Raskin's ideas, Gates adapted Windows to the new format, adding some things here and there, like handwriting recognition, drawing and some gestureswhich were pioneered by the Newton itself. That was basically it. The computer was just the same as any other laptop, except that people would be able to control it with a stylus or a single finger.

Microsoft Windows tablets were a failure, and they became a niche device for doctors and nurses. The concept never took off at the consumer level because people didn't see any advantage on using their good old desktop in a tablet format which even was more expensive than regular laptops.

The "real computer" paradigm is irrelevant because we're talking about a reinvention of what "computing" even means, IMO even more profound than the original Mac:

Quote:
In this new computing world there were no files or folders, either. Everything was database-driven. The information was there, in the device, or out there, floating in the cloud. You could access it all through all these virtual gadgets, at all times, because the iPhone is always connected.

I bet that Jobs and others at Apple saw the effect this had on the consumer market, and instantly thought: "Hey, this thing changes everything. It is like the new Mac after the Apple II." A new computing paradigm for normal consumers, from Wilson's Mac-and-PC-phobic step-mom to my most computer-illiterate friends. One that could be adopted massively if priced right. A new kind of computer that, like the iPhone, could make all the things that consumersnot professionals, or office peopledo with a regular computers a lot easier.

I believe earlier in this thread Ireland was saying that all of this amounted to running apps "full screen", but I hope the above makes clear the difference. I believe the Apple tablet will be a modal computing device that does away with traditional file structures and user facing hierarchies in favor of a pure app centric, full device experience that relies on well hidden data-base access, both locally and in the cloud, to finally and fully realize Jeff Raskin's idea of a computational appliance.

The iPhone has, in fact, already done this, but the tablet will clarify matters because it will be closer to a "real computer" in most people's minds and able to take on more of their day to day computing tasks. Just not in the way they've been used to: better.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

I hear ya and understand where you're coming from. But I'm not sure it will be like that when the "tablet" finally shows up. It all depends on the hardware design I think. Yes, it will be clean and all. But I'm not sure if apps will take over the device in the same way as with the iphone/ipod touch.
If the rumors are true. And if Apple is really delaying the launch into late 2010 because they are waiting for certain components to be ready, then perhaps the experience would be like if your holding a digital magazine in your hand as opposed to a "tablet" computer running an application. Know what I mean?

Not sure if Apps will take over the device?

Here this: if it were not for the runaway success of the App Store, there would not be any Apple Tablet released this year.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

... if it were not for the runaway success of the App Store, there would not be any Apple Tablet released this year.

Link?
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
One thing I'm pretty sure of: if the tablet does use an iPhone-ish UI, a lot of people will immediately dismiss it as "just a big iPhone" without bother to consider what it can do.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
Reply
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

Link?

common sense
post #16 of 21
Edit: nevermind, i should learn to read properly.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maffrew View Post

Edit: nevermind, i should learn to read properly.

Edit: ha, you beat me to it.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Edit: ha, you beat me to it.

Indeed!

Either way, I think the Gizmodo article is on the right track. Or at least, they're on MY track. That is exactly the kind of thing I want the tablet to do and I think it's how I'd get the most use out of it.

I'd like it to be an iPhone OS-derived system with expanded and tailored capabilities. Apple has the resources and CAN manage these multiple iterations of the system and it would create the best usability scenario.

The software side feature i'm nervous about is typing. The software keyboard on the iPhone works great but presumably the screen on the tablet will be too big for two-thumb typing and I really think it will be an 'in your hands' device. If you have to set it on your lap and look straight down at it, that's going to get uncomfortable real quick. I know some people have mentioned a kick out stand, but that seems very un-Apple. I could see a desk-based dock/stand, but the tablet is a tablet because you DON'T use it at a desk.
post #19 of 21
As a designer, I'm hoping for drawing tablet functionality.
But this is more in line with what I expect to actually come about:
http://bit.ly/8Fu5yf
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm bumping my thread again because of a Daring Fireball post which quotes the NYT's David Carr when he was on Charlie Rose, talking about the iPad:

Quote:
Love this line from the New York Timess David Carr on the Charlie Rose show, regarding the iPad:

Quote:
One thing you have to understand about this gadget is that the gadget disappears pretty quickly. Youre looking into pure software.

I dont think its a coincidence that Carr is a business reporter, not a tech reporter. He sees the forest, not the trees. But this is really astute. Ive been using a Nexus One Android phone for the last few weeks, and Carrs quote summarizes the fundamental difference between Android and iPhone OS. On the iPhone, once youre in an app, everything happens on-screen, with touch. Everything. You go outside the screen to the home button to leave the app or the sleep button to turn off the device. On Android, many things happens on screen with touch, but many other things dont, and youre often leaving the screen for the hardware Back, Menu, and Home buttons, and text selection and editing requires the use of the fiddly trackball. An Android gadget never disappears.

This is precisely what I was saying in my original post, and I think the design of the iPad as announced bears it out.

People act as if lack of multitasking or hardware buttons or traditional computer file system stuff were some kind of failure of imagination or easy way out for Apple. But it seems to me that Apple is pitching a very specific idea with their touch mobile devices-- this idea that the hardware disappears and the device becomes whatever app is running.

Everything else flows from that decision. That's why I think we have to wait and see what happens when people have the iPad in their hands, and the software starts its inevitable deluge, to really get a sense of what Apple has done here. We have literally never seen a machine designed like this-- a screen big enough to do real work that morphs, sequentially, into an application specific "thing". When its a book, its a book. When its a movie viewer, its a movie viewer. And how many other things? Mixer? Light table? Musical instrument?

I think there's a psychological component here, the sense of getting multiple dedicated devices, that's probably pretty powerful. I would guess that there's going to be software that will make the $499 buy in point seem like a good deal for just that function. And it's one of the reasons that a lot of bellyaching about specs seems way off the mark to me, as are the predictions of doom because no one can figure out what's its for.
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post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I'm resurrecting my own thread because there's an article up on Gizmodo that does a better job of conveying my thinking on morphing appliance computing.

Don't you mean this article?

http://gizmodo.com/5461767/the-two-w...-make-a-tablet

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I believe the Apple tablet will be a modal computing device that does away with traditional file structures and user facing hierarchies in favor of a pure app centric, full device experience that relies on well hidden data-base access, both locally and in the cloud, to finally and fully realize Jeff Raskin's idea of a computational appliance.

So you want all the image files, the app preference files, the Word files, the mp3 files, the movie files to somehow transform into database entities that you don't have to think about? Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Databases are more or less Excel-like tables of information that aren't well suited to storing large binary data elements. They will pretty much always be stored on a filesystem directly and need to be sorted somehow.

You could of course dump them in a pile and just organize them through a metadata index but that's pretty much what a hierarchical filesystem is with the key element that every file is given a unique identifier so that it's clear to the user what file they are using.

The hidden filesystem pile is probably the best compromise for application data sharing as well as hiding whatever assumed complexity there is in a hierarchical list of items from the user. But it will get messy after a while when you start deleting apps that deal with files of a given type that nothing else recognizes. Then the user starts wondering why they are running out of space and has no control over it but I guess that's when the geeks come in again to try and explain everything and we wouldn't want that so we leave it as app-centric so that users have to do a couple of extra syncs every time they try to use the same file with 2 apps.

In short, there is no perfect solution but the desktop one is the best we have (and why almost everyone uses it without a problem).

The desktop filesystem could be simplified under the assumption that a mobile user won't have many files and have a Finder Lite that has limited categories of files:

audio, images, movies, documents, miscellaneous - similar to how the ipod categorizes things

This way all your purchased ebooks go into documents and you can read them in whatever app you want. We do have to assume that computer users can read labels though, I'm not sure if that's expecting too much of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox

We have literally never seen a machine designed like this-- a screen big enough to do real work that morphs, sequentially, into an application specific "thing". When its a book, its a book. When its a movie viewer, its a movie viewer. And how many other things? Mixer? Light table? Musical instrument?

Desktops are like this too though. When I full-screen a movie, it's a TV. When I full-screen a game, it's a console. When I full-screen Photoshop and hook up my Wacom, it's a sketchpad, when I full-screen Word, it's a word processor. This concept isn't new in any way. The only reason it seems significant on the iphone/iPad is because the complexity of mobile apps is so limited that the developers put emphasis on the UI. Games developers have done this for years though because their UIs are all done in OpenGL. Check out the Dirt 2 menu system:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLaaNxnW_-I

Games are a perfect example of the inventiveness of UI designers because they have a complete virtual 3D canvas to draw whatever they want. Desktop apps share services though and rely on muscle memory for productivity so they rely on common OS frameworks to maintain the consistency. Sometimes iphone apps are more confusing - typically a desktop app configuration is in the main app menu > preferences. iphone apps can be in the global settings pane (which inconveniently you have to access by quitting the app and then going back in to see the change you made) or it could be a little letter/symbol hidden somewhere that you can only see by touching somewhere on screen (*cough* hierarchical menu systems).

I think there's too much desperation to try and justify the iPad as a revolutionary device when it clearly isn't. The iphone was the revolution in the context of mobile devices and most of that revolution was simply doing touch interaction how it should have been done. The morphing appliance computing was just an element we hadn't seen in a phone because they weren't fast enough to do anything useful - at least not graphically. We'd only seen it on a computer but nobody had done touch properly before on a computer. Add the two concepts together and boom, revolution.

Tack on a big screen and all you've really done is tack on a big screen. The revolution was already done. The holy grail is to merge it with the productive experience that drives our homes and businesses every day and nobody has done it yet. Like Gizmodo says, there needs to be a 3rd way - a desktop OS with a custom-built UI.
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