How about a slate MBP with a keyboard dock?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Previously, when people suggested a slate Mac, the argument against that was that all the Mac applications depend on a keyboard and mouse. While touch can replace most uses of a mouse, the virtual keyboard is so inferior to a physical keyboard, that such a device would present the user with an un-apple-like user experience.



While it's true that a slate is more convenient on the road and in the living room, getting apps that need a lot of typing on it would negate this convenience, making the folding laptop a better compromise.



Then came the iPad with the keyboard dock.



So how about a new mobile computer, sized anywhere between the iPad and the MacBook (10"-15") that can run both Intel based Mac applications, and iPad apps?



Let's imagine this device about the size of a MacBook Air, with no keyboard or optical media, but with a USB port (hopefully more than one) and video out.



Stick it in the keyboard dock, and it's running Mac OS X. You have all your Mac applications with a real file system, LAN/WAN/Wifi connectivity, the works. The keyboard functions like a keyboard, and the touch screen replaces the mouse or trackpad. Of course, you can attack a USB or bluetooth mouse, if you want.

Pull it out of the dock, and the display changes to look like an iPhone/iPad home screen, with the touch screen as your means of interaction.



This imaginary device can run three kinds of applications:
  • Mac applications - like Photoshop

  • iPad applications - like those things in the app store

  • Dual mode applications - like iWork, iTunes, Safari

You can run any application either docked or undocked. The dual-mode applications will run the Mac version when docked, and the iPad version when undocked. When undocked, as long as you only use iPad and dual-mode apps, your battery life is great. Using Mac applications causes two degradations:
  • Battery life is shorter, maybe 3-4 hours.

  • You're stuck with the virtual keyboard for entering text

I think a device like this can really replace a notebook. It can combine the convenience of the iPad on the road and in the living room, with the capabilities of a notebook in the hotel room, at your desk or in the office. Best of all, I wouldn't need to take several devices on a business trip - just this new computer with me, and a keyboard dock in the suitcase ( I seldom carry a phone any more )



What do others think?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    irelandireland Posts: 17,614member
    No...
  • Reply 2 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    No...



    Too bad!



    Can I have an xMac, pretty please?
  • Reply 3 of 12
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by synp View Post


    ...While touch can replace most uses of a mouse...

    What do others think?



    Touch can do things a mouse cannot - but a mouse can do things that touch cannot.



    The two work in quite a dramatically different way, and its only because the touch interface is so natural, that we forget how different they are.



    Imagine you are running Mac OS X and you want to select a block of text.



    In mouse language you position the mouse pointer over the beginning of the text, click down and drag to select the text.



    In touch language there is no mouse pointer equivalent. The equivalent gesture of touching down and moving your finger, would actually *scroll* the page. Text selection would require a long press to activate select mode, and then you need to drag handles.



    The difference in user-interface conventions is really very significant, and to convert a Mac OS X application to a new interface needs a lot of re-design work to accommodate the different interface.



    If you want use a touch-screen as a mouse-replacement, you need something *more* than a capacitive touchscreen input. You need a clickable screen. This would allow you to hover a mouse pointer without interaction, and then push harder to interact.



    C.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    Touch can do things a mouse cannot - but a mouse can do things that touch cannot.



    The two work in quite a dramatically different way, and its only because the touch interface is so natural, that we forget how different they are.



    Imagine you are running Mac OS X and you want to select a block of text.



    In mouse language you position the mouse pointer over the beginning of the text, click down and drag to select the text.



    In touch language there is no mouse pointer equivalent. The equivalent gesture of touching down and moving your finger, would actually *scroll* the page. Text selection would require a long press to activate select mode, and then you need to drag handles.



    The difference in user-interface conventions is really very significant, and to convert a Mac OS X application to a new interface needs a lot of re-design work to accommodate the different interface.



    If you want use a touch-screen as a mouse-replacement, you need something *more* than a capacitive touchscreen input. You need a clickable screen. This would allow you to hover a mouse pointer without interaction, and then push harder to interact.



    C.



    I disagree. While what you describe is typical for an iPhone application, the particulars of the interface can change from app to app. We have yet to see how the iWork applications interact, and I'm pretty sure it will be more in line with a trackpad than the scrolling action you describe.



    My point is that given a keyboard and a touchscreen you can get all regular Mac OS applications working. Sure, making them specifically for a touch screen would be even better, but they would be useful right there.



    And you don't really need a clickable screen. hovering doesn't get you much, and I know of no application that needs it (well, X86 with weird settings)



    I don't think Apple is going to make one (or an xMac) but I think it would be neat. I like playing fantasy Apple product once in a while.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Having a dual mode device with radically different UIs and mixed compatibility would be just a thicket of complexity, though, and therefore extremely un-Apple like.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by synp View Post


    And you don't really need a clickable screen. hovering doesn't get you much, and I know of no application that needs it (well, X86 with weird settings)



    I don't think you followed my argument.



    That might be my fault.



    Without clicking, Mac OS X applications cannot work at all. Touch gestures simply don't provide all the inputs that Mac applications expect.



    Think about operating your favourite Mac application, and then imagine it with ONLY a touch interface. What gestures would you use to scroll, to select menu items, right clicking or text selection.



    Hint. It won't work. You need a designer to re-design the app for touch. Which is why we won't ever see Mac Applications on a touch-screen.



    (Not without a click)



    C.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Having a dual mode device with radically different UIs and mixed compatibility would be just a thicket of complexity, though, and therefore extremely un-Apple like.



    It adds complexity for Apple, but not for the user.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post


    I don't think you followed my argument.



    That might be my fault.



    Without clicking, Mac OS X applications cannot work at all. Touch gestures simply don't provide all the inputs that Mac applications expect.



    Sure they do. Windows and Mac applications handle click events and drag events. Touching the screen and lifting your finger back up gives you the click. Touching the screen, moving your finger along it and then lifting it gives you a drag event. Yes, you're missing the "hover", but the hover doesn't play in most applications.

    Quote:

    Think about operating your favourite Mac application, and then imagine it with ONLY a touch interface. What gestures would you use to scroll, to select menu items, right clicking or text selection.



    In order:
    • Scroll - two fingers drag, like on the trackpad

    • Select menu items - touch the menu bar (the menu opens); touch the menu selection (the action is performed); touch outside the menu (the menu closes) - just like with a trackpad, only without the highlighting you get as you hover.

    • right-clicking - "place two fingers on the trackpad then click the button" - similar for touch

    • text selection - drag from start to finish.

    Quote:

    Hint. It won't work. You need a designer to re-design the app for touch. Which is why we won't ever see Mac Applications on a touch-screen.



    (Not without a click)



    C.



    I agree that for heavy duty work, I would connect a mouse to the keyboard dock. But this is also true of the MBP - I use a real mouse (with a real right button) when at my desk, but finger gestures are good enough for the road.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by synp View Post


    It adds complexity for Apple, but not for the user.



    Well, let's see: we've got a device on which some apps open in one OS, other apps open in another, and some open in either/or depending on how it's configured. Presumably there are types of data that can be created by some apps that can't be opened in others, unless it's the dual mode apps in which case probably they can.



    And don't get too comfortable with muscle memory for using the UI, because depending on what you're doing with the device that UI is completely different. In fact, tapping on the wrong icon will throw you from one to the other.



    I dunno, seems pretty complicated for the user. I guess you could have a Rosetta sort of thing, that ran the iPhone OS apps in emulation within OS X , but I don't think that's what you're shooting for, plus there's the whole sorting what's touch or not thing. So then you might also be able to reboot into one or the other, ala the Classic environment or Bootcamp, but that's pretty cumbersome. The only reason Apple offered Rosetta and Classic was that they kind of had to to migrate their customers to OS X, not because it made for a bitchin' computing experience.



    So if your left with trying to run two OSes simultaneously, with what file or app you want deciding which is invoked, and that's never going to be anything but funky.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aizmov View Post


    Here you go

    http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbookpro



    Pretty much, except if Apple made it, it would probably be thinner, and have a virtual keyboard for when you're not docked. Oh, and it would have a dock.



    And it would cost less than $4600.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    synpsynp Posts: 248member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Well, let's see: we've got a device on which some apps open in one OS, other apps open in another, and some open in either/or depending on how it's configured. Presumably there are types of data that can be created by some apps that can't be opened in others, unless it's the dual mode apps in which case probably they can.



    And don't get too comfortable with muscle memory for using the UI, because depending on what you're doing with the device that UI is completely different. In fact, tapping on the wrong icon will throw you from one to the other.



    I dunno, seems pretty complicated for the user. I guess you could have a Rosetta sort of thing, that ran the iPhone OS apps in emulation within OS X , but I don't think that's what you're shooting for, plus there's the whole sorting what's touch or not thing. So then you might also be able to reboot into one or the other, ala the Classic environment or Bootcamp, but that's pretty cumbersome. The only reason Apple offered Rosetta and Classic was that they kind of had to to migrate their customers to OS X, not because it made for a bitchin' computing experience.



    So if your left with trying to run two OSes simultaneously, with what file or app you want deciding which is invoked, and that's never going to be anything but funky.



    Actually, I'm shooting for dual-CPU and dual-OS running simultaneously, with the ARM processor and iPad OS running the display, and allowing Mac OS to use it. When no Mac application is running, and undocked, the Mac OS hibernates.



    Back in the day, there used to be "PC cards" for Macs that ran a full PC system on a card and you could view its screen in a window or fullscreen. Today, if you install VM:Ware or Parallels, you can open documents in either OS. These things have been done, and are far less awkward than you would think.



    If the rumored 22" iMac with touch turns out to be true, you will see how touch screens can be used for "regular" applications. After that, it's just a matter of combining, and that is not funky at all.
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