Why do we need a Tablet/Bigger iPod Touch? (Serious discussion)

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
****EDIT****

Lemme tweak the direction of the thread a bit, and pop in the specific question, "Why I am ALMOST ready to buy the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch, but not quite," with the emphasis on features we simply CAN'T do without (or can't stand to have).



Have at it!

****/EDIT****



Ok, there have been a lot of ideas tossed around in various threads about what a larger multitouch device from Apple ought to look like, what features it should have, etc etc etc. I think we all have our own little fantasy-dream device that we'd love to have.



What I want to explore here is the question, "What features would ACTUALLY compel you to purchase such a device, why do you need them, and how much would you pay for them?"



So starting from the current (3G) iPhone and an as-yet imaginary, but similarly equipped, iPod Touch as a reference, what would you change and why? (Maybe also mention why the current iPhone or an equivalent iPod Touch doesn't meet that need.) And let's be realistic here. Off the wall junk that very few people would use will never make it into a device unless it's as part of a larger, more widely applicable feature (for example, geocaching could be introduced courtesy of a GPS that can do navigation also).



Lets also try to think of the problems that our ideas would present. What would be the complications of adding our desired features?







Here are my items:

? Bigger Screen (say, about 7"-9"): There are a lot of secondary justifications for this (better web browsing, movies, easier in-car navigation (TomTom is coming), easier typing, etc.) The big sticker for me though is that I really want a nice graphing calculator. I'm a physics undergrad and I make a lot of use of my TI-89. But the durned thing bugs the heck out of me. The display has lousy resolution (something like 160x100 or so), and is B&W. The processor is retardedly slow (its a Motorola 68000 running at 10-16MHz - Thats the same thing that was in the original Mac 128k!) making them almost useless for 3D work, and the user interface is difficult to use. Commands are so hard to get to that most people use these $150 devices as slightly more than an advanced 4 function calculator. What I really want to see is a version of Maple (really nice math program - go check it out) designed and optimized for an iPod Touch-like device.



The problem is that it would require a larger display to make it efficient enough for regular use (need a gob of space for buttons and tabs). So, having an iPod model (or mac tablet, whatever) with a large display would make this a very real possibility. Stack on all the additional justifications, and I think we have a compelling argument for a larger display.



Now, the disadvantage to this is that larger size makes the device more difficult to carry. The iPhone and iPod Touch are just the right size to get strapped to your belt. A larger device really wouldn't be. It won't fit in your pocket. So we'd arrive at a conflict: It would be a device designed to be a pocket gadget, like a phone or pda, that doesn't fit in your pocket. Would that require adding more desktop like capabilities to make it sell? I don't know, but it does sound like an invitation to feature creep to me.



? GPS: I assume that this would be included automagically, but might as well stipulate it now.

? Built-in Microphone: There are just a lot of uses for this.









That's my compelling feature set. Other niceties would include haptic feedback of some sort, good speech recognition to allow dictation, SD card slot, maybe a mini USB port so I could attach a real keyboard if needed, etc, but those are the main ones. For an iPod Touch with those three features, and about 32GB or so of storage, I'd realistically drop $400-500 tomorrow.



Final thoughts: If Apple were to make not just an iPod Touch type device, but an actual Mac with a slate form factor, that would instantly require a slew of additional, well refined, technologies to go with it: dictation, or other rapid text input method (there are some very innovative software solutions floating around the internet), haptic feedback (would be a must for a full computer), really really good battery life, and gobs of other stuff that aren't coming to mind just now. So I think that an extended and enhanced type of iPod Touch would be much more likely than a full mac slate. It would have a larger market, being usable by both Mac and PC owners, and would benefit from the stronger iPod brand (it's still more socially acceptable to admit to owning an iPod than a Mac :P ).



What are yall's thoughts?



C
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    @homenow@homenow Posts: 998member
    A stylus...it can have multi-touch as well, but for precise selection and input if you are going real work on it like taking notes or making sketches in a meeting (I'm a designer) it needs a stylus or I would not be interested in it.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    i think the first questions would have to be which os it would run. if it scales up to a full slate device (7" screen) then the touch-only ui of the iphone might be too limiting. but obviously it can't just be full-blown os x since the interface paradigm isn't designed specifically for touch. i suppose i'd lean more towards them using the iphone interface rather than os x, but i can see how that would run out of headroom for capabilities pretty fast for that form factor.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    I use ToonBoom Studio, Seashore and a couple of other arty apps so a stylus/pen input would rock.



    Audio input jack so that I can make better recordings for the above. A built-in mic is a must, but they tend to be a bit noisy.



    HDMI out is a must. I assume suers would use it for presentations... not only in small groups but also for a larger audience.



    A larger screen would be awesome as developers could then create special screens just for their apps. An audio app, for example, could switch to a screen that had buttons and controls especially designed for it.



    Solar charger. (Just dreaming, though Apple has a patent for this in-screen). I have a small portable solar charger that could trickle charge the device to extend life.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    I agree that a stylus makes sense for a tablet because there is a certain level of precision required for certain functions, especially with drawing and writing. For the iPhone and mobile devices, multi-touch is genius and stylus is cumbersome.
  • Reply 5 of 49
    celemourncelemourn Posts: 769member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    Audio input jack so that I can make better recordings for the above. A built-in mic is a must, but they tend to be a bit noisy.



    Good thought. How important would that be though? I imagine a dock connector device ought to be (and actually already is) available for such a use, so would that be sufficient (since you already would have a cord dangling out of the device) or would a built-in jack be critical? How about Bluetooth? Maybe someone could build a Bluetooth lapel mic for the lecturer to wear?

    Quote:

    HDMI out is a must. I assume suers would use it for presentations... not only in small groups but also for a larger audience.



    I've never done it, but I've heard of some people actually using WiFi to stream video, particularly for presentations, to projectors. Would that fit the bill, if Apple were to get the software side of it slicked up and very usable?



    Just as a side note, since there are lots of mentions of stylus, somebody has aparently already gotten creative on that issue: Here.



    No clue how well they work.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by @homenow View Post


    A stylus...it can have multi-touch as well, but for precise selection and input if you are going real work on it like taking notes or making sketches in a meeting (I'm a designer) it needs a stylus or I would not be interested in it.



    Stylus would be a must for me as well. Unless all you want to do is fingerpaint.



    I see a convertible over a slate. Something EeePC sized where you can flip the display over to use in tablet mode. A complement to the air.



    The in between size where it's too small to have a keyboard and too big to fit in a pocket have largely been failures. The iPhone is as good a trade IMHO as you get and without stylus or keyboard there's no really good reason to move up to a 7"-9" device.



    I guess a 7" two screen folding device would work where you can use the second surface as a virtual keyboard when you need it but a single 7" display is too small for having both a workspace and a touchtyping sized keyboard. Still, it's suboptimal without the tactile feedback. You'd really need to have a dual-touchscreen killer app to make it a reasonable tradeoff.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    celemourncelemourn Posts: 769member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Stylus would be a must for me as well. Unless all you want to do is fingerpaint.



    I see a convertible over a slate. Something EeePC sized where you can flip the display over to use in tablet mode. A complement to the air.



    The in between size where it's too small to have a keyboard and too big to fit in a pocket have largely been failures. The iPhone is as good a trade IMHO as you get and without stylus or keyboard there's no really good reason to move up to a 7"-9" device.



    I guess a 7" two screen folding device would work where you can use the second surface as a virtual keyboard when you need it but a single 7" display is too small for having both a workspace and a touchtyping sized keyboard. Still, it's suboptimal without the tactile feedback. You'd really need to have a dual-touchscreen killer app to make it a reasonable tradeoff.



    Nintendo DS?



    I've actually owned a convertible TabletPC by Fujitsu, and the impression I came away with (in terms of hardware) was that the tracking was too imprecise for good handwriting recognition (I had to write twice as large as I do on paper just to make the lines legible, and that was before the handwriting recognition kicked in), and also, the physical connection between the screen and the lower portion of the computer was very flimsy compared to a normal laptop. Also, the writing area, with a 13" or so display, felt very very cramped. It was kinda like trying to write a term paper on post-it notes. I think that if handwriting were to be implemented properly as a dominant input method, it would require a working surface about the size of a 21" LCD. Particularly if it were to be used by students.



    One of the things I experimented with when I had the Tablet was alternative input methods. I forget off the top of my head what they were called, but there are several very innovative ideas with actual software out there on the web, ready for use. IBM makes one of them (free if you register at their website). They basically work as a kind of shorthand, and rather than having a traditional QWERTY layout, have a much smaller input area. The idea is to (if I remember correctly) tap on the first letter of the word you want to input, then move to the next letter in a straight line, then the next, etc etc. It actually works pretty well, if you take the time to get used to it.



    The main need though, whether using a QWERTY or alternative input method, is for the keyboard area to appear and disappear as needed. iPhone already does this somewhat, doesn't it? As I think you were alluding to, having a dedicated keyboard take up part of the screen, as in a text editor, would just be horribly cramped on a medium sized device.



    Oh, and on fingerpainting, that's about all the (then) current generation of stylus technology was able to offer. Not nearly accurate enough to do fine detail. Would have to have a display with much higher DPI to get the kind of resolution you have with a #2 pencil. Even worse if you like writing or drawing with fine tipped drafting pencils. (yes, I do it! I'm a nerd!)



    C
  • Reply 8 of 49
    It needs to run a full version of OS X that you can install normal Mac apps on.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    • 10" screen (would prefer 11" but feel Apple will go with 10")

    • Full Snow Leo OS (optimized and smaller footprint, these types of Apple devices are likely the whole reason for Snow Leo)

    • Multi-touch UI (with no hardware keyboard)

    • Pop-out rest on back for resting (at angle - especially for typing) on desk

    • iSight

    • Glass front / aluminum rear

    • 64GB SSD (possible 128GB)

    • About 13mm deep (+/- 1.5mm)

    • Decent proc.

    • Mac desktop

    • Swipe-able docks (a clever idea might be to always keep Finder.app as the leftmost icon no matter where the users swipes to)

    • Would pay whatever (would pay €2000, I don't care)

    • Up ya boy-O!





    Optional (built-in) extras!
    • HSDPA

    • GPS

  • Reply 10 of 49
    celemourncelemourn Posts: 769member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
    • 10" screen (would prefer 11" but feel Apple will go with 10")

    • Full Snow Leo OS (optimized and smaller footprint, these types of Apple devices are likely the whole reason for Snow Leo)

    • Multi-touch UI (with no hardware keyboard)

    • Pop-out rest on back for resting (at angle - especially for typing) on desk

    • iSight

    • Glass front / aluminum rear

    • 64GB SSD (possible 128GB)

    • About 13mm deep (+/- 1.5mm)

    • Decent proc.

    • Mac desktop

    • Swipe-able docks (a clever idea might be to always keep Finder.app as the leftmost icon no matter where the users swipes too)

    • Would pay whatever (would pay €2000, I don't care)

    • Up ya boy-O!





    Optional (built-in) extras!
    • HSDPA

    • GPS




    Those are good specs. Which parts are actual needs (as opposed to dream specs), and why?
  • Reply 11 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Celemourn View Post


    Those are good specs. Which parts are actual needs (as opposed to dream specs), and why?



    All are needs, cause I need them.



    I don't think there should be regular hard drive options at all, it's time to draw a line in the sand and force a page turn.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    The Mac touch will bridge the gap between iPod touch's and Macs. Seeing that you'll need a Mac or PC desktop or notebook (running iTunes) to set up and sync this tablet device. Even though it will technically be a Mac. "Take some work with you." "Sync and go!"
  • Reply 13 of 49
    idaveidave Posts: 1,283member
    I like the touch as it is but I would add a speaker and make it about an inch bigger in each direction. The keyboard is just too small for my fingertips. Surfing would be easier with a slightly bigger screen too. Adding just an inch, it would still fit in most pockets. I wouldn't buy any tablet-like device that's much bigger. If it's not going to fit in my pocket, I'll just use a MacBook.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    olternautolternaut Posts: 1,376member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Stylus would be a must for me as well. Unless all you want to do is fingerpaint.



    I see a convertible over a slate. Something EeePC sized where you can flip the display over to use in tablet mode. A complement to the air.



    The in between size where it's too small to have a keyboard and too big to fit in a pocket have largely been failures. The iPhone is as good a trade IMHO as you get and without stylus or keyboard there's no really good reason to move up to a 7"-9" device.



    I guess a 7" two screen folding device would work where you can use the second surface as a virtual keyboard when you need it but a single 7" display is too small for having both a workspace and a touchtyping sized keyboard. Still, it's suboptimal without the tactile feedback. You'd really need to have a dual-touchscreen killer app to make it a reasonable tradeoff.



    No stylus.

    You guys still don't understand what multitouch is. If there are any owners here of the original fingerworks multtouch touchpad mouse replacement for the PC then those at least would understand.



    EDIT: Frankly, even Apple doesn't fully understand what multitouch is! Since Apple bought out fingerworks, they have been implementing Fingerwork's tech one feature at a time and I believe they are still even now learning what to do with it. Otherwise they would have figured out how to do cut and paste on the iphone already.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    jensonbjensonb Posts: 528member
    I'd be interested in a "desktop" UI with pervasive multi-touch. Definitely needs a kickstand or an iDock (iMac enclosure basically).



    But for the life of me I can't figure out why. I just think it would be cool. More rationally, I would like a Mac tablet with a stylus capable screen for graphics work. Would like, not need.
  • Reply 16 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jensonb View Post


    I'd be interested in a "desktop" UI with pervasive multi-touch. Definitely needs a kickstand or an iDock (iMac enclosure basically).



    But for the life of me I can't figure out why. I just think it would be cool.



    I think the solution to making a multi-touch UI work for the desktop is not to make the upright computer screen touch-sensitive, but rather to create a multi-touch keyboard, around the size of Apple's bluetooth keyboard, all display. The location of the F-keys could be replaced with anything, and could even be used as multiple swipe-able docks. And of course dragging a single finger across the keyboard could move the computers onscreen cursor, thus eliminating the need for a mouse completely. Though I think this would work better if the multi-touch keyboard display was a little bigger than Apple's current bluetooth keyboard.



    The issues here would not be easy to overcome, particularly when it comes to typing. Though not impossible. The plusses would be many, the keyboard could change its layout for each application, tailoring it for that app, which would be a Godsend. One possible solution to the typing issue (which Apple would never do) could be to have the underneath of the keyboard having physical keys for when the user is typing a lot they flip over the keyboard and use that. It'll be interesting.



    I'm far more interested in a multi-touch tablet though.
  • Reply 17 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea


    Stylus would be a must for me as well. Unless all you want to do is fingerpaint.



    Totally agree. Although it wouldn't shock me if it didn't work with a styles.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea


    I see a convertible over a slate. Something EeePC sized where you can flip the display over to use in tablet mode.



    I actually think that's what the 2009 MacBooks and MacBook Pro will be, after these next new ones.



    Like this:







    Forget about that home button, I didn't put it there.



    I still say you are missing the point when you say their tablet is going to be a convertible. You're misjudging who Apple will target device at IMO. I don't see it having a hardware keyboard. It's going to be all software.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    On every college campus on the planet students take notes in class. In meetings all over the world people take notes. The overwhelming majority of this note-taking is done with pencil and paper. Taking notes on a laptop with a keyboard sucks. When you take notes you want to include diagrams, you want to show relationships between ideas by the positions in which you place items on the page, you want to emphasize concepts by underlining or circling. In many circumstances notes require elements like symbols and formulas that you couldn't hope to type. In most circumstances, good note taking requires a lot more than columns of words.



    The company that finally produces a tablet that allows relatively natural, responsive handwriting (with stylus), AND searchability, will make a fortune. The problem with paper is that you have to keep it organized. Ever spend 10 minutes flipping through a legal pad of hand written notes for a date you know you recorded? Ever spend two hours searching a file cabinet for ideas you know you jotted down a couple years ago? A program that allows notes to be stored as drawn, but uses character recognition to enable search, would be the killer app that would make this device indispensable. Add multi touch to the interface and you have a recipe for the death of paper. Add downloadable textbooks and you've got an unthinkably valuable tool for academia. It could be like having an infinitely thick pad of paper, and a library all in one. The uses of such a tool are boundless.



    This is a tablet, not a folding laptop. Size wise I'd make the device itself 8.5x11 with a screen as large as possible, and the whole thing thin like a MacBook Air. I'd pay any price Apple asked.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    areseearesee Posts: 776member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacJello View Post


    ... Ever spend 10 minutes flipping through a legal pad of hand written notes for a date you know you recorded? Ever spend two hours searching a file cabinet for ideas you know you jotted down a couple years ago?



    Yes, with both paper and a computer. I'll take the paper, it's faster.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aresee View Post


    Yes, with both paper and a computer. I'll take the paper, it's faster.



    Have you ever tried Curio? It has some of the power that he is suggesting and is fast and can do things paper simply cannot.



    Say I have an entire 2 year's worth of research on Japanese history stored in Curio files, a couple thousand pages.



    -No way in heck do I want to flip through them as pieces of paper, much less store them.

    -No way I could include some of the info I have had I used paper: photos, videos, audio recordings, clippings, scans of newspaper articles, links to the web, links to other files... all well-organized (and able to be re-organized at will) so that review is easier, and it all fits in a single hard drive, not an entire closet.



    Curio also allows simple and easy copy and pasting and presentations, which lets students create study programs easily. They can review these at will, increasing performance.



    Have a peek:



    http://www.zengobi.com/products/curio/







    ---



    A history major who graduated just as the personal computer was in its infancy, I wish I had had a computer-based note-taking program back then. What they are capable of doing now is amazing. If they could do more of what MacJello suggests, they would be awesome.
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