We're only a few hours away from Steve Jobs taking to the stage and introducing us to Apple's latest innovation. We can only assume at this point that this is going to be in a tablet form factor and after hearing that Apple store employees were going through confidential training today I can only assume that it's going to be available to purchase tomorrow or at least within the next few days. So what exactly will this device have? Well that's what I'm going to look at in this post.
The majority of rumors claim the screen will be OLED and about 10.1 inches. I do agree that it'll be 10.1 inches but this device is not quite a laptop and not an iPod/iPhone so the cost has to be low. This low cost, approximately £400 would be a realistic price point, requirement would mean that OLED is too expensive.
It has been claimed that the Tablet has a steep learning curve when it comes to user interaction. Is this true? Is this really the Apple approach? Look at the iPhone. This device was developed with pure ease in mind, same goes for OS X. Why would jobs suddenly decide to make things complicated for the Apple users? The height of the complication is likely to be multi touch, nothing like Magic Mouse I hope. I would love to see a screen something like the BlackBerry Storm but with a bed of sensors allowing anywhere on the screen to be pushed down and so creating a keyboard like feel.
The software is going to be interesting. Since the ordinary user really doesn't care about the OS on their portable devices I don't see Apple having a problem releasing an OS that is an expanded version of the iPhone OS. This would give it backward compatibility with existing iPhone applications but also allow it to take advantage of the added power that a tablet would have. The applications from Apple will be similar to the defaults on the Mac and iPhone. I can see them adding to the iWork and iLife suite to support more online services, perhaps even an online version of Pages, Keynote and Numbers through MobileMe and I sincerely hope to see a mobile version of these applications on Tablet and iPhone.
A big surprise will be a streaming version of iTunes offered as both a part of MobileMe but also independently. The user can store their music in the cloud using the Home Sharing functionality built into iTunes already. The Tablet will then be able to stream this music through it's 3G connection. The removal of DRM will make this service possible for music.
The final core selling point will be ebooks. We've seen with applications such as Stanza how popular these now are so it's expected that this device will partner with a number of major content providers to provide books, magazines and newspapers. It's been interesting to see how magazines such as Esquire and GQ have presented themselves on the iPhone over the last couple of months and I believe that this is a similar style to what we can expect tomorrow. Full magazines well presented and easily accessible.
No matter how many or few of these predictions turn out to be true I must say I would not like to be in Mr Jobs shoes tomorrow. The hype around this upcoming announcements has reached such an extent that even if this device is brought in on the back of unicorns being held aloft by God Himself I still can't see how it would be anything other than slightly disappointing. I hope to be proved wrong and I hope the price point is positioned well so I can buy one.