The Financial Times reports that an Apple tablet is all but confirmed in a report out over the weekend. FT reports that Apple is working closely with record labels on adding value to complete album downloads via booklets and liner notes -- and, by the way, a tablet is in the offing for September just in time for the holiday shopping season.
How can Apple differentiate its tablet from the miserable failure that is the Windows tablet? Good question. I've been thinking about this a lot and there are three components to a successful Apple tablet.
- Handwriting recognition is a must and it's got to be good. While the multi-touch keyboard on the iPhone and iPod touch has been a resounding success, handwriting recognition is more complicated and Apple can't afford to have another blunder like the Newton. If Apple resurrects its Inkwell technology and morphs it with its Ink Engine patent the iTablet will be the second coming.
- Voice recognition is another key technology that we need to see in the Apple tablet - imagine the iPhone 3GS Voice Control on steroids. Instead of being able to ask it to play a certain artist on query "what's playing?" it needs to take full dictation. Apple should acquire Dragon's Naturally Speaking or MacSpeech Dictate or both.
- Resolution independent apps. I don't see Apple inventing another App Store for the large screen and (as much as I want it) I don't think the Apple tablet will run the full, desktop-version of Mac OS X with full apps like Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. Instead Apple will harness the white-hot App Store for the tablet so that it can boast 65,000+ apps available at launch, but in order to make all those apps work on the larger screen of a tablet developers will have to re-code them. Apple's clearly thought about this as evidenced by its patent on resolution independent interface design.
Other features Apple needs to include are Bluetooth, which will allow the use of external keyboards, mice and speakers -- and a price point less than $800.
Update: A "books" tab under the iTunes Store could potentially turn the iTablet into a Kindle killer. Just a thought...
Now that that media has blessed the Apple tablet as a reality, what features would you need to see to take the plunge?