Like Minority Report, the film demonstrated some interesting ideas about future computer interfaces.
As CES and Apple's January 26th announcement draw near, I'm thinking about tablet computers a great deal at the moment.
If my hands are on the keyboard a mouse is a very convenient tools for pointing at things, it's close to the keyboard after all. Holding my arms up to a screen at head height is not going to work.
If a tablet was held in one hand then touching the screen to manipulate objects with the other seems to be the natural way to interact. I'm definitely looking forward to that.
The iPhone 3Gs 'oleophobic' screen coating shows that it's possible to have a capacitive touch screen that doesn't end up covered in grease smear - so that's an important technology.
The screens in Avatar were touch controlled, the only silly thing was that they were see through, presumably to enhance the movie scene. Aside from heads up displays, I can't imagine why you'd make screens transparent.
Here's my guesses/wishes on the Apple Tablet.
- Will run Cocoa Touch - like the iPhone/iPod touch
- The existing 90,000 iPhone apps will run out of the box in little gadget like windows
- XCode will be updated with a new way to go full screen if required
- The App store will be more like the iTunes store and include movie rental, and periodical subscriptions
- Device will have WiFi, Bluetooth (to link to Magic mouse and keyboard), and 3G (mininum) data. After all, Apple knows how to do all this from the iPhone
- Screen will be 1280x720 so that HD movies look awesome
- Video hardware will decode H.264 at 30fps without using too much battery
- Solid state disk - or at least an option
- Will be jailbroken within 24 hours of shipping
- Called iPad or iSlate - it's got to be i + one syllable so not iTablet
People criticise the iPhone for not multi-tasking but poor battery life complaints hurt much more. I wouldn't be surprised if the iPad only uses power for the frontmost app and sleeps everything else. The notification system is the right answer for this in my view.
The big unknown is the screen technology. If we are to replace newspapers and magazines then this device needs to be readable in daylight. When the iPhone screen debuted it was way ahead of any other phone screen, it wouldn't be a shock if they had something ready to go again.