With less than 30 days until WWDC I’m starting to get anxious about what new Apple iGadgets might (or might not) be released.Â Will Steve Jobs be back from his curious sick leave to unveil the next big thing?Â Or will it be another disappointing and uneventful keynote?Â The rumors have certainly been flowing recently and whether they’re based on anything real or are just wishful thinking on the part of a few fan boys, they’ve got me hopeful that my dream mac might be in my hands soon enough.Â Either way, what might be has been enough to make me hold off on upgrading my first generation iPhone – hoping that I’m only a month or two away from that third gen iPhone hardware to go along with the 3.0 iPhone software.Â But what will this new iPhone be?Â And what of this controversial mac tablet?
About 2 months ago I was mocking up my own concept for a mac tablet when real life got in the way of blogging.Â Since then I’ve blogged very little.Â I’ve also seen (on other sites) a couple of very cool mockups, one that would be completely awesome but is at least a few years off due to it’s flexible OLED design, and another that is extremely close to what I was planning.Â Whipping up a fake now would be completely academic.
Being somewhat of a fan boy myself it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between my wish list and what I expect will really be released.Â But here’s my take on WWDC 09…
Let me start with the Steve Jobs thing.Â I started writing this post a few days before it was announced that Phil Schiller and other executives would be giving the keynote.Â I’ll just say that I wish Steve all the best.Â I had hoped that SJ would be recovered enough to be present and give the keynote.Â Although, as gizmodo.com pointed out, Steve did say that he would be out until the END of July.Â And since WWDC is July 9th I should have known.Â The fan boy in me would love to see Steve do the “one more thing”-thing one more time.Â Still, I strongly believe, and have stated it here in the past, that Apple needs to move beyond Steve as a singular figurehead.Â If someone else announces the next big thing it should prove to the financial community that Apple can thrive with or without Steve.
iPhone rev 3
I think there have been enough rumors floating around regarding a new iPhone that at least some of it has to be true.Â Not to mention the clues within the 3.0 iPhone OS.Â I think a faster processor, larger RAM, 32GB capacity, better camera, video recording and editing functionality are all a given at this point.Â The open questions lie in the form factor, the possibility of a front facing camera, and the idea of 3G being bumped up by 2x or even 4x.
While I would love to see another update to the physical design of the iPhone, sadly I expect that it will remain the same.Â As far as a front facing camera, it’s a feature that mixed with video chat would be awesome.Â However if the form stays the same, I doubt a front-facing camera will be included in this version.Â Also, Apple has a tendency to save features for later revisions and without a redesign of the iPhone’s body it’s highly unlikely that they’ll add in a 2nd camera.Â I also don’t see a camera flash in this release for the same reason.Â I hope that I’m wrong and that it’s all crammed into a new body, but I doubt it.
When Apple announced the MacBook Air I was very disappointed and felt like they missed an opportunity.Â The idea that the product was so-named because it was ‘as light as air’ (or whatever the reasoning was) seemed like a waste.Â To me the MacBook Air should have been a mac with built in wimax or 3G connectivity – the ‘Air’ then conveying freedom, or getting it’s connectivity from the air.Â This time around it seems that 3G MacBooks are a strong possibility.Â And I hope there will be a way to add the functionality to current MacBooks.
What about a smaller MacBook Air?Â Could it be Apple’s answer to a netbook?Â I doubt it.Â Not to mention that it wouldn’t have a competitive price point.Â No, my money is still on some sort of tablet.Â Read on to see what I expect that to be…
This concept from MacFormat is about the closest you could get to what I was thinking.Â The tablet could dock when at work or at a desk to provide that MacBook feel, attach to a real keyboard, charge the unit, and maybe gain other connectivity.Â Undock it to take it on the go and the touch screen would take over working much like an iPhone.
One side note:Â It’s easy to miss out on the sense of scale in this render.Â Because the designer chose a thicker beveled edge, at first this device doesn’t appear much larger than the current iPhone.Â But when you consider the keyboard to be a normal sized mac keyboard (which is the same height as the current iPhone) it means that the tablet would be standing over 10 inches tall.
But what operating system will this tablet use?Â For the longest time I always assumed Mac OS because I wanted as much power as possible, and for example, the ability to run photoshop.Â Then at some point I was led to believe that this didn’t make sense and the tablet would use the same OS as the iPhone.Â Today, I bounce back and forth between the ideas. Will run iPhone OS or Snow Leopard?Â It could go either way and there are benefits to each.Â Here are the arguments – on both sides:
Number One – When the iPhone was first announced Steve said that it ran OS X.Â We’ve since come to realize that this was quite a stretch.Â Whether or not it was based on OS X, the iPhone’s OS is in fact it’s own thing.Â Last year WWDC’s theme showed two roads.Â Apple is good at FUD and good at sweeping things under the carpet.Â They can completely change the rules in the middle of the game and their cult followers all say “oh ok.”Â (Well, more and more people are complaining – but I digress…) They’ve since renamed the OS to iPhone OS.
Well, why call it iPhone OS if it is also going to support a whole new category of personal computing devices – devices that are not phones?Â One simple answer is that the iPod Touch is not a phone, yet it runs under iPhone OS.Â Does it make sense?Â No.Â But hey, it’s Apple.Â Another answer could be that the tablet might actually be a phone and come with a decent range handset to go along with it.Â An interesting idea – not sure how practical.
Number Two – Snow Leopard now has touch support, and patents, patents, patents.Â These are of course arguments for the tablet being a ‘real’ mac, which as a consumer I might prefer.Â Gizmodo did a nice write up yesterday on “Apple’s Tablet” which used some of these arguments to favor the tablet running Snow Leopard.Â Check it out.Â And as I said above, I would like a tablet with enough power to run MacBook Pro apps.Â But the other side of this argument is that Apple tends to remove functionality that they think no one needs.Â I could see Apple releasing a tablet as more of an appliance, initially providing only the core functionality that they think most users will want in such a device.
Number Three – As I write this my laptop is sitting, well, on my lap – and it’s HOT!Â To keep battery life longer and the tablet running cooler they could use a different processor that runs cooler and uses energy more efficiently.Â And let’s not forget about ARM and Apple’s purchase of P.A. Semi.Â Of course a non-intel processor isn’t going to run Snow Leopard without a major port of the OS.Â It would however be much less work to port the iPhone OS to such a platform.
Number Four – The gizmodo.com article I mention above argues that the iPhone OS wouldn’t work in a larger device because it would be more trouble than it’s worth to reconfigure the core interface for a 10″ screen.Â Ahhh, don’t put it past Apple to figure that one out.Â I doubt we’ll see a 10″ screen filled with tiny little iphone app icons, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t just create a totally different summerboard launcher similar to the Leopard dock.Â They could also allow multiple apps to run at the same time on different spaces.
Giz also argues that current apps wouldn’t work refitted to a 10 inch screen.Â Well again, that’s not thinking it all the way through. You have to consider that the iPhone OS always had support for multiple screen sizes.Â The first thing you do in every program is check the screen size and fill your window to that size.Â If an 10 inch iPhone OS device were on the market tomorrow developers could start writing apps for it tomorrow with no further extensions.Â All Apple would have to do is give us a simulator for that device and if it has a different processor, a compiler for it.
Also let’s consider that not all current apps work on both iPhones and iPod Touches.Â Just because an app is developed for iPhone OS doesn’t mean that it has to run on all iPhone OS hardware platforms OR even on the same microprocessor.
So no, as is Trism isn’t going to work on a larger tablet.Â But it could easily be modified to run on it.Â The concept of an iPhone OS tablet would give developers a new platform to develop on, more screen real estate to work with, and an opportunity to make more money off of current apps simply by modifying existing code.Â It really could be a win-win.
Number Five – The App Store worked so well on the iPhone and is making Apple (and developers) so much money that they’ll likely want to repeat it.Â And as I said, the current app store has apps for iPod Touches and iPhones.Â It’s completely capable of supporting another device and distinguishing between them all.Â One way or another Apple will eventually extend the app store to other devices – because it’s a cash cow.
Where does this leave us?
It leaves us waiting for WWDC.Â Looking over my own arguements above I think I’m leaning toward the tablet being iPhone OS.Â That app store arguement is hard to ignore.
Well, I hope Apple does announce a tablet in four weeks. And no matter if it’s Snow Leopard or iPhone OS, I believe that Apple will re-invent it enough to make it the next big thing – and hopefully revolutionize personal computing again.