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iPod touch: it’s the tablet Mac

by Rob Friesel

iPod touchI didn’t exactly “get it” with the iPhone but this week’s release of the iPod touch has me convinced: when the much-rumored, ever-coveted “tablet Mac” comes, it’s going to be an iPod. It’s going to be a big iPod (form-factor-wise, x- and y- but not z-axis-wise) with some extra, even fancy features — but it’s going to be an iPod in heart and soul. It just sort of hit me on the walk home today.

If Apple is going to give us some kind of “tablet” offering1, it’s not going to be like every other tablet PC out there. The gnarly form factors, the easily-lost styli2, the 6 lb. box that still gets hot in your hands? It all adds up to something very un-Apple. No, I would think that they’ll give us something that much more closely resembles the iPhone and its new cousin the iPod touch in both form factor, relative size, and certainly in interface.

Why reinvent the tablet PC when you already have a proven interface? When you already have a proven strategy? Create a small3, thin4, lightweight device that you can dock or sync over WiFi and you’re off and running. Right? I’ll grant that I’m glossing over some significant technical and engineering hurdles here5 but I don’t necessarily think that it’s completely out of reach. There’s already some pretty incredible stuff being done with the iPhone and (from the looks of it) the iPod touch. And we’re — what? — just over two months into the iPhone’s tenure.

Of course, given the length of said walk home, my imagination started to run wild:

…perhaps it’d be more of a “MacBook touch” with the screen being the touch screen tablet and it docks to the base and when you’re ready to use it you sort of “eject” the screen like you would with a CD or DVD and the screen’s interface does a little transition kind of like when it goes into Front Row and your UI environment transitions over after syncing up the docs that you wanted and…

Yeah, I got annoyed with myself, too. That would be too complicated. And clunky. And we’re right back to the very un-Apple remark. And so I’m sticking with my “iPod touch (or some such sibling) is the tablet Mac…”

Now what I’m suggesting isn’t exactly new. The “touch screen tablet” patent was granted over two years ago; and folks have been speculating about such a thing for much longer than that. Jobs’ comments be damned! The speculation is fun and (in my modest opinion) probably not all that far off — if you think of these “tablet Macs” as next generation, glorified iPod touches. And apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks so.

  1. Don’t mention why we will not see this. We’ve already heard about that. []
  2. And I think we all know how Steve Jobs feels about your stylus. []
  3. For “small” say: 8″ diagonal screen? []
  4. For “thin” does 8mm sound right? []
  5. Application installation and management comes immediately to mind, for example. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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