Apple Tablet FAQ

Here’s what I think the answers are to all the key questions, and a few not so obvious ones.

Q. Does the Tablet run Mac software?

A. No. It only runs software you get from the App Store. Apps on the App Store that identify themselves as enabled and adapted for running on the Tablet. When you are on the App Store using the Tablet, you will see only apps that support (or also support, if they are already iPhone apps) the Tablet form factor and resolution. You will see the appropriate screenshots for the Tablet.

Q. Will the Tablet also run iPhone Apps that aren’t adapted for the Tablet, maybe by running them in a window or stretching them?

A. No. Like Apple, authors will have to make an effort and do the job right, adapting their app appropriately to the resolution and form factor and additional UI controls available on the Tablet’s OS, which is basically a branch of iPhone OS.

Q. Will the Tablet use windows and menus and Finder and other paradigms from OS X Leopard?

A. No, the Tablet will be basically running iPhone OS but with extra UI elements and input gestures designed specifically for the larger form factor. You will never deal with “files”, the Finder (for PC people, that’s Windows/File Explorer), device manager, Virus detectors, and other things that you don’t have to deal with on an iPhone.

Q. Will I be able to plug in a mouse? External keyboard?

A. Mouse is out of the question, the Tablet’s multi-touch UI is not designed for it, does not factor in a mouse. A bluetooth keyboard is not totally out of the question though.

Q. If the Apple Tablet is just an overgrown iPhone, do you need a PC or a Mac to sync with, back it up, set it up?

A. No. There’s an iPod connector, but it is not used for that.

Q. Then how do I get my music on it?

A. For music purchased from iTunes, it is dead simple. Provide the Tablet with your iTunes Store account name and password, and you now have instant access to all your purchased music without re-downloading it all. Apple already knows and remembers all the song files, TV shows and Movies (and now E-books) you purchased.

Q. You mean the music is always streamed to me when I want to hear it?

A. No, you create playlists, smart playlists and genius mixes through a new interface (not the iTunes app for PC and Mac as before) and then the music is synced to your Tablet from the Internet instead of from your PC or Mac’s iTunes library. Synced music (and Movies etc.) on your Tablet work when disconnected from the Internet, as expected.

Q. What about all the other MP3 and music files I have on my hard drives at home?

A. A new version of iTunes will let you upload your entire home music library to the Internet (Apple’s servers). There it will be safe, backed up, available to you always, from anywhere. Sync back to your iTunes apps (like Home sharing but from your music library on the Internet).

Q. What about my photos? How can I get them onto the Tablet?

A. Any photos placed (or synced from iPhoto or your PC) on MobileMe are safe, backed up, and swiftly accessible to you on your Tablet. The newly released Gallery app on the iPhone demonstrates how fast the experience can be. Of course, the Tablet can sync any photo album locally for albums you often look at or wish to access while disconnected from the Infernet.

Q. What if I lose the Tablet or it breaks or other issue occurs, where is it backed up if I don’t have a PC or Mac to back it up like with the iPhone?

A. Like Microsoft’s Windows Phone, your Tablef’s entire config will be backed up to the Internet.

Q. How would I update the firmware?

A. Online. The Tablet’s BIOS is Internet and WiFi aware and can perform a complete reset, restore or update after you connect it to WiFi.

Q. What about Apps? Without iTunes to manage them, how do I decide which apps I currently want on my Tablet and which I don’t?

A. The same app on the Tablet that lets you manage your music library lets you manage your apps. Since all apps come from the App Store, they are re-downloaded as needed to sync to your Tablet (or restore a Tablet).

Q. How do I get photos from my digital camera into the Tablet without a computer?

A. iPod connector to micro-USB cable. Plug in your camera, and the Tablet’s software will put your photos on MobileMe quickly and easily, where they will be backed up and safe and accessible and syncable to the Tablet.

Q. What about a built-in SD card reader?

A. Maybe. Might not make it in.

Q. What other ports are there on the Tablet?

A. Headphone jack. Charge through iPod connector. Maybe an SD slot. That’s it. No separate mike jack, micro-USB, dedicated video out port — same as iPhone but with possible addition of the SD card reader port to make importing photos and videos from camcorders easier. iPod connector flexible enough to allow video out, mike, etc. as needed.

Q. What will the Tablet be called?

A. If it is a tablet, and not some other form factor, it will be called iPod slate or iPod tablet or iPod something.

Q. Removable battery? Stylus? 3D user interface? Articulating frame keyboard? Voice text input? Built-in projector?

A. No, no, no, no, no, and no.

Q. Price?

A. 32 GB version, $649 +/- $50 USD.

Q. Release date?

A. March to June, probably April.

Q. Built in 3G?

A. Yes.

Q. Powerful?

A. More power than an iPhone 3GS but nowhere near as powerful as a Macbook or other full fledged computers.

Q. Thin?

A. Ridiculously thin. As thin as an iPod touch or thinner. It has the same order of processor as an iPod, but more battery life from the added volume to work with.

Q. Aluminum and glass construction?

A. Yes

Q. Moving parts? Like unfolding flap or slide-out keyboard?

A. No.

Q. Size?

A. 10-11″ screen. High res.

Q. Built-in camera?

A. Tough, tough question. After all, we’ve got cameras on our iPhones and cell phones, and other cameras. If there is one, it will be for iChat, so, front facing! I’d say yes…

Q. What will you be able to do with it?

A. Same kinds of things iPhone apps let you do, but on a larger screen. Meaning practically everything (eventually) except hardcore stuff like software development etc.

Q. Will this Tablet change the world?

A. Exagerations aside, it will be the first non-pocket computer for the masses that will be as easy to use as an iPhone. That says a lot.

If you liked this FAQ, please Digg it.

The Apple “Tablet” Lure

Why is Apple working on a Tablet or other device with a new form factor and 10″ screen, and why do we need one? Part of the answer has do to with the App Store. The rest is simply Apple doing what it does best: providing products with compelling user experiences.

Let me spell it all out. By the way, this entire blog post was written (and photo edited) on my iPhone, no desktop, laptop or netbook was involved or harmed.

So…

- Since the original Mac, and even long before, owners of personal computers could purchase or download software from whomever or wherever they wanted. Money would transfer from buyer to seller without involving the manufacturer of the computer or operating system. The cut for Apple or Microsoft was 0% on the world’s software transactions.

- June 2007, iPhone was released. The only way to get apps on it for most users (those that don’t jailbreak their device) was, and remains, to purchase them from the App Store. Even free apps must go through that channel.

- So far, Apple has sold upwards of 30 million iPhones, not to mention similar orders of iPod touches that also must use the App Store. Apple gets a 30% cut on ALL software transactions for iPhone / iPod software. That is already bringing in upwards of 100 million dollars a year for Apple at current rates.

- Thats a decent amount of money but…

- Wouldn’t it be amazing if Apple or another company could somehow pull off the same App Store stunt with Macs and/or PCs? Yes, but it would never be accepted by the existing user base. Both developers and users would cry blue murder at having that imposed on them all of a sudden. It would never pass in the Mac or PC worlds.

- How then did it pass for the iPhone? Simple: As a brand new platform, the choice was that you either accept the App Store, or take a hike, or jailbreak if you have the guts. Why would people accept the closed App Store system, both developers and users? Because the iPhone is a sufficiently advanced and attractive (and now popular) device that we just love it and to hell with the 30% and the App Store system, we gotta have it or develop for it.

- There are therefore hundreds of millions of PC and Mac users out there which do not transact through the App Store, leaving potentially billions of dollars on the table for Apple and Microsoft.

- So how can Apple, or anyone else, tap in and start the ball rolling to get their hands on 30% of some of the rest of the world’s software transactions?

- Simple: Introduce a new computer system that is sufficiently advanced and attractive that we just gotta have it. Force the App Store on it as the exclusive way to load apps, and slowly have it take more and more market share from desktop Macs and PCs.

- How can a new system be so much more attractive to the masses than a nice Macbook or cheap $300 netbook that does most everything you could want?

- Therein lies one answer: Today’s computers can do a lot. They have lots of ports (USB for any device, video, keyboards, mice, network ports, SD reader port, E-sata, power, and sometimes more). They have powerful processors, can run powerful software, they can be used for complex tasks like CAD, creating Hollywood films, developing software, real-time encoding, you name it. In short, they have great power, impressive flexibility, and are pretty complex to use, often making even power users sweat to get them working smoothly.

- What if a computer system was invented that did not need to do 100% of the things typical compters with powerful processors (even Netbooks) could do? What if it only did 80%, a fun and useful and entertaining 80%, such as casual games, productivity, social networking, etc. but nothing fancy like software development, full-fledged Photoshop, CAD, heavy word processing, you know — work stuff.

- What if, though not a do-it-all, it was really really easy to use, as easy as an iPhone. I know lots of people who have no trouble with iPhones but a Mac or PC would frustrate the hell out of them. I’m a computer veteran and often run into issues I can’t easily solve, that’s just wrong.

- What if, like the iPhone, users would never have to deal with “Files”, filesystems, Finder or Windows Explorer, backups, task manager, device manager, menu bars, windows, function keys, viruses and virus detectors, adware, etc, as long as they didn’t jailbreak (keyword: break) their device?

- What if the new system had only an audio out port and a power adaptor hole and that’s all? What if it used Bluetooth, 3G, WiFi N, abd maybe an iPod port, as it’s sole method of communicating to other devices? Hint: Not having a full size USB port means no expectation that you can plug random stuff in and it has to work.

- What if a new, modern paradigm, such as multi-touch, whose time in the spotlight has come, was used? What if the operating system and user interface were really designed for multi-touch, as well as ALL the apps for it? (This has never been done before, Windows 7 barely qualifies as touch-aware, and Surface is too specialized.)

- What if the computer required to run this new OS and UI and it’s apps only needed to be as powerul as an iPhone, but with a slightly better GPU to handle more pixels?

- Think about the volume (cubic inches, not decibels) of an iPhone. In it, there’s everything: CPU, GPU, battery, WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, GPS, camera, etc. Apply that volume to a Tablet or other portable form factor, say with a 10″ screen. That would make it PRETTY DARN THIN and light for a Tablet even with 3 times the battery.

- Important remark: That would be far thinner and lighter than anything else ever seen for the form factor.

- Add to that a touch-optimized user interface and core apps FULLY adapted for such a thin Tablet or other portable form factor, and presto, you have something that’s sufficiently advanced and attractive that we just gotta have it.

- And that’s where it starts… The era of this new form factor and overtaking of the hard-to-use desktop or laptop computer. And a 30% cut for Apple out of every app sold, instead of 0%.

- Many geeks the world over will say this new device is useless, weak, stupid, not good enough. They aren’t the target market. To them, everything’s doable. This Tablet or “thingy” is for the rest of us.

- Odi

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