Rumours about Apple’s next product have been swirling about like a London fog, obscuring more than it enlightens. But one thing the rumours have in common is that the new device will have a 10″ screen.
So what will it be? An oversized iPod Touch? That’s one take making the rounds. But who would want an iPod that big, even if it had a phone in it? The whole point of an iPod is portability and pocketability. I can’t see this one playing out, though I anticipate that whatever it is, it will have Touch technology built in.
Another rumour is that it will be a tablet-based eBook reader (with iPod Touch features of course). This is tantalizing. With California mandating the use of eBooks for high-school math and science courses, we could be on the verge of a change in how texbooks are used in education. Or not.
It could also be a competitor to the relatively successful Kindle 2 from Amazon. There’s an attraction to eBooks on a good reader. The Apple version would offer colour, but would it be as easy on the eyes as the Kindle?
Another rumour is that the new Apple will be a netbook based around iPod Touch technology. In this instantiation it would be a clamshell design, complete with keyboard. If I had my wish, this is the rumour I’d like to see come true, but doubt has been cast on this one. Insiders say that Jobs doesn’t want to make a Mac clamshell netbook, that it’s not forward looking.
I’ve seen one mockup (at top of this blog) that shows it as a tablet PC (iPod Touch style) with a big keyboard displayed on the tablet itself. Neat, technologically, but any writer can tell you that you can’t type on a virtual keyboard on a glass surface for long. It might be good for a few notes, or a quick email, but it’s not a serious alternative to a real keyboard.
So, what will it be? My fear is that Apple, meaning Jobs himself, will not want to clutter the lines of the new device with external connectors, and so far he has resisted putting in BlueTooth receivers for external hardware.
The bottom line for me is this: I’m a writer and need to use a device with a real keyboard. If Apple offers this device with an external keyboard, in a clamshell, or off to the side, I’m in. If the keyboard is virtual, and there’s no way of connecting an external keyboard, I’m out.
My Palm TX with Palm Bluetooth wireless folding keyboard has shown me how useful a portable writing device can be. This kind of functionality, combined with iPod Touch capabilities and software, would be a writer’s dream. Will the dream become reality?