Apple are already making TVs, with a tablet shaped remote

[Note from the future in 2024: LMAO I was so wrong. Read on for comedy.]

This is the secret innovation of the Apple Tablet, and it's integration with the iMac TV, and will explore the patents Apple have created to achieve this.

First, some background. We're all anticipating the release of the Apple Tablet. The necessity to succeed means Apple will have to push some kind of innovation which separates it from previous devices which haven't taken the tablet to the wider mainstream before.

Let's clear up the obvious reasons before we proceed; the iPhone's pioneering App Store crowd-sourced innovation from developers. We've seen a plethora of innovative applications, many of which we should have invested in ourselves before seeing someone else get a top five hit six months later. There were limitations, however - for me, music sequencing environments were an exciting prospect, but the limited screen-size made for fiddly navigation and frustration leads over creativity. A tablet will allow for everything from adaptable, intuitive and customisable MIDI/OSC interfaces, which could transform into a mixing desk or graphic EQ in an instant, to full blown sequencing environments (anyone else excited about an Ableton Live Go, perhaps?). Another has been FPS - some titles like Modern Combat: Sandstorm have worked, while the much hyped Eliminate fell way short of intuition.

Many have forecast the obvious ebook market for the Apple Tablet, improving the non-immersive iPhone 3.5inches (I point out the ebook store submissions to the App Store in another post). We're likely to see a paper-like screen at some point, easy on the eyes like a Kindle, but it will need colour to be adopted by Apple (Update: 3Qi Screen Technology Shipping in Time for Apple Tablet?)

Here's the big hook. The innovation I am expecting is that the tablet will be branded a supplementary device and controller for your iMac.

Apple will expect you to use your iMac as a television in your living room. A 27" screen release, above HD resolution, and glass right to the edge? With WiFi pouring out the Apple logo in the front? The fascia on the iMac is evolving to look right in the same room you keep a sofa and fireplace. Don't be surprised to see iMac screens up to 42" in the next two years.

But who wants their main computer in the living room? We've all seen it done since the earlier iterations of the iMac, usually with students whose bedroom doubles as their living room, iMac upon desk ready for regular web and work sessions. Yes, many people watch TV on iMacs already, but less often in a regular living room. It is and always will be unnatural to have a keyboard and mouse on the sofa, uncomfortably zooming in with ctrl and the scroll ball to see anything - and you wouldn't bother reading anything from more than 3ft away. And why spend on processing power if you're not going to focus and make the most of a system?

Here is Apple's solution:

The iMac, which will increase in size upon every release as of now, will be your main TV. You will have your tablet on your lap. The tablet will tap into your iMacs processing power (like your own cloud processing power). It will be a comprehensive remote control and TV guide, to sit on the side while you watch "I'm a Big Brother Celeb, come dine with me and get me out of here" - or if you are browsing the web/youtube, it will allow for reading at a regular distance of 1-2 feet.

Update: The thing that spurred me to get this post edited and online was a post on Mac Rumors which detailed a patent on using a non-specified touch device with a specific remote interface for common computer commands - after grabbing lots of patent links from their site, I notice this particular article has disappeared. This is very unusual for such a serious tech news blog, and quite curious.

Anyone else spot that news that Apple were building the biggest server farm ever out in the desert somewhere? While you are away from your computer, you will run any power of application you want with cloud processing power over 3G. The tablet is your computer - any of your computers - absolutely anywhere. If the app needs a keyboard, no problem - the iPhone keyboard along with it's intelligent spelling correction is already ideal, especially with larger buttons now it's off the iPhone, but if you can't lose any screen real estate, it's still no problem - they downsized their regular keyboards into backpack size in the last couple of years ready for that. Need a mouse? Shutup, no you don't. Apple have been pushing touch gestures all the way up to their current Magic Mouse iteration, and all this could be done on screen - but you're welcome to pack that mouse in your bag too. I expect the charging dock for the Apple Tablet to have your tablet prop up at a reasonable angle to do desktop work. At the very least some kind of third party stand will be released, but I'm pretty confident Apple will cover this angle (pun intended). (Update: Apple Patent Application Reveals Moldable Charging Dock for Media Devices)

While I'm at it, that new dock you saw feature in Leopard, with the depth of a shelf, suggests to me the tablet could feature a 3D tray, much like similar touch interfaces reported on over the last year (Update: Apple Working on 3D 'Hyper-Reality' Displays - watch the video demo at the bottom, spectacular!)

I think the tablet will run regular (but well featured) OS X - no one want's the iPhone page of logos upon logos on a larger device. The tablet will run existing iPhone apps, though many devs will likely choose to add an update purely to improve resolution of images and video. I also think the App Store will also be a market place for regular, full on OS X apps, which will (to a degree) kill off torrenting of indie products and tapping into that 30% of sales they're enjoying from iPhone sales .

Update: Apple aren't entirely relying on finger-touch recognition for the long term. For some users, handwriting recognition would be useful, so it's worth pointing out Apple's pen-based input recognition patent. And if you haven't heard of their haptic feedback patent, now is the time - imagine a screen which can slightly change shape in real-time, such as buttons that emboss as they appear. Exciting stuff.

Bit by bit, all of this will happen. If it doesn't, it should have.

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