Re: [NTLK] Speculation about some sort of Apple Touch sub notebook or sth

From: Riccardo Mori <>
Date: Wed Mar 11 2009 - 08:54:07 EDT

Ryan Vetter:

> This is just another "I wish Apple would release a tablet or
> netbook" thread, with a mock up as an example!

Yes, and I'll believe when I actually see an Apple tablet/netbook.

> I presume those challenges are screen issues (clear and durable...
> tradeoffs) and software issues. The more I have thought about the
> slider hybrid tablet/laptop in one of their patent applications,
> however, the more it makes sense. I think they are closer to
> releasing a hybrid tablet/laptop than ever, for a number of reasons.

In my opinion, another challenge is how to position such a product.
It's not going to be cheap. It must not get in the way of MacBook /
MacBook Pro sales. It must not get in the way of iPhone / iPod touch
sales. When the first MacBook and MacBook Pro unibody were introduced
last October, I found a bit strange that the white MacBook survived
the change in the portable line, and I predicted it's going to be a
placeholder for a possible new subnotebook. But still, pricing and
targeting this mythical subnotebook is not going to be that easy.

I'm still quite skeptical, however, as regards to a 'dockable' tablet/
subnotebook. The mockup in the original article, where you see the
tablet docking in the side of an iMac, is undoubtedly fascinating, but
unless Apple produces an external Dock (be it a standalone device or
an interface), I really wonder:

1. What about the other desktop Macs, the Mac Pro and the mini --
where do you dock the tablet? (Well, I guess the question
realistically applies to the iMacs as well).
2. What about those people who don't own a desktop Mac? Many people by
now use 15" and 17" Mac laptops as their primary machine. I for one
still use a PowerBook G4 12" as my main machine, connected to an
external 20" monitor.

> My guess is that they will probably release the hybrid tablet/laptop
> where Apple's applications go into tablet mode when the screen is
> slid into place. I used to think that they would release a special
> Tabletted OS X, but now, with all of the GUI enhancements I feel
> they will just use a uniform OS X, where applications like Safari,
> Email, etc. morph in such a way as they are optimized for touch
> input. Add accelerometers, and so forth, and the result is a beefed
> up iPhone that is also a laptop.

The Mac OS X interface is going to need a complete overhaul to fulfil
that purpose, in my opinion. In linking to a blog post by Charles Ying
[1], who claims that the new Safari 4 Beta interface is designed for
future multi-touch screens, John Gruber comments:

"Tappable targets on a touch screen need to be bigger and/or further
apart, because finger tips are large, whereas mouse pointers are very
precise. The tip of the arrow mouse pointer is precisely one pixel.
Apple’s iPhone UI guidelines suggest that a typical finger tip covers
about 40 pixels on the iPhone’s 163 pixel-per-inch display. So I would
say Safari 4’s tabs would be worse than Safari 3’s for touch screen
use, because clickable targets in the title/tab bar are packed closer
together. (For this same reason, the entire Mac OS X interface as a
whole is poorly suited to touch screen use — look at how close the
standard close/minimize/zoom buttons are.)" [2]

And I agree with his assessment.

> There is no question that these sorts of devices will be pervasive
> in the near future: tablet functionality adds mobility to laptops -
> laptops only take mobility so far. Using the Newton has been this
> sort of mobile liberation for me, and has provided me with the
> knowledge of how useful tablet computing is.

Another challenge for such devices is the interface for inputting
data. Christian (Lord Groundhog) has a point when he writes:

"Seriously, this 'Touch' as described in that article lacks an
adequate way
to enter data. Even if we ignore the other deficiencies the Ravenizer
thinks will be necessary in order to fit a version of OSX and blah-
blah into
it, it has to have a heavy-duty method of input that will allow a user
write letters, copy extended bodies of text into a file of notes, or
essays/reports/books, etc."

I am a happy iPhone user, and have no problems using the iPhone
virtual keyboard, but I can't type anything longer than a relatively
short email. That kind of keyboard is designed for a light, limited
use. I don't think the issues lies in its size. I don't think a bigger
virtual keyboard would improve the situation. Touch-typing with two
hands on a keyboard whose keys have all the same zero height is
difficult and straining. It lacks ergonomics; it lacks feedback. What
I'd love to see in such a device is a Newton-like handwriting
recognition on steroids and it's infuriating to see no further serious
development in this area. An efficient, fast, reliable HWR in
conjunction with the iPhone/iPod touch multi-touch interface would
contribute to the creation of a fantastic portable device with a
versatile interface.

I would use such a device all day for all kinds of things. But for
now, for how I work, a small laptop like my PowerBook G4 12" or a 13"
MacBook is still more comfortable for 99% of the tasks. For writing
essays and long letters/emails, I'm just faster and more comfortable
on a physical keyboard and using a trackpad as pointing device.


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[2] <>

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Received on Wed Mar 11 08:54:24 2009

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