What if the Apple Tablet is a Mac?

By  |  Monday, August 17, 2009 at 2:18 am

Over the weekend, a French blog published new “photos” of Apple’s “upcoming” tablet. They looks fishy and pseudo-Appleish at best (and if the tablet isn’t coming until next year, which is now the consensus among the smartest Applewatchers I know, they’re here awfully early). I bring this up here mainly because the image seems to show the device booting into the welcome screen you see when you start a Mac for the first time. In other words, it appears to show…a Mac. Not an oversized iPod Touch.

Until now, almost everyone who’s either reported the tablet as fact or riffed on it as a possibility has assumed it will run the iPhone OS. And that still seems like by far the most likely scenario, since that version of Apple’s OS is optimized for devices that do have touch and don’t have a physical keyboard. But who knows? It’s not unthinkable that Apple might release a Mac tablet, even though it would require the addition of all sorts of touch functionality. If nothing else, OS X already assumes the presence of a high-resolution screen and supports thousands of resolution-independent applications. Unlike the iPhone OS.

Even though a touch-screen Mac would be very different from the pen-based Windows Tablet PC platform that never caught on, it would have one thing in common: the challenge of providing tolerable alphanumeric input without a real keyboard. I’d be surprised and impressed if Apple were to figure that one out.

Oddly enough, I asked Steve Jobs about the possibility of touch-screen Macs myself–on behalf of a Technologizer reader–at last October’s MacBook event, the last Apple product launch that Jobs has presided over to date. And…he didn’t rule the idea out. He just said that Apple had experimented with it and failed to come up with anything pleasing. Which is what he says about any idea up until the day that Apple announces a product based upon it.

Anyhow, here’s the “photo.”

Apple Tablet

 
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12 Comments For This Post

  1. HD Boy Says:

    To stay true to their new found virtualization roots, I think Apple will deliver a hybrid tablet. It will run the iPhone OS in tablet boot mode or the Mac OS when a keyboard is attached. Current Macs can run OS X, Windows or Linux. This is a no-brainer.

  2. Simon Says:

    I’d be shocked if it’s either Mac OS X or iPhone OS. It ought to have more in common with the iPhone, given the touchscreen, but it will be a third platform to all intents and purposes.

    Every prediction I ever make is wrong, though.

  3. Relyt Says:

    I think that an oversized Touch makes no sense, since it could do everything the Touch can, but comes in a form factor not as good or easy to use. Also, all the apps are optimized for the smaller screen (smaller resolution).

  4. tom b Says:

    “Under the hood”, of course, iPhone OS and Mac OS are almost the same. The UI in a tablet would need to gracefully accomplish things you would not want to do on a mobile device, like run many apps at once.

  5. beattz Says:

    Lately I have wondered this same thing myself:
    http://twitter.com/beattz/statuses/3323072504

    Apple recently promoted its 13″ laptop from MacBook to MacBook Pro status, meaning the current MacBook offering consists of a single white plastic model based on old designs. Surely this gaping hole in their consumer oriented line-up is a perfect home for this new tablet?

    Furthermore, the imminent update to OS X, Snow Leopard, focuses on improving stability, leading me to believe their team of user interface designers have probably had plenty of opportunity to work on a version of OS X that is touch-screen friendly.

    This said, I still believe that iPhone features such as the app store and simplicity of interaction are far too compelling to be ignored when considering what Apple may produce.

  6. Olternaut Says:

    Does anyone really think that this mockup is real?

  7. gymkit Says:

    I think it will be Mac OS with an app that allows you to run iPhone apps. You can currently do this with the iPhone developer version so why not make it into a Mac app and get the best of both worlds!

    This would extend their App store to the Mac platform and allow for mobile touch to come to Snow Leopard.

  8. DocB Says:

    A tablet running Leopard OSX makes more sense to me than a tablet running iPhone OS. The low end gap I think is spot on. Could a touch interface be hooked in to OSX? I think it very likely. Bluetooth on board – Apple already has a small Bluetooth keyboard all set to go. n wireless on board + screen sharing you’ve got a remote interface to your desktop Mac to run whatever you need. Throw in a 3G wireless data plan (Verizon?) and you have a Kindle-like situation ready to be exploited. Not to mention onboard camera for vid and stills. I think Apple will go for the broadest appeal with device. Therefore OSX.

    As to the pictures. All I can say is very un-Apple in design. Too thick. Too gray. Too blah overall. Maybe a one-off test bed but not any where near a final product.

  9. TeX Says:

    Mac OS X inside and video-out port on a 300 to 600 g small device tablet. That is all needed for success. The iPod touch is too limited with its crippled OS inside.

    The MacBook Air is too heavy and large, besides being port-limited.

    Or bring a MacBook Air mini at 1/4 the MacBook Air size, no more than 600 g and with real independent ports: video-out, Ethernet, Firewire, USB2, SD card.

    Or bring them all: iPod TABLET, Mac TABLET and MacBook TABLET. This is certainly the best approach, for anyone to get any of them.

  10. Tkdblk Says:

    “Or bring them all: iPod TABLET, Mac TABLET and MacBook TABLET. This is certainly the best approach, for anyone to get any of them.”

    Yes, because it really is all one operating system. Something which the Windows oriented media really doesn’t get. They seem to think everything will be done the way the Windows world is: a collection of hardware store bits bolted, wired and duct taped together.

    So it is really a silly question. What I want out of a tablet, really a deal breaker for me is some workable form of handwriting recognition. That is the main purpose for a tablet, and one I would use every day. I used the last version of Apple handwriting recognition and it was very good. For that matter, I have used the Windows mobile version, and it also worked well for me. And I have bad hand-writing. Go figure.

  11. steve Says:

    Amazing! Apple Mac Book has already been very popular and now this technology is certainly going to rock the world.This is not only hi-tech but it is looking beautiful.

    There are more features and articles on here:

    http://www.touchuserguide.com

  12. Peter Says:

    Hopefully they will come out with their own tablet mac soon. I literally am on the verge of buying a mac or pc tablet when I get funds to do so, the user base for multimedia applications seems to be a big contributor to the user base of the mac, it would be a bad marketing move not to try to create an actual macbook tablet.

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