Why have tablets failed thus far?
Thing about tablets is that they’ve never been great. The reason for this being that virtually all of these tablets are built on desktop/laptop software or mobile phone software. Microsoft has made moves to include programs that try to make the UI more suitable for tablet PCs, that’s not enough. A lot of manufactures also loaded their tablets with mobile phone operating systems ranging from Windows CE to Android. This is where they all failed and continue to fail. Desktops and laptops are built around the premise that there is a keyboard and mouse. In order to make a tablet that works, the OS has to be built from the ground up with tablets in mind. Everything about the UI for a tablet computer has to be for a tablet computer for it to work. There should be a radical difference between how people use a tablet, a laptop and a mobile phone.(update: It’s Official)
A tablet is in between a mobile phone and a laptop. It’s about as different from a mobile phone and a laptop as they are from each other, if not even more. A tablet, unlike a laptop or mobile phone shares the same form factor with something we’ve been around since the beginning of time. A sheet of paper. The dimensions of a tablet computer are also similar to a typical writing pad or magazine. This fact has implications, writing with a stylus for input; that’s how it’s always been done on this form factor and finger input for other interactions.
What the iSlate needs to have
Handwriting recognition has come a long way and I don’t see this being a problem for Apple. My experience with my 2 year old iPaq 210 has shown me just how far this technology has gone with it’s flawless handwriting recognition. The UI used on the iPhone is beautifully crafted for finger use. Swiping, pinching, zooming, panning, crunching and more touch/multi-touch gestures would work better on a bigger display. The soft keyboard can not go unnoticed though. Input via some virtual keyboard is a must. Again, this must be optimized for use on a tablet. Rumor has it that the display will feature a tactile-feedback screen. I’m not quite sure how Apple will pull that off, but setting standards and risk taking is nothing new for the company.
Above all, support is key. If partners like NYT, Time and other media powerhouses get on board, you’ve already got something that has never been seen or experienced before, something people actually want.