The rumors are flying fast and furious on the eve of Apple's introduction to its "latest creation". And I don't care about them. I'd rather opine what I'd like to see from the iTablet/iSlate/iPad/iInsertNameHere. Here's my wishlist.
A Physical Keyboard Dock
If Apple is going to charge $800 to $1,000 for a slate, I'd like to use it as a real computer when I'm not surfing the Web on the sofa, or using the tablet as an eReader or portable media player. There’s also a lot of debate over just how good of a typing experience Apple (or anyone) can offer on a 10-inch screen; reaching across the display to keys in the middle of the layout would be awkward. Swype has done a nice job addressing this issue with its one-handed typing technology, where you draw a line from one letter to the next. (It's available on Samsung’s Omnia II smart phone). I wouldn't mind if Apple takes this kind of approach with its tablet, but nothing beats a physical keyboard.
Given that the Apple Tablet will likely focus on multimedia, it would be nice if the device had a built-in HDMI port. Many of the Nvidia Tegra-powered tablets I saw at CES had this feature. And it makes perfect sense that users would want to output movies and TV shows to a larger screen when they don't have an Apple TV, DVR, Roku box, or some other set-top that delivers premium video. Until now, Apple has eschewed HDMI in favor of DisplayPort, but the former is much more prevalent.
Full Flash Support
If the Apple Tablet winds up running a variant of the iPhone OS, there is absolutely no guarantee that you'll be able to enjoy Flash-powered sites (such as Hulu) on its big screen. I hope iPhone OS 4.0, also expected to be introduced at the launch event next week, will change that, because consumers want to enjoy free online content, games, and premium iTunes videos and apps. Meanwhile, Flash is coming to Palm's webOS next month, and to Android tablets and smart phones sometime this year, so Apple will be under some pressure to deliver similar functionality.
According to a story published today by The Wall Street Journal, Apple has experimented with the ability to leave sticky notes for other family members on the Tablet. While I'm sure it's certainly possible to use a finger to scribble these things out, I'd prefer a sturdier pen, even if it's an optional accessory. A stylus would also allow creative pros to draw and paint, as well as touch up photos. And although the Apple Tablet won't be marketed toward mobile professionals, I'm sure they’d appreciate using the device to take notes in meetings and then have those notes sync up with the cloud.
A Subscription That Covers Everything
One of the other rumors reported today in the WSJ (okay, so I do care about the rumors) is that Apple is negotiating with the parent companies of ABC and CBS to deliver a monthly TV subscription. The idea is to give Apple Tablet owners on-demand access to a "best of TV" service from a bundle of TV networks. Personally, I prefer the rumor that Apple is preparing to offer a $30-per-month subscription service that covers movies and TV shows. In fact, I'd much rather be able to enjoy a selection of books, magazines, movies, music, and TV for a single fee. The last thing I want from a single device with this many functions is multiple bills.
Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP's online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark's SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on twitter.