iPad Next

Still waiting for the next iPad. Having used an iPad from its second year on I have decided that it really, really needs an update in the usage department.

What do I mean?
I really have tried to use my iPad to take notes and to do real work, I have a blue tooth keyboard but it requires a table for me to use and is one more item to carry.  Really one needs pen, audio as well as keyboard input, and to be honest I would like keyboard and mouse input because the damn screen is not as easy to interact with as a mouse for heavy writing/editing.

For note taking I worked with just a stylus with several note taker apps but the poor wrist rejection and poor accuracy of the stylus make the payoff poor given the effort it takes to use well.  I bought the Jot blue tooth stylus and its accuracy is absolutely abysmal and the ‘feel’ of the hard nib on glass just sucks.

My little Moleskin note-book is better than the iPad.  It would seem to me that one could create a very useful iPhone size note pad if the screen were a little draggy like pen on paper and the accuracy of the stylus was as good a pen on paper.

There has been commentary about tablet sales topping out, especially iPad sales.  I think that’s because a lot of people who thought they could use the iPad or equivalent as a more general computing tool have slid back to using it as a consumption device and that makes the cost of these high-end devices too high.

To pick up more users and re-energize those of us who have found ourselves slipping into a reader only mode the iPad needs to replace the note pad.  That means the useable surface needs to expand to something more like 8.5 x 11 and it needs to have a high accuracy high feel-quality stylus. Letting the Surface Pro 3 and the Galaxy Tab S go without a strong response will slide the iPad into a lesser position and let MS retain and perhaps expand its Business core. It could even kill the iPad Air sales entirely since for a pure reader the iPad mini is a better deal.

So I hope the rumour of a larger iPad is right and that it has the technology required for a high accuracy high  ‘feel-quality’ stylus.  Even better if they can do this on the iPad mini and iPhone I would expect them to be leading the pack again.

This is not to say that the non stylus start of the iPad was wrong or that the capacitive touch interface should fade.  You do not always have or want the stylus or pen, and learning the new touch interface was important but as the market matures and the users understand how they do and could use devices their wants/needs expand.  And as the Galaxy and the Surface demonstrate to some degree the stylus/pen is a needed adjunct.

One thought here, sapphire might be a very good material for the right type of ‘pen’ sensor, hard enough to allow one to use a metallic tip perhaps?

 

I gotta say it: The iPhamily refresh I want…

Have to say that the finger print sensor on the iPhone 5s is really a great idea and somewhat unobvious.   As always it was the quality of integration and superior tech selection that gave it the Apple imprimatur.20130911-121516.jpgNow we have a projected 4.5 – 4. 9 in iPhone 6 and possibly an iPhone max at 6 in, and iPad max (Pro?) at 12.9 in.  This is the Samsung version of innovation not Apples.

One of the things about the Apple sparked smartphone race is the well noted but sometimes missed integration of an absolutely crazy (by standards of 6 years ago) set of sensors in every unit.  The iPhone and its genetic descendants are sensor rich platforms that software, skins and blivets modify for an uncountable number of applications.

Apple has identified a key (and missed it with the 5c) people want ease of use, ruggedness, power and flexibility so they can personalize their technological jewel and use it to enhance their life.

SO?

Follow the logic:  Make it more general purpose, more flexibile, more rugged, more capable, easier to skin, easier to add plivets to, while staying bullet proof.

Sizes:   I would think about the iPhone/pad Family:  4″, 4.5″, 6″, 7.9″, 9.8″ and 12.8

Screen size:  I think apple needs to push the screen to the edge and around the edges of the frame [on the smaller models] at least on one side, to enable side scan and programmable side switches.

Physical buttons: Minimize, three in total all programmable though one will need a hard wired on/off/reset function.

Physical buttons, the center finger print sensor [an iconic item that got its start with the iPod. ] :  Bury it under the face and make it part of the functional screen, or make a cutout in the screen for it   [that would be a real game changer style wise and make the tech maximalists scream bloody murder. [Do it for the front camera and speakers and some would go up in spontaneous fireballs.]

Radio:  Every unit should have WiFi and Phone / Data functionality built in.  Work with the pipe suppliers to get them to do what they should want to do, enable the use of Phone/Data flexibly so people get hooked.

Protection:  The smaller units should have a sapphire screen to add even more ruggedness.

Cameras:  Apple, keep up the good work, quality over quantity and work with the guys who want to add specialist lenses to provide more and more camera functionality. The two cameras in the iPhone are key, critical tools in its bag.  I love photos, love cameras but they are doomed to become a relatively rare specialist device.

Speakers: Need to be better, stereo, along with stereo microphones to add acoustic sensing to the repertoire.  Maybe one should put the speakers on the face?

Inductive charging: not in already, really?  Understood its bulky but its needed for the next level of rugged etc.

Waterproof….ehe…the question is how to do the speaker connection (assuming inductive charging) I think one can make the connector waterproof and I don’t think its a problem unless you get salt water in it, in which case some kind of sensor to make sure its not leaking current. [I think that the audio jack is going to last a lot longer than maybe it should.  But I will hope Blue Tooth makes cable-less headphones the standard in 5 years or less.]

Oh well, guess I will wait to see where Apple goes, I hope they see their premier post PC tool the way I do.  Maybe they have even better ideas, we can always hope.

iPad next?

The iPad is the premier tablet and it’s probably nearly the perfect size and weight for its form factor.  That’s not to say that within the form factor there is no room for improvement. A screen that takes up most of the face should be a near term target, as should an auxiliary screen on the back face that provides bright light reading and low power / speed interactivity for those who don’t live indoors all the time.  To support the iPad as a companion device, multi level security is a growing need.

Make the bezel the same on the iPad as minimal as possible (get rid of the push button) push the screen out to the edge, don’t change the shell size. This with continued pixel densification will put the screen on another level altogether.  Make thumb and palm detection native and intelligent enough to enable me to rest my palm on the screen and write with a stylus as if the screen were regular paper.

Put an eInk reader panel on the back to enable the display of text and graphic art, this will enable high light low power reading applications and some other limited visual bandwidth applications such as phone etc. (This will be accomplished with a smart cover but it would be cool if it were integral with the iPad.)

The radio suite & battery life along with the camera, face time, GPS, and other built in sensors are probably good enough not to call for increases in size weight, but neither should they be decremented.

The iPad is far to big a part of many people’s eLives to leave to the pitiful protection it has today.  We need multi level security, enable me to turn the iPad on as if there is no security for consuming web pages, playing games, and using certain apps.  But for other functions use face recognition, symbolic coding other than a number pad, voice recognition, retina image recognition and even finger print recognition in combination to protect various levels of data in the unit.

Enable cyber security with one or more over watch processors that is not linked to the outside world for some level of checking to make sure that the tablet has not been compromised.   A version of this ‘chip’ may be linked to a secure remote system (short-range) so businesses or organizations can disable certain functions of the iPad remotely to make sure that pictures, audio, or other data cannot be put into memory without authorization.  This Big Brother functionality is a bit daunting but at least the over watch processor is probably going to be needed.  The full BB may be an external attachment and not integral so one can shed it easily….

The Apple Machine

I think there is some weariness in regards to apple product intros these days, I sense that the press (in general { there have been folks who’ve kind’a felt this way for a while}) is actually beginning to feel a bit used by Apple (and they are probably right though they only have themselves to blame.)  I feel the same way though I totally blame the press for not having the guts, smarts and knowledge to branch out more generally into tech reporting, there are vast areas of technology that are poorly covered and even ignored because they are boring old tech.  Much of this old tech is boring because no one reports on it and promotes it like Apple promotes their products…making it easy for the press to hang on like lampreys.

Apple uses the press as an advertising amplifier, its one of the things that the other tech companies have either lost or never had the ability to do.  It costs a lot to be a showman but it pays back, however its probably impossibly hard to quantify the cost or the payback to a financial guy before you go and do it.  Jobs knew what he was doing and how to do it in his bones, and inculcated it in the bones of his legacy but the MBA’s hate anything that is not quantifiable…this aborts new ‘Apples.’  But even at Apple, without Jobs, there is a good chance that the MBA’s will chip away at the Apple marketing/sales/advertising/etc machine in the name of profits and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Apple’s iPad mini, its a steal…

There are arguments that Apples pricing power is limited and that the cost of making a premium small pad like the mini is something like 200 meaning that they break even at somewhere between 250 and 300 considering distribution and profit.  There were arguments for a 250ish (essentially subsidized) and 300ish (bare profit.)  Whereas the base 330 (ok 329 but don’t get me started on the last 9 pricing phenomenon!!) supposedly provides Apple with its traditional high profit margin.

Now this seems to beg the question how do these folks really know Apples costs?  Yes its a public company but to be honest there are a lot of details hidden in the financials that are really hard to parse. Apple is highly profitable but it also has very high costs relative to its competitors who are either one shot wonders or whose HW / OS work is subsidized by a primary line business which the machine; Google-Nexus tab, Amazon-Kindle, Barnes&Noble-Nook, are important marketing&sales outlets, not fundamental products as products…as much as some chattering set blowhards try to conflate the business models.

The iPad mini is something of a steal, if 200 is the cost of a good 7 in screened plastic housed small pad .  Why do I say this?:

  1. The above machine might have a higher resolution…but to be honest resolution is not the end of the matter, it enhances a screen, makes a small screen look better,  ut it does not solve the problem that you have to hold a smaller screen closer or display less info to make it readable at all.  And when you are a mature adult the eyes are not so good no more…so a 7.9 screen 40% greater area with the same resolution is (probably) a better deal.  And now one has to light up 40% more area so the battery has to have a bit more capacity, etc.
  2. The system has all the sensors including the reasonably good front and backside cameras of the bigger brother, which none of the smaller competitors match.
  3. It also offers a decent processor chip that has proven its chops on other machines making it a smooth and reliable operator
  4. It’s almost as light and compact as some of its smaller rivals because Apple traded bezel for screen to make it ‘handable’ and thus much more of a reading machine in competition with the near pure readers.
  5. It has universally praised design and build standard and remarkable ruggedness (that’s a projection obviously.)
  6. It has the AppStore infrastructure &
  7. It seamlessly integrates with all the other iGizmos from Apple (of which my family has many.)
  8. It’s a good size and capability set for children with their smaller fingers, lower strength, sharper eyes, etc.
  9. At 329 its a better deal for the K-12 educational market and oh by the way its big brother and the rest offer a grown up infrastructure for teachers.

I’m certainly going to buy one and it won’t be a low-end unit, though I will also in the near future buy one of the new-new-iPads, with the understanding that its possible if not likely that Apple will upgrade the product again in 6 months.

Why is Apple doing this? It wants to dominate the space in most people’s minds like it dominates the smart phone, standard tablet, one piece desktop, and ultra-portable markets. It has moved sharply into these markets (which were not at the time particularly active) and dominated with yearly product refreshes of significance reinforced with a masterful media circus strategy.  They are late to the game in the small pad market having at first seen it as a value only market, they stayed out till they figured out how to roll it up into the Apple iOs business, which I think they have as explained above.

New Post 1 iPad First

iPad Mini Breakout ideas that seem really unlikely:

  1. It should have 2 (two) screens, one on the back in e-ink for pure reading and the regular one of the front for all the other things one does with an iPad. The reading screen should be able to run when the front screen and the radios are all shut down due to low battery power.
  2. It should have the same screen ratio as the iPhone 5 making it newer and svelte. 

Two worst decisions the new management could have made:

  1. offer the Mini as a Touch Maxi, i.e. without 4G
  2. cheapen it by taking out bluetooth or the higher memory options

What I expect:

  1. iPad 2 resolution machine with retina pixel size.
  2. iPad 2 cpu and gpu maybe a bit better
  3. Light with narrower side bezel, making it look like a large iPod Touch
  4. A very inexpensive basic unit but a pretty much fully rigged top end model that will offer compact footprint as competition
  5. iPhone 4 level camera on the back or better (Apple has realized that they have the point and shoot market at this point.)
  6. iPad 2 will be phased out