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The Apple Tablet Interface Must Be Like This

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

GUI 278

kylevh writes "On one side, there are the people who think that a traditional GUI—one built on windows, folders and the old desktop metaphor—is the only way to go for a tablet. In another camp, there are the ones who are dreaming about magic 3D interfaces and other experimental stuff, thinking that Apple would come up with a wondrous new interface that nobody can imagine now, one that will bring universal love, world peace and pancakes for everyone. Both camps are wrong: The iPhone started a UI revolution, and the tablet is just step two. Here's why." There are lots of cool UI ideas in there, even if it is entirely speculation. It's worth a read just to think about what the future could be like.

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This is how it will all play out (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30848846)


cloud UI (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848848)

for the vapourware age

Re:cloud UI (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30848866)

Fucking apple nigger fags.

Re:cloud UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849066)

pen1s envy much ?

Re:cloud UI (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849286)

yeah, the apple hype on this is disgusting. I'll wait until something is actually out and solid instead of a deliberate leak designed to get people interested. There's actually nothing substantive in the article or the summary.

Re:cloud UI (-1, Flamebait)

badasscat (563442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849892)

Not to mention, what "UI revolution" did the iPhone start? Having a bunch of icons on a page? This is basically Windows 1.0.

I can't wait to see the Apple tablet introduce the concept of multitasking, and everybody will talk about how it revolutionizes the way we run apps.

Is there a market or hidden demand for tablets? (0, Troll)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848862)

I think for a tablet with detachable keyboard there might be, like this one from Always Innovating:
http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20090302/AI-front_610x405.png [cnet.com]

but I don't see one just for a tablet.... the form factor always seems like one of those "neat-o" ideas until you actually try to make use of it.

briefcase-size versus booksize versus cellphone (3, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849072)

The "briefcase" size is the maximum transportable computer size with the most comfortable size screen, keyboard; largest battery, memories, peripherals.
The booksize computer is the smallest screen that gives you decent megapixel. So much software and webpages runs out-of-the-box for the megapixel screen and not on the one-eighth siblings- the smartphones. The book size easily fits into a daypack or handbag.

eBook++ (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849096)

The way I see it tablet:eBook as smartphone:cell phone.

I have been looking more and more into getting an eBook reader for various reasons. The low power consumption and reflective display puts them into a completely different class of devices than laptops or notebooks in my opinion. But then the feature-creep ideas start coming. It would be really nice to be able to take notes on it as well, and keep a calendar, and browse the web, and view maps, etc. An eBook reader that had good touch screen support, and an open development environment would push me from "thinking about it" to "gotta have it". That is why the Nook and and other recent tablet designs that are more inspired by eBook/netbooks have really been catching my eye.

Re:Is there a market or hidden demand for tablets? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849676)

The average Slashdot reader probably owns about 50 paperback books. It sure is a neat for factor, isn't it?

The thing is that nobody has ever made a half-decent paperback-sized tablet. Odds are that it will sell.

I agree with TFA that the iPhone OS is the best choice of OS for Apple. Not because it is the best possible OS for a tablet, but because it is a great OS that people like. It has an interface that keeps people buying apps and songs and whatnot (books seem like a good thing for a table). It has an interface that keeps them from developing their own software and thus keeps them from hacking and "stealing" so-called "intellectual property"...

Or so it would seem. Good luck with that in the long run. :-)

Re:Is there a market or hidden demand for tablets? (4, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849826)

If the digital handwriting problem could be solved, there would be demand for a tablet. Taking notes is something that computers still don't do particularly well. You can get by, sure, and there are some applications which aid in that, but it's not quite the same as being able to easily sketch or make simple diagrams by hand and integrate those with text.

The other main use for a tablet form factor is for consumption of media. Touchscreens will probably not be as good as typing for quite a long time, if ever. But if you don't need to type much, then it can be fine. Watching movies and reading books would work with a tablet. The main problem, of course, is cost. When you can buy a laptop that also does those things, why in the world would you bother with paying more money to get a tablet? What do you gain, other than perhaps something which is lighter weight?

The world is paved with astroturf (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30848864)

I get that the idea of an Apple tablet is intriguing, but is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? I mean, there's speculation about it showing up on gaming blogs. Lots of these articles are genuine, but I'm starting to smell a little astroturf too.

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849026)

It's hip to be hip.

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849330)

I get that the idea of an Apple tablet is intriguing, but is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? I mean, there's speculation about it showing up on gaming blogs. Lots of these articles are genuine, but I'm starting to smell a little astroturf too.

It's the biggest story in personal electronics for the next 6 days. After the iPod and the iPhone, Apple coming out with a new product is a major deal - particularly in how it influences the already existing markets of, respectively, music players, smartphones, and tablets.

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849418)

"is it worth all the stories popping up in the tech world? "

Thank you!

Actually I'll take it a step forward: shut-up already! Tell me when it comes out and give me a full review with a components breakdown. I'm so incredibly tired of every tech site I go to running a article every day with potential design mock-ups, hypothetical processor specs, and emerging screen technologies that might appear in the new not-formally-announced Apple tablet. I've been reading Apple Tablet stories on slashdot for five years [slashdot.org] , and frankly I'm tired of hearing about it.

This thing has more hype than Duke Nukem Forever and half the credibility, at least Duek Nukem Forever had confirmed release dates [kotaku.com] .

So what about it /., am I still going to be reading Apple Tablet might-have stories on /. in 2015, or can we finally stop beating this very dead horse and bury it until it's really released?

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (3, Interesting)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849464)

It might be genuine people writing genuine articles, but it's still fed from the strategic "leaks" put out by Apple, with the purpose of generating hype. So the genuine people writing their genuine articles are actually Apple's PR strategy for getting people to talk about this without them having to make an official announcement. Of course, when they actually do make the announcement the hype will be so much that the free media coverage Apple will get out of it will be worth more than they would have ever wanted to spend on a pre-promo campaign for it.

So yeah, the articles are genuine, and it's also astroturfing, even if the authors don't realize they're astroturfing. Apple speculation is ridiculous and useless. It doesn't matter what the speculation is, we'll all found out exactly what Apple plans to do, exactly when Apple wants us to find that out, and it will have all of the features that it would have had if no one had been speculating.

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849554)

Amen. This site should seriously consider taking a break from being steve jobs's bitch.

Re:The world is paved with astroturf (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849660)

I wouldn't call it astroturfing-- not exactly. These things are fed by Apple's leaks, and it's fairly intentional on Apple's part. It was reported that Apple knew one of their competitors was going to release a tablet (Microsoft?) and leaked information about their own tablet to steal the news cycle.

However, Apple doesn't really need to feed these things. Apple fans do it to themselves to some extent. Even back in the 90s when Apple was falling apart, Mac fans were tracking the company's progress closely and freaking out about every possible move. Also, there are various business interests involved. News sites want views. There was a video a while back where Jim Cramer talked about starting fake Apple rumors to manipulate stock prices, and surely that sort of stuff plays into all this. They're maniacs.

There's also (sorry, but it needs to be acknowledged) a valid component to Apple hype. Apple is an innovative company, they release cool products, and they drive technology trends. You might not think they're *that* innovative, but compared to companies like Dell and HP, they really are.

Files (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848872)

It is okay for files to go away, right up until the point that I notice I can't access some data because it is stuck in some app.

And I don't mean that files should never go away, I just mean that each time I notice it, I get confirmation that they aren't done making whatever it was that they changed work correctly yet.

new? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848878)

...here are the ones who are dreaming about magic 3D interfaces and other experimental stuff, thinking that Apple would come up with a wondrous new interface...

Been there, done that [wikipedia.org]

Re:new? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849068)

So, in your opinion, the boundaries of 3D User Interfaces have been fully explored, no innovation is possible, and designers should stick to 2D graphics, or better yet, green screens?

In short: (4, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849160)


At the very least, forcing users to learn something new can hardly be considered a usability improvement. Trying to represent files on a computer in anything more than two dimensions is always going to fail because it messes up the presentation to information ratio.

3D file managers are like powerpoint presentations with lots of animations and noises. The concept sounds really cool, until you actually realize that you are not adding information, but rather distracting from it.

Re:In short: (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849788)

At the very least, forcing users to learn something new can hardly be considered a usability improvement.

That assumes that users really need to learn things. The best UIs are often those that match intuitively with our preexisting intuitions about the world. It's not quite that simple, but I definitely think a good UI designer can exploit a lot of our natural understanding of time and space and simple mechanics to make an interface that requires very little learning.

3D file managers are like powerpoint presentations with lots of animations and noises.

I generally agree with this, though. There are 3D elements that are useful (e.g. visual cues like drop shadows that give you a sense of depth between windows that are stacked above each other), but generally the attempts I've seen to make 3D GUIs haven't worked very well.

Re:new? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849208)

So, in your opinion, the boundaries of 3D User Interfaces have been fully explored, no innovation is possible, and designers should stick to 2D graphics, or better yet, green screens?

Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Comeon -- you're asking a loaded question. Revolutionary design is about creating something that didn't exist before. Apple doesn't do that -- Apple takes existing ideas, repackages them, and then calls them new. That isn't to say that's not a useful or marketable service, but calling what the vast majority of Apple does "revolutionary" is a stretch. It's like "paradigm shift" -- everybody loved that phrase five years ago because it sounded progressive, edgy, etc.

My point stands: Just because Apple's doing it doesn't make it new.

Re:new? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849444)

If that was your point, it isn't even coherent, the article is about Apple using a modal iPhone like interface on the tablet, not about Apple using a 3d interface.

Re:new? (2, Insightful)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849596)

It's not that 3d user interfaces have been fully explored, but that simulated 3d interfaces on 2d desktops have some fundamental limitations. We already have some amount of simulated pseudo-depth: windows can lie on top of other windows, etc.

The problem is that by the time you get around to interacting with something, you're interacting with a 2d euclidean plane which presents a projection of some 3d model. It doesn't make the plane 3d. You can't reach around and touch the "middle" of an 3d object projected onto a 2d plane. That's a problem. These might be somewhat ameliorated by true 3d interfaces (where the display itself is 3d), but that tech has yet to mature.

If you think about it, even the way we work on our typical desk is mostly 2d, from a topological perspective. I have a pile of papers and some random crap lying around my desk. When I go to grab a document to work on, I don't just reach into the middle of a stack and pull out the right one. I don't have that capability. I need to go and start flipping pages, basically morphing my 2d topology to reveal some object hidden in 3d, and only then interact with it.

That's not to say that all 3d effects and stuff are useless. Simulated 3d is a great way of providing visual cues that we have been training ourselves on since we opened our eyes. That can be a very important aspect of intuitive interfaces.. but fundamentally it acts as a visual highlight. The goodness or badness of any particular 3d interface depends entirely on how effectively the _2d_ projection is.

Thirdly, "true" 3d is actually too limiting. We are forced to live in a 3d world, but our computers give us access to many more dimensions, weirder dimensions, than that. We can provide 2d projections of abstract non-fixed-dimensional objects, like n-ary trees (e.g. filesystems). An example of a projection of that abstract object to a 2d interface would be spotlight. It provides a 2d textbox which behaves in strange and weird ways - a 2d textbox that projects 2d manipulations (type some characters), into an arbitrary traversal of the tree. Compare the utility of that to the utility of a "true" 3d rendered filesystem. What value would that add? Sure, it would look neat, but what extra thing would you gain from it?

There's nothing magic about 3d. Computers operate above and beyond limitations of 3 dimensions, and are currently constrained to expose their behaviour through primarily 2d interfaces. Simulating 3d on top of 2d user interfaces, aside from the "visual cue" aspect, is kind of an arbitrary choice.. not necessarily the best one.


Why 3D interfaces will never work (2, Informative)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849140)

Humans see in 2 dimensions, we can infer 3D data from various signals I will not go into in this post. When you are viewing something in a 2 dimensional plane, you can see the entirety of the plane at once. When looking in 3-space, you can only see a projection of that space onto a 2 dimensional plane. You will never be able to simply understand everything in that space at one point, which is why they aren't popular. They are difficult to use, and are only useful for gimmicks.

Re:new? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849608)

I think the '3D interfaces' comment was referring to the concept of hand/finger position detection. That is, 3D INPUT interfaces, not DISPLAY interfaces. You're probably right about the 3D GUI, but 3D input systems have not really been explored too much as far as I know.

yawn (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30848888)

i hereby nominate apple speculation as the most boring internet subculture

Re:yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30848990)

If I woke up I would agree with you.

Re:yawn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849092)

i hereby nominate apple speculation as the most boring internet subculture

Wow! Duke Nukem Forever must really be dead .......

You said you'd never forget. (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849344)

vi v. emacs
or even
vi v. vim

Prepare to eat your words, sir. 80 columns at a time.

Re:yawn (0, Troll)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849484)

> i hereby nominate apple speculation as the most boring internet subculture

With "complaining in forums about what other people enjoy" a close second.

Seriously--for the hojillionth time, if you don't care about it, don't read it! And FFS, if you don't like it, it boggles my mind why you would take time out of your day to let the world know. OF COURSE you're bored--you've evidently got too much free time and nothing worthwhile to fill it. Might I suggest sitting on a curb and tossing pebbles into a storm drain?

Re:yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849862)

who is trollier? the troll or the troll who trolls the troll?

relax, man

Re:yawn (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849760)

Really? I actually find it fairly hilarious, mainly because despite all the noise, nobody has really answered in any compelling way what I am supposed to want one of these for. If you think about your average Apple fanboy (I like their stuff, but don't count myself in that category), they likely already have:
-Mac laptop (macbook, macbook pro, etc)
-Mac desktop (iMac, etc)

Ok, so 2 and 3 might not be the rule, but still - what computing niche does this table fill that isn't already covered? The best I've heard so far is sitting on the couch/laying in bed. Seriously. People are justifying buying this hypothetical device because it might be more comfortable to use in bed or on the couch (not really sure how a laptop isn't better when sitting, though). I'm not sure how you can do anything but laugh at this (and maybe buy Apple stock).

Missed a story? (3, Insightful)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848914)

Oh, huh, I must have missed the announcement that the Apple tablet wasn't just a rumor but actually a real thing. Odd, normally I'm on top of things like that. Oh well.

WSJ (2, Informative)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849200)

Once the Wall Street Journal starts publishing details, you know that they are using a purposeful leak. They wouldn't put their reputation on a rumor, and Apple has to keep their secretive product development intact to preserve their brand identity.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703405704575015362653644260.html [wsj.com]

Re:WSJ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849356)

WSJ. Reputation. Rumour. Hahahah. Hahaha. Where were you when they were reporting on Iraq?

Re:WSJ (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849818)

The WSJ spreads rumors about Iraq to protect it's interests. The WSJ doesn't spread rumors about Apple to protect it's interests. If this seems like a moral inconsistency, it is. That would presuppose the staff of the WSJ had any values.

Well... (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848922)

In another camp, there are the ones who are dreaming about magic 3D interfaces and other experimental stuff, thinking that Apple would come up with a wondrous new interface that nobody can imagine now, one that will bring universal love, world peace and pancakes for everyone

We HAVE 3D interfaces projected onto the 2D space of a multi-touch screen, which makes for some pretty awesome experimental stuff. And who knows, maybe Apple will be the one to do it, maybe it'll be the Open Source Community.

Just because it seems unfathomable to you doesn't mean it isn't possible. I mean the whole love, peace, and pancakes is probably impossible, but not the interface part.

Pancakes? (0, Offtopic)

nate_wilbanks (887778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848928)

I prefer waffles.

Re:Pancakes? (0, Offtopic)

Smelly Jeffrey (583520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849114)

Marti Page: Mom, is Grandpa Walter going to give me noogies?
Susan Page: Of course he's going to give you noogies. He loves giving you noogies. That's how he tells you he loves you.
Little Neal Page: Why doesn't he give me noogies?
Susan Page: Because you get Indian burns.
Little Neal Page: But I prefer noogies.

Are they ahead of the market? (4, Interesting)

trafic_man (774311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848936)

From the article “For its part, Asus has netbooks and smartbooks running on Android and Chrome OS in its R&D labs, according to Shih, but is waiting until conditions are right to release them.” “Prototypes of tablet or slate PCs - touchscreen machines with no keyboards suited to watching media, reading e-books and web browsing - are sitting in Asus labs but Shih said the company is holding back on releasing any devices.” There may also be a product cycle from a hacked prototype in the R&D lab to full consumer release. The article makes it seem like they have the things in boxes ready to ship, its just that the Chairman Jonney Shih is waiting for the right time to slam his hand on the easy button and get them to market. What bothers me about this is it seems these comments are aimed at confusing investors into believing Asus is leading the way with these technologies like they did with the Eee PC. That does not seem to be the case.

my "stove top" app has been accepted by Apple (2, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848970)

It turns the center of iSlate into a heater good for making coffee or heating ramen noodles. The CPU is right under that spot. All I do it run a program that counts how much Steve Jobs is making and it heats up real quick.

Re:my "stove top" app has been accepted by Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849482)

This is Bill Gates....come on admit it Bill

more like a product in search of a market (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848982)

netbooks have crappy margins. building a tablet where you are forced to buy "content" just to use it is a stealth way of increasing average revenue per unit

Re:more like a product in search of a market (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849264)

I have an iPod and iPhone. Show me anywhere that I am "forced to buy content" just to use it. In fact, many of the most useful apps are free ones.

We'll see. (2, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30848992)

It's true enough that a tablet PC that's essentially just a scaled up iPhone would be pretty cool. If it's based on something similar to iPhone OS it'd be easy for developers to port existing apps too, so the App Store would fill up with software for it relatively quickly too. A tablet scale version of Orbital would be brilliant.


It'd cost a lot. It wouldn't be particularly usable for traditional apps like email. It'd be great for watching films and stuff, but not as good as a TV. I guess it'd appeal to a narrow band of Apple nerds; even fewer than bought into the Macbook Air. While I'm sure Apple are capable of releasing something like that, and making a profit out of it, I can't help but think they're cleverer than that. Whatever is coming is going to have to be bigger (in the sense of appealing to the populace rather than a tiny subset of it) than a mere tablet even if they make it super snazzy.

Re:We'll see. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849110)

Exactly. The people who might buy a scaled up iPhone tablet are people who have an iPhone. Oops. No market.

Apple might be able to sell a $200-$300 e-book reader. They won't be able to sell a $1000 iPhone++. If they're actually aiming for the $500+ price point, which seems likely, they're going to have to come up with something that can substitute for a notebook in many circumstances.

Re:We'll see. (4, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849348)

I think you're overlooking the overall design. TFA alludes to it well, but I'll be explicit about it:

Apple is looking into killing the Mac as we know it.

They have a world in their mind's eye where they control all content through a single iTunes store. Your phone, your appliance, your workstation - all the same, with all of their users shopping directly from Apple itself. All applications that the machine will run are vetted and controlled, and Apple gets a cut of everything. They also get gobs and gobs of data from the purchase habits and the apps themselves.

If this tablet succeeds, they inch closer to their goal. Thus, they could well slash the cost, probably beyond any hopes of a profit, towards achieving their goal of getting a cut on all the software.

And if you like a world where you can download and run free software, this concept probably should frighten you, at least a little. Because if Apple does it, and does it right, the world will follow behind them.

At any rate, bookmark this post. You may want to come back later and compare it to what actually happened... ;)

Re:We'll see. (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849540)

Do you have anything to back up your claims that "Apple is looking into killing the Mac as we know it." in the sense that they're looking to kill it as a general purpose computer? Or are you simply doing the tired old "mac = lock-in = for idiots = gaytardz fagetry lulz!!11" thing?


Re:We'll see. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849716)

Well, first off, I'm not overly inclined to respond to an accusation of participating in 'gaytardz fagetry'. Second, I did specifically refer you to the very Fine Article, which it seems you have not read. Finally, I also implicitly stated that I was making a prediction, and that it might be fun to compare it to reality later.

I suppose I could have also stated that I am not Steve Jobs, I do not know anyone who works for Apple, and everything I am envisioning is pure speculation.

With that all out of the way:

During those years, Raskin wanted the information appliance concept to be the basis of the Mac but, as we know, the Macintosh evolved into a multiple purpose computer.

The original design was that of an appliance that molded into what you needed it to be. It became, more or less, in line with what other people were doing at the time. But that wasn't what Apple wanted it to be.

The iPhone is the information appliance that Raskin imagined at the end of his life: A morphing machine that could do any task using any specialized interface. Every time you launch an app, the machine transforms into a new device, showing a graphical representation of its interface. There are specialized buttons for taking pictures, and gestures to navigate through them. Want to change a song? Just click the "next" button. There are keys to press phone numbers, and software keyboards to type short messages, chat, email or tweet. The iPhone could take all these personalities, and be successful in all of them.

Here we have a picture of the iPhone as a proof-of-concept for the original Mac design of the morph-able appliance.

I bet that Jobs and others at Apple saw the effect this had on the consumer market, and instantly thought: "Hey, this thing changes everything. It is like the new Mac after the Apple II." A new computing paradigm for normal consumers, from Wilson's Mac-and-PC-phobic step-mom to my most computer-illiterate friends. One that could be adopted massively if priced right. A new kind of computer that, like the iPhone, could make all the things that consumers—not professionals, or office people—do with a regular computers a lot easier.

You really should read TFA, but I'll continue...

With these four key problems solved, whatever extra Apple adds—like extra gestures—is just icing on the iPhone user interface cake that so many consumers find so delicious. The important thing here is that the fabled Apple Tablet won't revolutionize the computing world on its own. It may become what the Mac was to the command-line computers, but the revolution already started with the iPhone.

If Apple has interpreted its indisputable success as an indication about what consumers want for the next computing era, the new device will be more of the same, but better and more capable.

And finally...

The most logical step, however, is to follow the iPhone and the direction set by Raskin years ago. To me, the tablet will be the continuation of the end for the classic windowed environment and the desktop metaphor user interface. And good riddance, is all I can say.

This is where the article leaves it.

I'm picturing the next, logical, step: realizing the Mac in actuality as it was first imagined, with an iPhone/iTunes/'Jobs owns Disney' twist.

Does that 'back up' my 'claims' to your satisfaction?

The first interface (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849668)

The netbook craze has shown one thing: average users no longer care about speed or enormous screen size. Honestly, I would have never believed anyone if they said I could buy a gigahertz phone in 2010, I'm not sure I would have believed them. If it can play MP3s, 720p, and requires little maintenance, most users are going to be happy.

Pretty soon the only thing the user is going to care about is the size of the screen. They'll want it to dock to a keyboard and mouse when they sit down to write a paper. Otherwise, they'd like to drag it around the house. It won't be a computer, so much as an interface to their data - as the article states, a true information appliance.

The Apple product may suck, but it will probably sell people on the idea that tablets are "cool." And in a way, that may be the most important thing to go to the next level of interaction with computers.

Think about the iMacs that were just released: wireless keyboard and mouse, enormous display with a stand that only requires a power cable. Exchange the stand with a dock and make it smaller with a touch interface. Hopefully they will provide some good hardware I/O on the dock, but again, for the regular users, they won't care if it has every sort of port in the world. As long as they can get on youtube and facebook without having to fuss with a traditional computer, they will be fine.

Files too much for n00bs... (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849008)

It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that things like files
and folders are too confusing for the novice. They are a pretty intuitive
metaphor and heirarchical organization is something that humans tend to do
naturally. A lot of this seems to be mindless fear mongering and I really
don't get what the "self interest" is here.

A "normal" person can navigate Virgin Megastore but they can't do the same
thing with the same content in files and folders?


People are being actively discouraged from exploring the interface and gaining
any understanding it. This is limiting even with this "revolutionary new UI"
that the iphone is supposed to be.

Even the "databases" that files get sucked into still end up being simple and
relatively flat heirarchies.

Re:Files too much for n00bs... (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849568)

I have an iphone and have to scroll through pages of flat icons aranged in order of install to get to an app. Err, thats the revolution? Thats like pointing to someone on Windows who dumps all their files to their desktop with no folders and calling it efficient.

Its only efficient when you have under 20 items. Anything more requires some kind of basic organizational system. The desktop/file cabinet metaphor works especially well.

Then again, this is an opinion piece from gizmodo. Seems like these guys spend all their ad money on sugar and red bull while navel-gazing instead of beating feet and reviewing real devices like at engadget.

Re:Files too much for n00bs... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849750)

Um, you do know that you can rearrange the order of the icons right? And a screen doesn't have to be full before a new one is started. Each page of my iPod Touch is categorized - Games - Social Media Apps - Lifestyle/Finance - Utilities, etc. It's only unorganized if you choose to not organize it.

Re:Files too much for n00bs... (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849914)

It's all about scale. The ipod interface is easier for doing simpler things, but when you try to scale it up to a power-user level, it fails miserably compared to OS X and Windows.

As long as people want to do complex things with their computers, normal desktops and laptops aren't going away. However, there is a lot of computer that isn't that complex, and I can see a tablet fitting well into that sort of middle ground being ultra-portable smartphones and something to get real work done on. The vast majority of users never do anything but write emails, surf the web, and listen to music.

If it's just gonna be an oversized iPhone (2, Interesting)

cjeze (596987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849012)

I'll be disappointed. But if it is going to be a color eInk reader with similar friendliness as the iPhone, then there might be hope.

...and another thing. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849080)

Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

This sounds remarkably like the EXACT OPPOSITE of the sort of "consistency" that's supposed to be the bedrock of "good interfaces".

Re:...and another thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849180)

Good job missing the point. Consistent interfaces follow same conventions, widgets, components, but these are used to still build unique best fit interfaces.

Re:...and another thing. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849530)

No. I get the point perfectly.

You build the interface to suit the task, not to satisfy some ivory tower beaurocrats.

This is the exact opposite of what Apple fanboys push.

It's more like the various interfaces that get created for games.

Mod Parent Up (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849700)

The GP is arguing that Photoshop should have the same interface as Excel. Not very convincing.

Re:...and another thing. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849316)

Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different, etc. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

This sounds remarkably like the EXACT OPPOSITE of the sort of "consistency" that's supposed to be the bedrock of "good interfaces".

Not really. With a device like an iPhone, the user expects to see a defined set of parts of the interface - buttons, dials, movements. That's the consistent part. A button is a certain size, gestures are consistent, the various bits of the output (text, graphics, colors) look similar.

It is the arrangement of the various pieces parts and specific information encoded on them / within them that gives you the application. If an iPhone app just sat there and did nothing, expecting the user to whistle a specific series of tones before vibrating then displaying some information in Klingon - that would be confusing and would vary from the UI guidelines.

And probably sell thousands.

Re:...and another thing. (4, Informative)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849416)

Consistency doesn't necessarily mean "stays the same," it can mean "does the same thing, the same way." Take OXO Good Grips, for example. A different tool for every task, but the handles are always black and little squishy so even people who have never cored a pineapple know how to hold the tool.

If a UI changes to suit a task, that's ok. The UI in the iPhone is constantly changing, but a button shaped like an arrow pointing to the right always opens a sub-menu. Selecting a text box always brings up a keyboard. And it gets more specialized than that, but not more confusing. If you're typing in a field that expects an email address, you get a ".com" button. I haven't seen anyone look at the ".com" button and freak out.

Re:...and another thing. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849658)

The ".com" button is a big fat joke. It's a waste of valuable real estate that isn't even applicable most of the time.

If anything, it's a nice reminder of how awkward it is to type on that virtual keyboard.

It's a perfect example of the Apple mentality really...

Re:...and another thing. (1)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849804)

The ".com" button is a big fat joke. It's a waste of valuable real estate that isn't even applicable most of the time.

If anything, it's a nice reminder of how awkward it is to type on that virtual keyboard.

Really? I guess you're entitled to your opinion. I'll admit that I was surprised the first time I saw it, but it's never gotten in my way. It takes the spot of the space and return buttons.

I just don't see how that button is irrelevant when you're typing in an email address or a HTTP address, it's a whole four characters. If you hold it down it lets you choose .net .edu or .org and that's 99% of the TLDs I visit. If anything, I think it's a good example of what a virtual keyboard can do.

Re:...and another thing. (1)

wtmoose (639328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849996)

Maybe you're thinking of a different .com button? The one I use only shows up (along with "." and "/") in URL fields in place of the space bar. So three highly applicable keys replace one completely inapplicable key. I use them almost every time. No joke.

Re:...and another thing. (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849782)

Raskin describes this idea of the interface for every task being different. The device mutates and models itself on whatever is being done. The UI CHANGES to suit the task.

For a device as small as the iPhone with a limited OS, a modal interface that changes with the mode is really the only way to go.

The reason the "desktop" metaphor works for computers is because they have larger screens and multitask.

So, regardless of how amazing an Apple tablet might be, if it can't compete significantly with portable computers of the same size, then it will be a niche product. It still might sell millions, but with netbook/laptop sales in the billions, it will still be a drop in the bucket.

Basically, if Apple compromises frame rate by using e-Ink to extend battery life, then it won't have any of the video features of an iPhone. If they use a display that updates quickly, then the battery life will make this a poor eBook reader (especially at 2x-3x the price of existing ones). Last, if they lock in to an "app store" concept, then there will probably be a lot less useful software (like nothing to compete with any Apple products).

So, it's likely this will be a big announcement and the product might be good, and will almost certainly make Apple a great deal of money, but it's going to compete with too many markets to be more than a minor player in the grand scheme of things.

Data Entry (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849136)

On a tablet? Not gonna happen. Everyone needs to do data entry.

Although I suppose if you embed RFID in everything you could do away with data entry.

Pfffft, this gizmodo editorial sucks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849142)

Has anyone RTFA??? The author claims that the iPhone is radical because it "transforms" into various appliances.... an idea lead by the "visionary" Jef Raskins (Oh, let's forget about that stupid Canon Cat idea which kinda F'd up any idea of how much of a Nostradamus this guy was.

It's called "Maximize" in any modern GUI. Hide the start menu, make your screen black, set up "one touch" for desktop icons, and every application now magically has an iPhone interface.

Desktop going away? (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849154)

The article author seems to think that the iPhone interface is going to take over everything. That the app-that-takes-over-the-whole-screen paradigm is the universal solution to all computing.

We did that, twenty years ago. As soon as we developed computers powerful enough to multitask, we did. And I don't mean playing music in the background, but running multiple programs at once and interacting with them. For a small screen mobile device the one app at a time paradigm is pretty much mandatory. For larger screens, you want to see multiple things at a time.

Re:Desktop going away? (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849308)

Except that, in Windows land at least, many applications seem to be designed to be run maximised. So we alt-tab between them. Office, Photoshop, Eclipse, they all do it.

When windowing was starting to mature, we had some nice desktop environments that encouraged cooperation between applications that shared a screen. For example, in Sun's OpenView, to load a file into their TextEditor, you'd drag from a file window onto "document" hotspot. To save you'd drag from the hotspot into the file window.

Acorn's RiscOS was really big on drag & drop between windows.

We see a lot less of that now. When you do drag and drop, you usually drop onto an application, rather than a specific part of its window. It's a mechanism for doing less precise things. And it's usually acheived by dragging to the MacOS Dock, or in Windows by doing the tedious "drag to the task bar, hover til your app comes to the front, drag back up, drop" routine.

Re:Desktop going away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849574)

Except that, in Windows land at least, many applications seem to be designed to be run maximised. So we alt-tab between them. Office, Photoshop, Eclipse, they all do it.

Dude, it's the 21st century. None of that is true any more. If an app runs better full screen then it's usually either because a) you're working with a huge piece of content such as a picture or b) your monitor is too small. The only thing I ever run full screen is Visual Studio, and I can and have run two VS windows side by side without any UI annoyances. My Office windows match the document size and shape. My browsers are sized to I can have two side by side with just a little overlap. Photoshop is pretty much the only app that has to be run fullscreen. If it just used a more multi-monitor friendly UI like Pixelmator and (gasp) Gimp have that wouldn't be necessary. It's part of why I prefer Pixelmator and GIMP...none of that One Window To Rule Them All crap.

Basically if you're running your apps full screen, you're doing it wrong.

Re:Desktop going away? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849694)

I actually think one of the primary reasons that the Windows world is still filled with "fullscreen only" apps is because there are lots of users and developers who grew up thinking that way due to their computers being set to run at 800x600 or 1024x768 for way too long (Mac and *nix users seemed to crave higher resolutions to a much higher degree), hell I still have friends who insist on running their $2,500 gaming rigs hooked up to some crappy old 17" CRT running at 1280x960@75Hz "because CRTs are better than LCD monitors (and I'm too cheap to buy a new monitor)". Not to mention that pre-XP most Windows users were used to not being able to run more than one app at a time (hell, any random combination of telnet client + irc client + web browser + winamp used to be enough to cause Win9x to crash at least once every couple of hours), and while that may also have been true for Mac OS prior to Mac OS X most Mac users still seemed to crave higher resolutions (not to mention that if you bought a Mac back in those days you generally did so somewhere where the choice in monitors probably didn't include 14-15" monitors barely capable of crapping out 1024x768@75Hz).

As an example, my boss, former coder turned CIO, he still runs all apps fullscreen and seems to spend more time trying to find the right window but absolutely refuses to trying running his apps "un-maximised" because he has always run his apps maximised...


Re:Desktop going away? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849820)

On Windows, yes. That's one of the things that bugs people moving from Windows to the Mac, in fact. The "maximize" button on a Mac window does not maximize to fill the whole screen.

IE does the fill the screen thing, and a lot of websites are (very annoyingly) designed assuming a window that fills a particular size screen. Photoshop doesn't though - Photoshop windows are specifically sized to fit the image and do not normally maximize to fill the whole screen. Office has lots of options for zooming documents, etc. including a feature (on by default no?) to fit the document to the width of the window, which only makes sense if you expect windows to be different widths.

If you watch the workflow of most professional computer users who are doing something other than using a web browser, you will find that they frequently use different windows from different apps (or different windows from the same app) at the same time, whether it's a coder with a text editor and a few terminals open, or a secretary going back and forth between multiple documents. Multiple monitors, which are more popular now than ever before, are overwhelmingly used to display more than one window at once.

RIP Desktop Metaphor (2, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849164)

I've always thought that the desktop metaphor was a short sighted misstep in interface design. It doesn't scale well. It tries to duplicate a convention that is the result of the realities of storing and managing physical files, and along with that it duplicates all of it's shortcomings. I have been very pleased to see, through the iPhone and the internet, that it is finally passing away.

I too hope that the tablet mac follows this trend. Rest in peace desktop metaphor, may your days on my computer soon be ended.

Mostly-receive devices (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849166)

There's a difference between devices that are mostly for receiving information, and those that are for doing something with it. Music players, "e-book" readers, navigation devices, and entertainment devices in general are mostly-receive. They need a much simpler interface than a creation device. Try to cram a CAD application into the iPhone interface. [cadtouch.com] It's possible, but it's not happy there.

This is a bigger distinction than the form factor. Mostly-receive devices can get along with a blunt interface of big buttons.

Brain Interface... (0, Flamebait)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849212)

Is the next big step, ie. Cyberbrains....

Turn everyone with one into a info savant and idiot. Only then will we be able to reach the holy grail of computing, "LOL cats IN yur head, messin' up yur mew-ons"

Re:Brain Interface... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30850014)

Turn everyone with one into a info savant and idiot.

Well, we're almost halfway there already....

Nice, sure, but revolutionary? (4, Interesting)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849254)

Can someone please SERIOUSLY ( no pro or anti apple fanaticism please) explain what exactly is so revolutionary about iPhone interface?

They have pages of icons - kind of like desktop UI, but pretty much EXACLY like 90's PalmOS and many other portable OS's.

They added gestures on OS level (scroll bar everywhere, instead of certain part of the screen), which was also available on PC and some advanced PalmOS apps - although it was a nice touch to make it part of OS. Multi-touch is cute, but hardly a revolution (except maybe literally)

They removed many standard UI components like date pickers and replaced them with clunky wheels - that was probably a step back.

They added a software repository- the kind Linux world was using for a decade.

They added extra sensors to the OS - which were nice, but also been available on other devices for a while.

There is nothing new here except for putting bunch of existing things all together, for which they certainly deserve praise, but all in all it seems like a great evolutionary work, hardly a revolutionary one.


You're right, it's not revolutionary. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849392)

Can someone please SERIOUSLY (no pro or anti apple fanaticism please) explain what exactly is so revolutionary about iPhone interface?

Nothing. It's just the next evolutionary step of the model Palm introduced in the '90s. It doesn't make sense for a tablet.

Now if they were to bring back the Newton scroll, that would be interesting.

Re:Nice, sure, but revolutionary? (2, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849522)

To quote^H^H^H^H^Haparaphrase an IBM commercial: "...the greatest thing since sliced bread. But the person who invented sliced bread didn't invent bread. He didn't even invent slicing."

Take all of the "like..." statements you made, which are all over the map, and put it all in one place. "putting bunch of existing things all together"... is the revolution.

Saying there is nothing new here is like saying that you take some rockets, some heat shielding, some wings and make the space shuttle. No biggie.

Re:Nice, sure, but revolutionary? (5, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849600)

As you say, it was the combination and the polish. There's no one thing (that I can think of) on the iPhone that you can't find on some previous device/software. But there's also no previous device with all (or even many) of those things, polished to such a high degree. From a feature list point of view it's certainly evolutionary - but I'd certainly say it was revolutionary from an overall user experience point of view.

As the Gizmodo article points out, the general UI idea of a page of icons which load full screen apps is just like Palm. And I was a big Palm fan back in the day - their problem was that although the UI was fine, it was hampered by the tech to the point where even if the concept worked it was so unattractive to use as to be very niche. Resistive touch screens required stylii, which suck. Early models were monochrome, even color models had nothing like the graphical fidelity of the iPhone. The graphics chips couldn't do things like full screen animations, fades, etc and of course there was no such thing as persistent wireless internet (and yes, I had the Palm III GSM modem, it blew chunks even then!). Apple waited until the tech existed to do what they knew would impress people, rather than try to make something they hoped would sell within the limits of the available tech. In the process they pretty much totally reinvented the highend cellphone market and IMHO brought the PDA concept back from the dead.

My personal story: I'm not an Apple fan. I do own a Mac, but it's my least used machine and I really don't like it very much. I grew up on Atari, DOS/Windows, Palm, Nokia and later Linux. When the iPhone came out I had no intention of buying one, until I happened to be by the Apple store in a mall on launch weekend and popped in to see what all the fuss was about. Within a couple of minutes of playing with it I was in line to buy one, and several upgrades later I have no regrets. I still detest iTunes, and am officially "meh" on OSX, but nothing is tempting me away from the iPhone. Android has potential, but it's not there yet.

Re:Nice, sure, but revolutionary? (1)

NotPeteMcCabe (833508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849878)

The revolution part lies not in the brand new features etc., but in how many people begin using the new interface in the real world. The original Macintosh was an evolution on Xerox PARC designs, but the Mac spread those ideas to millions of actual people, from whence they spread to Windows (and thus billions of people). Same with the iPod: comparable devices existed, but the iPod is the one that everyone started using. That's the revolution, and it never looks like one to people on the inside of the industry.

Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30849384)

Here are the facts - if Apple releases what is just a big iPhone it will be boring. If they do something really new, it will be buggy, and if they use OSX, then it will be more of the same. And no matter what they release, it will cost too much for anyone to spend too much time caring about...

Re:Silly (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849580)

Very good point. Sure, they're be coming to a liberal arts school near you, but aside from some poofy college kids, I doubt you'll see these everywhere, like you do with iPhones and such. It's going to cost way more than an iPod, and you can't get one discounted through your cell phone provider.

Huh? (1)

Scyber (539694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849460)

What is so magical about the iPhone interface? The same people I see struggle with windows or OS X struggle with the iPhone when they get it. The difference is they tend to use the iphone more on a daily basis than their desktop and are therefore more proficient at specific tasks. Ask them to do something they are unfamiliar with and they struggle. Heck I knew one guy that had an iphone for 3 months and still didn't know how to install an app. I'd guess its more of a generational thing than anything else. My experience has shown that anyone over 55 or so is more likely to struggle when it comes to anything computer related. Under that usually are more proficient with computers (and/or specific programs). So I believe the "iphone ui revolution" had more to do with the timing being right with a large percentage of the population being more computer friendly.

Slashvertising in full effect (2, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849560)

This is the sixth article this month on Slashdot directly relating to a apple {vaporware} tablet...

Re:Slashvertising in full effect (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849946)

Probably not a Slashvertisement, but instead just Slashdot trying to jump on they hype train and garner some hits.

Sanctifying Raskin, again (2, Interesting)

ynotds (318243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30849678)

I hate posting negatively, even more so about the dead, but it really is time the legend was buried with the man.

Back when it was still possible I was in a fortunate position which gave me access to many of the Valley's elite.

Raskin still sticks out in my mind as far and away the least credible.

Put simply, he suffered problems I've seen afflict other failed would-be futurists in other places. His ideas were all grounded on a past that had never existed. And when the world didn't turn out to match his dreams, it was everybody else's fault.

On a more positive note, I'm looking forward to forming an opinion of the tablet next Thursday (my time) but don't have over-inflated expectations. At launch, the Touch was clearly the most important user interface innovation since 1984 and the only product in recent years I both ordered and received on the first possible day. But applying Stuart Kauffman's analysis of navigation strategies for rugged fitness landscapes, there is ever less scope for radical innovation and more likelihood of gain from incremental strategies, the bleedingly obvious double click on a word resolution of the supposed problem of a selection interface being a case in point.

Leaving aside the media capabilities that we can safely assume, my judgment of the tablet will be based on whether it looks likely that it will eventually run a few litmus test applications well enough: Bento, OmniGraffle, Keynote, TextWrangler and Perl 6. I won't need all of them, but might find it harder to justify without at least a couple.

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