Apple is almost certainly going to launch a tablet today. It won’t be the first tablet PC to hit the streets. As I mentioned yesterday, companies have been pumping out handheld, touchscreen devices for decades. But the Apple Tablet is probably the most hyped product of the last two years and it should be extraordinarily interesting to see if it (or any product, for that matter) can live up to the hype.

One of the most interesting elements for me is the fact that all signs point to the Apple Tablet running a version of the iPhone operating system. On the one hand, that’s great news because there are over 100,000 apps for the platform that should run smoothly out of the box. And the OS was designed from the ground up to be touchscreen-friendly. And one of the biggest complaints people have had about tablet PCs running Windows XP, Vista, and 7 is that they’re essentially running a desktop OS designed for a mouse and keyboard. Sure, you can slap on some handwriting recognition software and support for a stylus, fingertips, and even multitouch gestures. But the basic paradigm of folders, icons, a start menu, and so forth weren’t designed for touchscreens.

But here’s the thing: the iPhone OS wasn’t really designed for a powerful tablet computing experience either. It was designed for a cellphone that fits in your pocket and which is incapable of running many apps that you can use on a full fledged computer.

Now if all you want to do is read web sites, eBooks, magazines, and watch movies and play a few finger-friendly games, that might not be a big problem. But all signs point to the Apple Tablet costing a heck of a lot more than an iPhone, an Amazon Kindle, or any portable media player. So it would have been nice if Apple had designed an OS that was actually suited to a larger, more powerful device. Of course, it’s possible that this is exactly what Apple did. Just because the tablet can run iPhone apps doesn’t mean that the iPhone and iPod Touch will be able to run tablet apps. Maybe we’ll see video editors, office suites, and high quality games that will run on the tablet but not its little cousins.

But Apple isn’t alone in adapting a cellphone OS for its tablet. CES was choc full of companies showing touchscreen tablets running Google Android this year. It seems like in order to compete with Apple, plenty of other companies are thinking like Apple: If Windows was never that popular on tablets, why not try a different OS? Preferably one with no licensing cost?

What do you think? Are you interested in touchscreen tablets running cellphone operating systems? Or would you rather Windows, a full-fledged Linux distro like Ubuntu or Fedora, or a brand-new OS designed specifically for 7 to 10 inch tablets?

Bear in mind, all of this might be moot if Apple surprises us in a few hours by announcing something very different from what we’re expecting. But over the last day or so, there’ve been a lot of leaks pointing to a 10 inch tablet running iPhone apps.

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11 replies on “Do you want a tablet with a cellphone OS?”

  1. Nobody’s ever offered a 10″ touch-screen tablet for $500 before the iPad

  2. Will there be anyway to add applications without going through the APP store? I can’t see a need for something the size of a netbook without the capabilities of the latest generation.

  3. If you asked me that question before I owned an iPhone I would have told you, “No way in hell.” but now that I’ve had one for a little over a year, I can tell you, “Hell yeah!” without much trouble. It has everything to do with the user experience and the usage models that Apple is so famous now for tweaking with jeweler’s precision in their devices.

    Now, I’m also the very happy owner of an HP Mini 311 hackintosh that I don’t see being replaced by an iSlatelet either because I see them serving different purposes. My HP “Minibook” is really my home-away-from-home to my work machine (a MacBook Pro). I take the minibook to meetings to take notes, check mail, access web apps, websurf. I also take it with me as my tag-along computer when I’m out with the kids or on weekender trips that won’t need the bulk or brawn of my MBP. I also let my 5 yearold beat on it w/o worrying about her destroying a $3000 machine with all my professional data on it.

    I read e-books, listen to music, social network, read news/rss and watch video on my iPhone in addition to using it as my primary phone (my wife and I ditched our land line about a year ago too). The iPhone works well for most of those things, but the real estate issue is a serious problem for the eBook, video, and websurfing usage models. It works great in a pinch, but I’d love a little more screen when watch a movie/tv show or armchair surfing. This is where I see the iSlatelet fitting in and why I think that it needing a full-blown OS X desktop operating system isn’t necessary.

    The real question in my mind is whether the iPhone OS 4.0 enhancements will actually make it so that you can have apps run in both a “phone” and “tablet” mode such that their UI and functionality will scale to the target platform cleanly. And if anyone can pull that off, it’s certainly Apple.

  4. As with any Apple stuff, it would be overpriced. Thus, I doubt it can compete with the cheaper netbooks/smartbooks out there.

    People are copncerned with cost primarily and only a small proportion of the public would pay a hefty price for a sexy looking gadget

  5. If – there were a tablet, that came in a dock station, with keyboard, mouse, touch screen that could be taken with you, AND if it came with a MINI version where it would sync with an IPhone, AND if it came with Pixel Qi screen, with touch, where the screen that had a carbon fiber protective “lid”, AND if it had a “slider keyboard option, a 10 inch one that you could touch type with”, AND battery saving tech with ARM processor that is shut down when not being used… WITH 20 HOURS BATTERY per charge.

    AND if I could dual boot it with a favorite LINUX distro (the future Kubuntu Netbook Remix that will be “much better” this April looks good).

    Then, maybe. Then again, maybe not. Depends.

    I do like AA battery as I hate the TONS of proprietary batteries (one for every little device that are all bad for the environment in the long term when they hit the waste stream), AND if the smaller pocket version had AAA battery. IF it/they had that kind of battery tech, then I would have to really restrain myself. Well, in other words, it would have to be perfect in every way (and I doubt that such perfection even exists in the minds of the typical system engineers imagination, if they have imaginations). Then again, it is Steve Jobs, and he has proven himself to have the ability to bridge his imagination into engineering successes. Time will tell.

    If Apple does not do the above, then someone should… because they will have to do it in order to beat Apple. I expects something fun to see when it is announced and we can see some videos of it working.

    1. Or, have a mini-phone slider device that could dock inside the larger tablet that had a master dock as a desktop device too. All in one device, each with own power supply method (AA and AAA for portable devices).

      1. Could I dock that in my living room TV then 😛

        By the way, AA is nice and generic, but only any good at a constantly low drain.

  6. “Do you want a tablet”
    Stop there.

    It doesn’t fit in my pocket, so it’s too big to take with me easily.
    It doesn’t have a keyboard, so I can’t do real work it.

    So, it’s a toy I have to *really* want to take with me. Unless Apple has secretly perfected the virtual blowjob (iSuck?), this presentation is going to leave a lot of people cold.

  7. What do I think? I think this is gonna be just another overpriced iToy for yuppie tools.

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