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My Vision for Wednesday’s SteveNote Address

by Travis Harvey | January 26, 2010

Had enough of all this tablet speculation?  Too bad.  Tomorrow is the day where Steve’s set to take the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Although nobody truly knows what’s set to take place on that stage, there are plenty of rumors to sift through to help make your own predictions.  Sit back and let your mind wander as I unravel the keynote Jobs is set to deliver at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Minutes after 10 a.m., the hall will dim and Steve will take the stage.  He’ll start by saying what a tremendous year Apple’s had thanks to their strong lineup of hardware and its integration with great software.  He’ll recap 2009 and the release of their gorgeous new iMacs, and unibody MacBook and MacBook Pros.  About 50% of those who bought a Mac this year were first time Mac users.  Snow Leopard adoption has been a tremendous success with (insert percentage) of OS X users upgrading.  They attribute this success to great software.

ilife10To start the year, comes a new version of iLife.  iLife ’10 will bring updates to iMovie, iWeb, iPhoto, iDVD, and GarageBand.  Expect to see a revamp of the controversial iMovie ’09 and new features to iWeb like HTML 5 code.  No new version of iWork will be announced but there will an emphasis on things they’ve already been working on.  They’re going to continue the push to the cloud, allowing you to access your content from any device with a data connection.

He’ll move on to the success the iPhone has seen since its release only two and a half years ago.  They’ve captured a huge percentage of the marketshare thanks to its distribution in 86 countries around the world.  The App Store has seen success far beyond what they expected and their application selection dwarfs that of all its competitors.  So what’s next for the iPhone?

Steve will unveil some of the best features coming in iPhone OS 4.0.  Among these will be a new icon layout, something different for navigating applications.  Multitasking will be enabled, allowing users to run multiple non-Apple applications at once.  They’ll use a custom Expose function to allow users to easily switch between applications.  They’ve got some new APIs that developers will be able to access, allowing for a new breed of applications that were unavailable until 4.0.  The 4.0 SDK will be available for developers immediately and will ship later this year.  Developers will have several months to ensure their applications are 4.0 compatible by the time the OS update is released.iphone4sdk

He’ll take a few minutes to remind everyone what Apple has done since the early 2000s.  They’ve revolutionized the portable media player with the iPod and its integration with iTunes.  They’ve pushed the smartphone market ahead by years with the groundbreaking iPhone to which competitors would take years to catch.   Now it’s time for something new.  They saw tremendous success with multi-touch on the iPhone and iPod Touch but that was only the beginning.  This product has been years in the making and Steve will say it’s the best device he’s ever had a hand in making.

He’ll talk about the failures of the last decade’s tablet computers.  The technology wasn’t there and neither was the software.  He’ll downplay the stylus that’s used on so many tablet computers, creating a disconnect in the user experience the moment the user has to slide it out.  The stylus is a buzz kill.  Thanks to multi-touch they’ve created a user experience (UX) that’s natural and allows the user to truly interact seamlessly with the hardware.  Here it is, the Tapplet (for lack of the real name).  Get it?  Has ‘apple’ in it, sounds like tablet, you tap it with your fingers.

The Tapplet is a gorgeous 10.1” LCD tablet computer with a high pixel density, like that of Apple’s newer iMacs.  The device will be housed in an aluminum shell that’s possible through their unibody construction.  The Tapplet will have a power button, headphone jack, camera, microphone, and built-in speakers.  It will sync through Apple’s 30-pin dock connector.  Internally, it will have GPS, compass, and accelerometer and be available in 32GB and 64GB models.  Its software will be unlike anything we’ve seen so far.  It’ll be a much more capable iPhone OS spinoff, able to run all of the App Store’s 130,000+ applications.  An SDK will be available for developers to prepare tablet applications today.  Gestures will play a huge part in OS navigation where we see the implementation of tons of multi-finger movements.

tabletThe device will be used for any media you can think up.  Magazines, books, newspapers, movies, TV shows, music, etc. will be emphasized on a screen other ebook readers cant compete with.  They’ll announce the opening of an iTunes Bookstore of sorts that allows readers to have magazines and newspaper content pushed to the device as you subscribe. Newspapers, for example, will be on the device moments after they’re published with rich video content to supplement the articles as we’ve seen in concept videos.  This bookstore is primed to do for print what it did for music.

The Tapplet is meant to be a device that is always connected.  While most users will heavily rely on WiFi, 3G data connections will be optional.  Both AT&T and Verizon will be supported with each subsidizing the device with a 2-year data contract.  Independent of a contract, the Tapplet will cost $799 for the 32GB model and $899 for the 64GB model.  On contract, the devices will fall by $400, dropping the price to $399/$499 respectively.  The Tapplet will eat on-contract netbooks alive and it’ll ship this March.

Although Apple isn’t ready to announce AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity until this coming summer, they’ve set the Tapplet up with Verizon to establish a ‘strong relationship’ from which they’ll grow the iPhone.  The remaining life of the 3GS will still be tied strictly to AT&T.

And that’s a wrap!  No MacBook Pro Core i5 announcement, no MacBook Air refreshes.  They’ll save these for a smaller event, one similar to the unibody unveiling or a press release phantom update.  This event focuses on the Tapplet they didn’t want anything stealing a sliver of it’s spotlight.

What are your predictions for Wednesday’s event?  How’d I fare?  Am I spot on or couldn’t be more wrong?  Share your expectations in the comments.