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Portables (Apple) Businesses Patents Hardware Apple

Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos) 565

jkheit writes "I wrote a quick news item over at the Mac Observer that might be of interest. Apple patents a tablet Mac. The new photos confirm that this device is a touch-screen Apple tablet. You can see it here."
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Apple Patents Tablet Mac (with Photos)

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  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:27PM (#12493801) Homepage Journal
    They are very simple illustrations, not photos.

    Would a Mac tablet ever see the light of day? This is not intended as a
    troll/flame, but how big is the market for a niche product from a niche
    computer manufacturer?

    A mirror of the photos^H^H^H^H^H^Hillustrations is here [networkmirror.com].
  • by podperson ( 592944 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:29PM (#12493819) Homepage
    One can only assume that it will use bluetooth and other wireless technologies to hook up to anything external. At most there appears to be one connection, which appears to be for an AC adapter.
  • Its nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Upaut ( 670171 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:29PM (#12493820) Homepage Journal
    It looks, should they make it, to be smaller and lighter than a "current" tablet PC. Kinda like an oversized PDA. Like a Newton and a Powerbook got freeky in the back room...

    Its so pure, I think I'm going to cry...

    Seriously though, I am hoping to see something like this in the near future. Hopefully it will be 'announced' in the next Macworld Boston. Inkwell is such a nice pice of software, it would be great to see it being used in a tablet.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot ( 848674 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:31PM (#12493839)
    Apple patents a lot of things which never see the light of day. It may be that their tablet implamentation has a few unique features they want to patent, but they have no real intention of bringing a TabletMac to market anytime soon. Of course, that could change if they think market conditions warrent...

    Though the pictures don't indicate this, I wonder if they could also be filling in a few final functional gaps to turn the iPod into a full-blown PDA? Tantalizing as that might be, it's probably unlikely as well, seeing as how they're making bigger margins on the iPod Photo than PDA manufacturers are making on their product...

    Crow T. Trollbot

  • Re:Patent? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:32PM (#12493851)
    It is by description not the concept of the tablet computer, but the specific instance of design for and product of the tablet Macintosh-this is original.
  • I noticed that in Apple Quartz Composer, there is mention of a TABLET pen location. I tried this with my Wacom Graphire, and no luck. At this point, I figured that apple must be making new drivers for existing tablets. Well, I guess it's an APPLE BRAND TABLET PC!!! Whoohoo!.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:41PM (#12493932) Homepage Journal
    Apple has some experience in this. The newton was the tablet PC that technology would allow. It was a full powered computer, with expandability and full network connections. I remember transfering files over my ethernet. I did not have to connect my Newton to my computer, only my network.

    What killed the Newton was syncronization. All the stuff I wrote on the newton was difficult to transfer to the Mac. All my contacts on the Mac was difficult to reliably syncronize to the newton. Don't tell me how to do it. I have used a newton from the day it came out until they day they kiled it. I have all the tools, cards, utilities, whatever. I still ahve 2000 sitting in it's leather case in my house.

    So, as soon as palm V came out, small, sync, everything, I was all over it. It was could not be a writing machine, but I could live with that. My Newton became more trouble than it was worth.

    But Apple now has sync, at least for what can fit on the .Mac drive. It does not sync macs, and I have found nothing that will do so quickly over 802.11b, but you can do calendars, contacts, mail, and good number of documents, which is has made my life so much easier.

    So, this tablet PC, which will have bluetooth and airport, can do what the newton never could. Be an effective remote terminal. You can carry it around for an hour or a day, and, within a few minutes, all relevent changes can be transfered. You can take it to the coffee house, sync to .Mac, and by the time you get back home, your big machine can be updated.

    Am I sorely afraid I will buy this thing. Yes. I don't really know what I would use it for, which is the rub. If it is like an iTablet, consumer priced, it would be fun to have. If it was PowerTablet, the investment would be difficult.

  • Using Tiger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CypherXero ( 798440 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:49PM (#12493988) Homepage
    Tiger (10.4) has a built-in feature that allows you to rotate the screen.

    Go the the System Preferences and then hold down the option key while you click the Displays button. You will see a pulldown thats labeled "Rotate". Select it and you will see your screen rotate.
  • by EraserMouseMan ( 847479 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:51PM (#12493996)
    So Apple's clearly copying Microsoft? I mean seriously. This IS one example of where MS totally invented a new market (consumer-grade tablets) and now Apple's trying to get in on it.

    Mod Away!!!!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:57PM (#12494063)
    Wow. That's a clever post. Hint: plug the number into Google.

    I feel like we're playing that "I love bees" game, and ASOTV is the AI handing out clues.
  • Here is what I think (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:59PM (#12494082) Homepage
    OK. I bought a Mac in January, so here is what I think.

    First and formost, cool. I would have given it consideration, without a doubt. If Apple turned the 12" PB or iBook into a table, that would rock. Now the "doodles" (I find it hard to call them photos, and as drawings they look like basically every other tablet) don't seem to show a keyboard. I've seen pics of PC tablets that the screen can be "reversed" making it a tablet, or used like a normal laptop and I think that's a great idea.

    Now what would be REALLY cool would be to make the iBook: Touch (like the name? Come on Apple, use it!) have a touch screen (simple on/off with high resolution), but make the PowerBook: Touch even better. Whether they develop it themselves or partner with Wacom or something like that, that would rule. It would have pressure sensitivity (256 levels?) and angle sensing like the Wacom tablets. Think how great that would be for graphic artists.

    Now that might not be cheap. Mass production may help, but Wacom sells the Cintiq montitor/tablet that is 17" and 1280x1024 with 512 levels of pressure for $1799 MSRP. Maybe they'd have to make it an option. So even at 1024x768 if they cut down the resoltuion of touch (64, maybe 32 levels? And the size would be smaller, only 12") they could make it cheaper.

    It would be awesome. If anyone could make a tablet that would be great and really cause tablets to take off (instead of being the failure I've heard them called), it would be Apple.

  • by Omega1045 ( 584264 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:02PM (#12494116)
    Aren't tablets expensive enough without them being macs? I will get modded down by the mac zealots, but this is serious. What market are they trying for here? I would love it if business ran Linux on cheap PC hardware, but the truth is that the vast majority of business runs on Windows. And I think that "business" will be the consumers of tablets in the near future. Apple is going to have a very small market here. If they try to sell to the PC based people they will most likely be offering a more expensive version of something (table PC) that has not been that well received.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:16PM (#12494209) Homepage
    Well, tablets don't sell to well from what I've heard. If they really took off (and Apple knows how to make break-away products) the cost wouldn't be so bad. Tablets already sell at a premium (IIRC), so the "Apple Tax" may be the same so the costs would be about equal.

    Also, while Apple only has like 4% of the PC market, they have a MUCH bigger chunk of the laptop market.

    But let's face it. If Apple wants to release a niche product at a premium, the are free too. If it stays niche, then no problem. If the market explodes, it would get cheaper (economies of scale and all that).

  • Re:Um, no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:30PM (#12494330) Homepage
    If you create diagrams and explanations, tablets make a huge difference.

    When we solve the problem of incorporating images online, [taoriver.net] and when we have cheap tablets, you're going to see Wikipedia (and the rest of the web) light up with diagrammed explanations of things.

    Visual Language [emacswiki.org] is going to be big and near-ubiquitous. It'll be a lot easier to learn about stuff.

    But, the pressure will be on you to make visual explanations. People will have much higher visual literacy. The knowledge in "Understanding Comics" will be near-ubiquitous- common sense. Text-only [taoriver.net] will be fogey-style.

    So, after a while, the pressure will be on to use a Tablet, or whatever the future equivalent is. Perhaps you'll just write with a stylus on a table, [taoriver.net] and the camera next to you infer where you're drawing, and use a laser to print it down for you, or something. Who knows.
  • by sockit2me9000 ( 589601 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:33PM (#12494350)
    I've posted this a couple of times before, but it works here as well.
    This is a remote. Or Apple's version of one. Look, apple's already said that they veiw thier media in a modular way. That's because they are a weird amalgamation of a software and hardware. This model really affects thier design in a fundamental way. They view both as feeding the other. Unlike Microsoft. Or Sony. Both of those companies don't have the (ability) (balls) (forsight) to realize that you really do benefit from doing both. That's because the new tech market is turning towards usability as it's prime selling point. Witness the iPod. But you know this.
    Now, think about the home media center. What is the primary user interface element? The remote. For all intents and purposes, the equipment has acheived a level of abstraction in our heads. What do the butttons on a TV do? Who cares? The remote can do it. My AV receiver doesn't even have all the bottons on the face. Only on the remote. And this abstraction yeilds some interesting results.
    One, that you handle your remote more times in the average day than a book or your keyes. We don't even realize how much time we spend with these damn things. They are integral. And they almost uniformly suck. How many remotes do you use? How much fumbling? Your universal remote does most things. But what about when you need to schedule and rank your DVR? The remote falls apart. The fuction is mapped to some button that is not intuitive. It's a giant mess. Sort like the MP3 market ummm.... four years ago.
    While the remote is bad at it's primary function, it falls apart completely when it comes to digital media. Enter microsoft with their assinine "Media Center PC" Why God, why? Why do you need a whole new computer in your living room? You already have a computer somewhere in your house. But Microsoft is a software company. They need to sell the software. They're trying to break out of this with the Xbox. And they will haves success. But it's a lackluster implimentation of the central problem: the remoteis the media center, see. How are people going to interact with the Xbox? With the controller and a TV monitor. This is crummy, in my mind, because if thier view of media is to add another box to the den that just happens to deal with my digital media as a second fuction, I call bullshit. Let each componant do what it is primarily good at. The Xbox controller , even if it includes that rollerball thing, still is a poor way to interact with media. It'll be good for gamers, sure. But that will color the rest of it functionality. It already has, really. See, there's no big, legible display to speak of on the damn thing. So you abstract the abstract. The Xbox took over your media and the controller takes over your Xbox, which makes you look at the tv screen as the navigation aid. I'm not sure if I can exactly explain why.... but this feels icky to me.
    So, this is where Apple steps in. The Airport express is an important clue. The idea is make a centeral computer and stream over the air the media to a router near the media center. But make the router "magic" Using, I don't know, Rendevou...err... Bonjour. Which just got released for the PC, yes? Pieces are starting to fall into place. So, what's misssing is a remote that doesn't suck for your media that can interact wirelessly with your media. Something like a big lcd touchscreen. And only like an LCD screen. Nothing else. It's the display and the input. Simple. Elegant. Getting cheap. This is a thin client, really. But it won't be marketed as such. No, it'll be the iPod for the rest of your life. It'll be your remote. It'll be your newspaper. It'll be your media manipulator (edit movies, work on garage band tracks, retouch photos). It will be your morning newspaper. It will be the thing you pick up when you put your iPod down. Think about it. All the technology is there. But it's maddening to use, especially for average consumers. They are maing a remote. They just have to be.
  • Re:billions? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dave1212 ( 652688 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:43PM (#12494408) Homepage
    Read the studies/reviews/etc.. there's no better UI than the iPod. Have you used one? Try it. Go on, it won't affect your closed mind.

    How about the amount of hassle required to get your music on one of those other players? MusicMatch Jukebox? WMP? RealPlayer? WinAMP? I don't think so, they all have cruddy interfaces that have not been thought out very well. Dragging music from one folder into another in Explorer has got to be the worst way to have to think about your music. You mean you can't make a playlist in your music prgram and then drag it over to your mp3 player? What's that, you need to go through folders on your hard drive until you've assembled the songs from that playlist and then drag them over in the right order that you want them to play? How sad.

    Do they play .mp4 or .aif? All my exports from the music studio are in .aif, and I rip most of my CDs to .mp4 because it sounds a bit better at the same bit rate, and takes up less space on my HD.

    We sell those other devices at the store I work at. We have sold 3 since January. We sell over 30 iPods a day. Tell me that all these people are just following a trend, that not one of them has done their homework and research to see which mp3 player is the best overall.

    Acessories? Let's see now.. what can you get for those other players? mmm.. not much, if anything. We have over 200 accessories for different models of iPod.. cases, FM stuff, camera crap, custom-designed speakers, all sorts of items that just won't work with those other players.

    Those poor other players.
  • by dave1212 ( 652688 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:07PM (#12494569) Homepage
    no, the mp3 player market faltered for a while before Apple picked up the slack.

    The tablet market has faltered for a while too, let's see what comes of it.
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:30PM (#12494722) Journal
    I'd buy an Apple tablet, but only if M-m-m-m-m... m-m-m-m.... m-m-m-m-m-m-Miiicrosoft (whew that was hard to say) ported a version of OneNote to OS X.

    Damn MS and OneNote. I live by OneNote on my laptop (not even a tablet) PC, and am desperately trying to find a way to run it in Linux short of a full-blown VMWare environment...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:46PM (#12494798)
    Whoops! Research please!

    Apple Computer is a huge computer manufacturer. In fact, they are the 5th biggest in terms of recent US sales figures, and sales are increasing more rapidly than any other manufacturer. [Source: IDC, 4Q2004 report]

    So even though Apple only holds 3.8% of the market:

    1. Dell @ 17% of market
    2. HP, @ 16% of market
    3. IBM, @ 5% of market
    4. Gateway, @ 4% of market
    5. Apple @ 3.8% of market

    And there you have it. They may be small compared to Microsoft's 95% OS penetration, but they are large in terms of being a product manufacturer, neatly falling in the "2nd tier by volume" along with IBM and Gateway.

  • by -Harlequin- ( 169395 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:51PM (#12494819)
    It sounds like you're not aware that tablet PCs already use none other than wacom's pressure sensitive pen system for their screens. So the price is not as bad as you're thinking. They're already mass-produced, and official (ie optimistic) figures are that the total cost of all specialised hardware additions of a tablet PC (not just the wacom systems) add only a $200 premium to the price. (I call BS, but that's another story)

    Often however, even though the wacom digitizer in a tablet PC supports various bells and whistles, the pen supplied is low-end, and you have to buy a better pen from wacom to get some of the things that would come standard in a stand-alone wacom setup, like the pressure-sensitive eraser on other end of the pen.

    I'm an artist. Tablet PCs are already great for art, they're just not marketed at artists (plenty of scope for apple to swoop in here - no significant changes needed, just the right advertising campaign, and BAM, much like the ipod), but when it comes to art, a CRT beats LCD any day. Apple can't change that any more than MS can. However, despite the better CRT display on my wacom-equipped desktop, I find myself now prefering to use my tablet for art, because of the ability to draw onto the screen. I didn't think it would make a significant difference, but after a while, I just discovered I do prefer it.

    Actually, I do know that there were a very small number of tablet PC models that tried using a non-wacom, non-pressure sensitive digitizer, but I get the impression they died the ignoble death they deserved.
  • Re:Patent? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by croddy ( 659025 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:59PM (#12494856)
    actually, I'm referring to their dubious patent on the iTunes software interface [com.com]. and no, I don't require your explanation of design patents. they are harmful, and must be neutralized.
  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @10:49PM (#12495184)
    > it screws up the subpixel rendering though.

    Hmmm... that's rather surprising and non-Apple-like. FWIW, freetype can handle vertical subpixel AA as
    well as several different subpixel orders. Rather unusual for Apple to bork something like that up.
  • Good question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by putaro ( 235078 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @11:21PM (#12495464) Journal
    Apple actually built a prototype Mac (System 7) tablet back in the mid-90's. They got as far as the "prototype" plastics being made and did a small run for internal testing (maybe a couple of dozen?). I saw some in use in the Tokyo office in '96 where they were being used to test the (Japanese language) handwriting recognition software. They were sturdy enough for day to day use and were left in the lunchroom for employees to use (the idea was to get lots of input with different people's handwriting styles). I don't recall why the project was killed then.
  • Re:billions? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jaydonnell ( 648194 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @12:44AM (#12495952) Homepage
    features and an intuitive easy to use interface are two very different things.

    My grandmother (honestly) uses itunes, she could never figure out wmp and believe me I tried. Then I bought her a mac and things have been great since. She has no clue about files and folders, but she can use itunes and iphoto and she loves it.
  • let's call it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bmeteor ( 167631 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:37AM (#12496212)
    ...iPad. Like a pad of paper, to draw on, to write on, read notes, and present art or view video. the name would converge with the Pages software metaphor, and of course fit in the i* naming convention.

    I can see it as a good product for kids, students,\ artists and business people having to make a presentation of any sort. The apple cool factor really appeals to all those markets, and could help the iPad over other tablet designs.

    It seems like it's a 5.5 x 8.5 design, which is exactly the same size as my note books in college, and my sketchbooks in art school. that size format is perfect for college because of the desk size in most lecture halls, and is really great for rough sketching. That's also about the size of Vintage International's novels.

    It's bigger than most PDA's but I could really see this as a huge revitalization for that market, as well as the subnotebook/tablet market. I always thought the biggest deficiency of the PDA was the lack of natural handwriting input, the small form factor, and the lack of backward software compatibility. The Subnotebook/tablet really didn't appeal to me because of the keyboards were too small (and i have small hands!), no handwriting recognition, too many hardware features and they seemed too thick for me.

    Convergence between these two categories could be a real money winner if apple tries to keep the feature set down following the success of the mini. leave out the modem, Ethernet, maybe video out, non-upgradable memory, USB, Firewire, and instead go with wifi, bluetooth, Dock connector, stereo minijack, and combo drive.

    I could see something like this come in at $749 and really start where newton left off. Newton was folded, largely because it was way before its time and it was introduced at a point in Apple's development where everything was based on creating more margin. now that they are more consumer oriented, something like this could really fly.
  • by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:50AM (#12496266) Journal

    It's doubtful that Apple currently has any real intention to follow through with this.

    So Please! Encourage them a bit http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/tablet_mac/ [ipetitions.com].

  • Re:Using Tiger (Score:2, Interesting)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @01:59AM (#12496308)

    Hmmm... that's rather surprising and non-Apple-like. FWIW, freetype can handle vertical subpixel AA as
    well as several different subpixel orders

    Not really suprising. Freetype2 is the *best* font rendering package available.. opensource or otherwise.

    Freetype has been ahead of Apple's system for quite a while now.

    It is ironic that after years of complaining about Linux's fonts, that Linux would have the best looking font rendering of any platform.
  • what i heard (Score:2, Interesting)

    by admactanium ( 670209 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @02:12AM (#12496362) Homepage
    from a photographer i once worked with was that the tablet was the original form factor for the newton messagepad. but the costs associated with making it in that size were prohibitive (recall the newton was already extremely expensive at he time). so they opted to go with a smaller form factor that became the newton.

    i tend to believe him because he was actually shooting a photo documentary about the invention of the newton at the time.

  • It could be (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sita ( 71217 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @04:31AM (#12496862)
    (Or, I'd wish it to be.)

    A wireless screen for the Mac mini (or other desktop). Imagine that you have a Mac with screen, keyboard and mouse on your desk. You pick up the screen, which nicely slides out of the stand that charges it, and walk away, around the office or your flat or whatever, now using the same computer as a tablet Mac. You sit down in the couch, and it is a remote control to your Airport Express.

    The screen itself has no real processing power or storage. Not more than is required to run some remote desktop client. Maybe it can serve as a remote BT hub for other peripherals (let's say a headset and a webcam, and suddenly it is a videophone).

    Maybe it can be used on its own without an owning computer, like a screen for a iPod photo or iPod video.

    Now, if they did this, a natural next would be a battery pack for the Mac mini, allowing me to have a "computer brick" in my backpack, and a really sleek tablet mac in my hand that'd punch a whole lot more power than those PC tablets.

    And no, that's not the same as a PowerBook -- anyone tried typing standing up away from a desk?

    Of course, this is all just wishful thinking, but some parts of it just might come true. Please?
  • by Aaron England ( 681534 ) on Wednesday May 11, 2005 @06:02AM (#12497088)
    Why innovate when you can just rip off Microsoft?

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein