it's the software not the tablet

it’s oddly boring watching everyone raw-rawing the tablets. but so far nobody has shown the magical thing missing from them. you see, you simple can’t take desktop functions, lose the mouse and the keyboard and expect it to be great. it can never be. repurposing is not the answer.

it’s the software. it’s always been about the software. if you go back in to time and look at the “Digital Lifestyle” video you will instantly see this. the idea is simple. that is do things that are hard, heavy lifting tasks and make them mundane. computers got popular with writing, calculating and presenting words and numbers. this was what computers did all through the 80’s and 90’s for the most part.

today we have cameras that do video and stills. editing either used to be a chore. mostly because images take a lots of disk space and video takes even more. on top of that the colors that a computer could show were limited by the display. today my iPhone can capture video streaming it to a web server without me thinking about it. and my iPod nano can capture video and it’s just one more step to get it shared. these things used to take hours to accomplish, you had to have some skills, and it certainly wasn’t cheap.

the point about this is that video and audio is now just part of the conversation the same way that using a werp, calculator and projector moved from their techie roots. you plug in your camera to your Mac and it asks “want me to move those photos?” when I first saw this happen the world changed. the same way it changed when I clicked on “make photo book”, arranged, cropped, uploaded and clicked buy. the same way it changed when video was “just there” in the Twitter feed.

so when you think about what’s next you see that it’s not a hardware problem to solve. hardware is not the problem. the iPod Touch is a great example of modern marvel. there isn’t much to it. it’s mostly screen and battery. the CPU and memory make up about 10% of it’s mass. so scaling an iPod to bigger means that you have room for a way bigger battery, better camera(s) and screen that has room to do more than just tap, tap with your thumbs. and this is the secret to making this awesome.

but what awesome is it going to be?

what do I need to do that my iPhone and more importantly my Mac can already do? start looking at iLife for starters. if it only did that it would be interesting. edit video, edit, sort, tag and share pictures, manage music.

except you have to take things away so it’s not just the iLife experience we already know. the first thing to take away is what iPhone did: take away the file system. I don’t really need to know where my music, pictures and books are on the device. I need access to them to be sure but there are better ways to display content then a directory of files. I don’t find a picture by searching for IMG_7083.JPG because that has no meaning. I certainly know what it looks like, when I took it or where I took it. finding that one shot among 1000’s of pictures can happen very quickly when you do a visual-spatial search. a huger problem to solve will be with ingesting media. there are no good ways to get pictures and video from a camera to storage other than a computer.

so now you can imagine how iLife makes sense. how that thought and tools that we haven’t thought of are what becomes the killer “slate”. speaking of slate. slate was how kids used to learn to write. it wasn’t paper. it was a tablet that used chalk.

so lets add—”and do classes” to one of the things the tablet does really well.

we have loads of music. related but not the same are classes on any subject in audio and video. the Album format that was recently introduced could also be a way to deliver courseware. it’s not a jump to see that iWork is what makes this happen. it’s not that big of a jump in the changes to the tools needed to make them perfect for class creation. these tools might not run on a tablet but they certainly can play the content there.