Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A few new features I'd like to see included on the iPad 2; Best Buy inventory system hows first gen iPad 'deleted'

Tomorrow Apple's COO Tim Cook will unveil to the world the second generation of the company's popular tablet, the iPad. As I've already written in today's Morning Brief, there are not expected to be too many surprises. But if there are a few, as a media guy this is what I would want them to be:

Media = sound

One smart move by Motorola was to include stereo speakers with their first generation XOOM. By building their tablet to be more at home in landscape, and with the inclusion of stereo speakers, Motorola was basically saying that their tablet is perfect for watching media, especially modern films. They are right, though the included speakers are nothing to write home about.
Apple includes decent speakers on its iOS products. Knowing that most users listen to music using either the headphone jack, through streaming or the dock connector port, the speaker is almost an after thought. But Apple has has made sure that the volume is sufficient for those rare occasions when you simply can not be on headphones.

If Apple sticks with their mono speaker arrangement competitors will certainly have an opening.

Streaming, streaming, streaming

This might be addressed tomorrow: the ability of third party developers to include Apple TV streaming in their apps. This is supposed to be included in iOS 4.3 and it is possible that the new version of the mobile operating system could be launched tomorrow, and many developers are getting ready.

The screen capture above shows a New York Times video from their iPad app that allows the audio to stream to my Airport Express -- not very useful. Right now, the only apps that can take advantage of video streaming are a few Apple apps. Meanwhile, the Apple TV already has Netflix and YouTube built-in.

But the inclusion of third party streaming makes any media app a television app. Magazine and newspaper apps suddenly have access to living room HDTVs, as would game developers. Let's get this rolling asap.

A new, customizable home screen

If there was one area where the Android driven Motorola XOOM made Apple's iOS driven iPad look dated it was the home screen -- that first page you see when you awaken your tablet. (I'm not talking about the lock screen.)

After working with the XOOM for quite a long time at my local Verizon store, I went to the iPad display. From across the room one could see the familiar screen of the iPad: a collection of icons cluttering up the home screen.

Now this is a tough call, I get that users want instant access to certain apps. And the model used by Android sometimes feels like a leftover of PC days: the start-up button, the application folder, and all that baggage. But there is something to be said about that attractive home screen (imo).

The Home button, keep it

I might be in the minority here, but the fact that the iPhone and iPad have just one button is a major selling point -- it shows the ease of use, the simplicity of design, elegance.

Don't dump it. But if you want to include another way to do the same thing, through a gesture, for instance, OK, I can accept that.

Macrumors is reporting that Best Buy's inventory system is showing that the existing iPad has been deleted. This would probably mean that 1) the new iPad will be available immediately, either for instant pre-ordering, or else instantly available; or 2) somebody at Best Buy can't type. We'll know tomorrow.

By the way, I don't provide direct links to Macrumors. The site banned me months ago for including links to both my own stories as well as links to other media sites. They don't like that, takes traffic from Macrumors.