I'm not a big fan of small tablets. OK, let me correct that: I hate small tablets. This weekend I attempted once again to fire up my Kindle Fire as the iPad was in use by another member of the family.
It took all my self control to not throw the things across the room.
The problem was that what I wanted to do on the Kindle Fire was not what it is good at. While watching video and reading books is a good experience on the small tablet, browsing and productivity is terrible. There is a good reason they don't make 7-inch iMacs.
So the mini iPad event tomorrow would be of no interest to me if Apple only launched a small tablet and called it a day.
Rumors have been around for over two years that Apple would launch a small tablet. I said it wouldn't happen simply because Steve Jobs said it wouldn't. That was good enough for me. But I also believed then, and do today, that a small tablet is not as good a palette for publishers. My opinion has evolved on that point, though I still prefer a larger sized display for newspapers and magazine.
I owned an early edition of the Kindle reader and thought it a good product – though I will admit that I rarely used it. (TNM had a Kindle edition for a while but it was pulled as readers did not flock to it.)
That Kindle was turned in for a Kindle Fire and, frankly, I regret the decision. But I do admit that a 7-inch tablet is a good size for reading some eBooks, especially ones without much or any interactivity.
The tech and rumor sites have taken a single instance of a French book containing a reference to iBooks 3.0 to mean that a new version of the book software will be released. It's not a stretch, I could have told them that the next version of iBooks, currently at iBooks 2, would be iBooks 3. I mean, it doesn't take a genius, does it?
Apple launched iBooks 2 and its iBooks Author program in January of this year. Since then Apple has only released one update for iBooks Author. Apple latest update for the iBooks app came last month in order to make the app iOS 6 compliant. Otherwise, Apple hasn't done that much with the programs. It's time for an update.
I think I care more about iBooks Author than I do any new tablet. For instance, if Apple were to launch a new tablet and NOT update iBooks Author, it would mean that Apple doesn't see its new tablet as a home for interactive textbooks – that seems impossible to me.
Currently, iBooks Author can not create an eBook that can be read on an iPhone. When I write that I almost can not believe it myself. It seems so unlike Apple. They won't make the same mistake again, will they?
Another rumor concerning iBooks is that the program could be coming, in some ways, to the Apple TV. I find it a bit hard to believe that Apple sees people reading books on their flatscreens, but the ability to display elements contained inside an interactive eBook on a TV seems a logical extension of Apple's goals for education.
Currently, if you want to display a page inside an iBook on a TV one would have to mirror the display of the iPad. It's not difficult and works to a certain degree. But there are better ways to use a television in education.
There is still a long list of things we are expecting from Apple that continue to allude us: opening up the Apple TV to third party apps, a magazine or newspaper authoring system along the lines of iBooks Author, extending iBooks Author to the iPhone, multiple accounts on iOS devices, etc.
We'll see tomorrow what Apple has for publishers other than simply throwing another small tablet at the market.