Please give up on Tablet PCs – for now.

http://gizmodo.com/5514989/google-preparing-ipad-rival

Tablet format is suited to a lot of things, but it’s really not suited to what we think of today as a “PC”.

What they are suited to is computationally intense display systems. Things like web-browsing, document reading, music and video playback, etc. Maybe tweeting.

But as a display gets larger, it becomes less and less useful to have an on-screen keyboard (unless you’re going to consider using haptic feedback to help touch-typists figure out where the keyboard is).

Start with the premise: This is not your personal computer, this is an interactive display. Focus on and develop those aspects, and then worry about adding a virtual keyboard to let me get fancy.

For example: A tablet is great for catching up on email, if you assume that I am going to mark out emails that need my attention to be dealt with later on from a PC, only writing replies with the tablet as a last resort.

2 Comments

Heck why wouldnt you build a virtual keyboard into a tablet? I wouldnt ever consider buying one unless it was a feature.Not just for emails, which I would love to be able to knock out while drinking a cup of coffee between errands at the local cafe (and which the iPhone is too difficult to comfortably do), but blog posts, online bill paying, ect. For the very reason laptops are such a pain in the ass to just pop out for a few minutes at your local Starbucks, iPads are a perfect evolution from full laptop to net book to tablet.

Oh, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have a virtual keyboard; I’m saying that they should develop as though there won’t be a virtual keyboard on every device, so that everything is designed around the chance there won’t be one.

The aim is to complete the mental/philosophical transition from “PC on a screen” to a “display device with PC-like capabilities”. Which means changing how you design the software, rather than just saying “we’ll throw up the virtual keyboard” at every hurdle.

I have an Android phone and so many of the apps are clearly written in a PC mindset because at the drop of a hat, up pops the virtual keyboard, and often it is quite unnecessary.

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