Could a Realistic Smartphone/Tablet Hybrid be in the Works?

I remember foolishly thinking at the time of the iPad release that Apple had finally gone off the deep end in terms of design. I mean, as far as I could tell they were basically trying to push what appeared to me to be a big iPhone. Of course what I didn’t anticipate was its uses as a superior e-reader, gaming platform, business and education super tool, video player, practical laptop replacement, and…well let’s just say I didn’t give the iPad and the tablet market as a whole a fair chance at first.

Still, I believe that much like that awkward time period where people still carried their MP3 players, portable gaming devices, and their new smartphones before realizing the latter’s amazing all-in-one potential, that the tablet and current smartphone technologies are sill similar enough that one day another all-in-one device is bound to come along that provides the best of both worlds for a price none of us can reasonably afford.

I’m not alone in this way of thinking either. There is even a terrible, must be changed now word for these devices. Phablets (the only word in existence that is scientifically proven to make you roll your eyes upon hearing it). One popular example of a phablet (*roll*) is the Samsung Galaxy Note. While it’s hybrid design of both devices fits the bill, it’s bulky shape doesn’t really seem to fit easily anywhere else, and it ends up coming off as a bulbous smartphone, or an undersized, underpowered tablet, depending on if you’re a glass half empty or glass half full type.

Despite the lack of overtly successful phablets (*roll*) thus far, designers still aren’t giving up on the idea. One of particular note out there is Patrick Eriksson’s flexible OLED concept design.

The idea is so simple it could have been a popular cartoon in the 80’s created to sell toys. The device starts off in its native phone format, but thanks to an ingenious flippable hideaway screen, it can be transformed, if you will, into a tablet size device in an instant. There aren’t many further details about the device at this time, other than Patrick’s partnership with Sony on the model, who would be handling manufacturing and distribution duties should the concept see its way to completion. That’s something they are no doubt hoping for, as the company could use a big win in light of their financial troubles, and weak market share across many divisions

Sony has also released a similar device before in the Tablet P, but that model, along with the similar, Kyocera Echo, suffered from some serious design flaws that made them come off as gimmicky and unpractical. This new model, however, is the first of its kind I’ve ever seen that looks like it could compently complete the bridge that spans the current tech gap between smartphone and tablet. While time and public reaction will of course ultimately tell the tale, there is no doubt that from a strict concept standpoint, this new device does finally bring into the limelight the almost inevitable conclusion that tablets and smartphones will not always co-exist as separate, economically viable entities.

Only please, somebody needs to invent a better name for these devices. Phablets (*roll*) sounds like a fan group name for high school girls who were way into “The Beatles.”

Pictured: The original line of “Phablets”


Adobe pledges Flash support for the iPad

iPad full frontal.One of the biggest complaints about the iPad, and even the iPhone, is the lack of Flash support. It’s something Apple’s been reluctant to add because of the potential for a security breach on either device. In order to be considered truly excellent browsing devices, though, I think Apple needs to find a way to make Flash work for both devices.

For now, though, Adobe is willing to take up the cause. It announced a product for developers at the end of last year that would easily convert Flash apps into something the iPhone can use. The company now says it will offer the same support for the iPad.

Here’s an excerpt from the official platform blog:

“We announced the Packager for iPhone at MAX 2009 which will allow Flash developers to create native iPhone applications and will be available in the upcoming version of Flash Pro CS5. This technology enables developers to create applications for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (though applications will not initially take direct advantage of iPad’s new screen resolution). It is our intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad.”

It’s a decent workaround, but definitely not a fix. By this method you’ll have access to the cool Flash apps available on platforms like Android, but it’s not like you’ll be watching Hulu on your iPad (unless they release a special app). Stay tuned on this one – it’s going to be a hot topic over the course of the year.


What the iPad can and can’t do

iPad shotsIf you believe what Apple tells you, the iPad is going to change the way you do just about everything. It’s the best web browser, the best movie viewer, the best way to read a book, and so on and so on. Realistically, though, it will probably change very little, at least for now.

The iPad is really just a big iPhone, albeit a very pretty, big iPhone, but not much more. It’s still lacking multitasking, which is a big deal if you’re going to use it as a productive device. Want to listen to Pandora while you’re typing out some emails? Sorry. Switch back and forth between email and a document? You’ll have to exit one to get to the other. The iPad also doesn’t have Flash support, which makes that “best browsing experience” feel like something from the dark ages. Sure you can watch your videos via apps, but that means more switching between applications.

It’s a problem of maturity for Apple’s new platform. The closed system has worked well enough for the iPhone, but we’re all sick of the restrictions on the device and the limitations of the App Store. We want Google Voice. Real Google Voice, not that web app trash. I want to use my iPad for Flash videos and watching DivX. For Ninjavideo. All of those things are limited by a platform that was designed for a mobile phone, not a web device.

For all the things the iPad can’t do, though, it can do one thing very well: evolve. The hardware is compelling enough and cheap enough to get into a lot of hands. As more people are ready to use the device, I’m willing to bet Apple will consider opening things up. If not, we’ve always got George Hotz.


The iPad is here!

Yerba Buena Apple decorations.The long wait is finally over. Today is officially tablet day, as Apple announced just moments ago. It’s an exciting day for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the way this device could shape the future of the digital word. Obviously that’s going to be a long process, but if we know anything about Apple, it won’t seem so long, and we’ll soon be wondering how we did without (don’t act like you don’t love your iPod).

Jobs kicked things off today like this: “We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical product today.” Tease of the century. He launched into a quick (thankfully) overview of the company, but it wasn’t long before we got to the meat. The iPad. That’s the official name for the long-rumored tablet device that Jobs calls “the best browsing experience you’ve ever had.”

Basically, it’s a big iPhone, with a really nice interface. The keyboard looks big enough to be typed on laptop style (Jobs demoed it this way) and it has that same great glass look that Apple is known for. For now, it runs iPhone apps, as in the apps can be downloaded as is and run either at iPhone resolution or doubled up for the iPad. There’s an SDK available for developers to get started.
The iPad.
As for hardware, there are a whole slew of options available. You can get everything from 16GB to 64GB flash storage, Wi-Fi and unlocked 3G support (yes, unlocked – thank you god), in whatever combination your heart desires. It runs on a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, so they aren’t dishing out any cash to Qualcomm for that dual-core Snapdragon. It is definitely fast enough to do some light photo/video editing on the fly, just like we would see from the iPhone. Really, though, I think I’d get the most use for watching HD video.

Of course the number we all care about is price. When Jobs said the base model would be $499 I was shocked. More shocked than by anything else about the presentation. That’s like buying an iPod. That’s…insane. You can get as high as $829 if you’ve got the highest storage level and 3G support, but for what you get that’s an amazing price in my mind.

This thing will be the topic of conversation on every blog today, including this one. More posts on iBooks and what this means for the Kindle. Check back soon.


More quotes on the tablet with Apple’s latest earnings

Cult of mac Apple tablet.We’re just a day away from getting a look at Apple’s tablet and the brass is as excited as anyone. More quotes from Jobs and his cronies have surfaced, which serve only to build the hype around still rumored device.

The quotes come from the press release regarding Apple’s Q1 earnings, a whopping $3.38b in profits. In the press release, Jobs was quoted for the following: “The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we’re really excited about.” It’s an odd thing to say about a quarter’s earnings in which the rumored device played no role. Obviously this thing is going to be big.

Apple COO Tim Cook was asked directly about the product unveiling during the earnings conference call, to which he said, “I wouldn’t want to take away your joy of surprise on Wednesday when you see our latest creation.”

The thing to take away from all of this is that Apple is excited, seriously excited from the top down, so much so that they can’t even keep from talking about it when it hasn’t been released.