Apple is working on a tablet computer that could be announced early next year.
Apple chief Steve Jobs has been “pouring almost all of his attention” into the device, the WSJ reported earlier this year.
What will it look like?
That’s one of the great unanswered questions in technology right now: Only a select group of designers, engineers, and executives at Apple and its partners know for sure. (And depending if and when it’s released, many things could still change between now and then.)
In the meantime, many gadget enthusiasts and illustrators have published concept sketches of what they think the Apple tablet could look like. Not surprisingly, many of the concept design cues come from Apple’s existing gadget lines: The iPhone and Mac.
Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch are the most obvious design inspirations because they are already Apple tablet computers, just smaller than the 10-or-so-inch screen that the larger tablet will reportedly include. Many concept designs use the iPhone’s curved sides, silver display border, “home” button, and software interface.
That seems like a good start. If the tablet is designed for what we think it’s designed for — browsing the Web, reading e-books and e-magazines, watching movies and TV shows, playing games — it makes sense to basically take the iPhone and stretch it. The physical structure would probably be quite similar, with a larger battery to power the screen for longer periods.
Perhaps the best tablet mockup we’ve seen so far is by Gizmodo‘s Jesus Diaz. It’s basically an iPod touch the size of a paperback book, featuring a “dock” of apps at the bottom of the screen. With a glossy screen and sleek bezel, it looks like it could be close. (Click here to see it.)
Meanwhile, other concept illustrations take more direct cues from Apple’s Mac line, including straighter edges, brushed aluminium, more Mac-like software, and more ports for other input devices.
This makes some sense, too. If the tablet is designed to be more Mac-like than iPod-like — potentially capable of running Mac apps, using a mouse and keyboard, running disc media, and much more expensive than the iPhone or iPod, it may be part of the Mac family, and therefore could take more design cues from the iMac and MacBook series than the iPod.
What will the final tablet look like? We’ll find out next year if we ever find out at all. In the meantime, we can guess…
(Did you design this? Email us for the correct credit.)