Erica Ogg over at CNET raises the interesting idea that newly touted features in Snow Leopard and the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 update both hint at an Apple tablet. Ogg points out that many of the new user interface features from Apple work to minimize the number of requisite mouse clicks and/or keyboard strokes.
As an example, she brings up Snow Leopard’s ability to launch Expose from the dock by simply clicking and holding the mouse over an app. That type of functionality, in tablet form, would eliminate the need for a specific multi-touch gesture to bring up Expose. Assuming that Apple’s tablet, if ever released, will sport a dock of some sort, tapping and holding an app to launch Expose would be a great and intuitive way of keeping track of a large number of open windows.
Ogg also brings up the fact that Stacks in Snow Leopard are now scrollable, an important feature “if you’re browsing with just a finger on a touch-sensitive surface.” Ogg goes on to point out that the new iPhone 3G S will support rudimentary video editing, all done via multi-touch gestures. Lastly, Ogg writes of freehand drawing support via Apple’s multi-touch trackpads.
Apple said Snow Leopard will allow users to draw Chinese characters freehand onto a Mac notebook track pad, and the OS will predict characters for faster writing. This feature could clearly transfer from trackpad input to direct onscreen input if Apple engineers wanted. They already have a similar feature in the iPhone for Chinese characters based on the technology from Hanwang.
While all of the above might well be clues that suggest a tablet is on its way, it’s equally as likely that they’re just regular UI tweaks looked at from an Apple tablet perspective. Less mouse clicks for an app are imperative for a tablet, but they’re useful for desktops and notebooks as well.
You can check out Ogg’s full take on things over here. It’s definitely some interesting food for thought.