I’ve long been reticent to jump on the Applet tablet bandwagon because of a fatal flaw in the overall concept: key input. An onscreen keyboard doesn’t make sense: one-finger typing is too slow and the device is too big to be held for two-thumb typing. That leaves 10-finger laptop-style typing, but that requires the device sit in your lap with the screen tilted away from you, plus it provides no touch feedback. So you end up with either an iPhone-like slow input device without the portability, or an unfriendly keyboard that is no more portable than a laptop. Without a revolutionary advancement in key input, in my opinion this device is DOA.
But Apple isn’t likely to release a device with such a tragic flaw (are they?) so I think it’s a good bet they’ll revolutionize key input with the tablet. Which leads to the obvious question: how? The requirements are: you need to be able to give key input while standing up and cradling the device in one arm, and it must be relatively fast — fast enough to do creative writing, for example. Given that I see two options: handwriting or speech dictation. And speech dictation is out because no one wants a world filled with Macheads talking to their computers on public transportation, least of all Apple.
So that leaves handwriting recognition via stylus. Of course this has been tried before and failed, but Apple’s mechanism will differ in two key respects: 1) it will be really accurate, and 2) you will be able to write with the heel of your palm resting on the touch surface. (Ah, the beauty of multitouch.) So it will be just like writing on a pad of paper — without the ink smears.
So there’s my big tablet prediction. Can’t wait to see how wrong I am.