ipad

DSActivityView updated to support multiple label lines, and demo of no label

This blog post has been replaced by a newer edition.

Please see blog posts on DejalActivityView.

DSActivityViewI've committed a minor update to the DSActivityView open source project for iOS. See the DSActivityView introductory post for more information, including a video demo.

This update adds support for splitting the label over multiple lines for the DSBezelActivityView variation. This change was contributed by Suleman Sidat. Thank you!

To use multiple lines for the label, simply include one or more \n sequences in the label text, e.g.


[DSBezelActivityView newActivityViewForView:self.view withLabel:@"Split over\nMultiple lines..."]

Similarly, to display an activity view with just the activity indicator, and no label, simply specify a blank label:


[DSBezelActivityView newActivityViewForView:self.view withLabel:@""]

DSActivityView is compatible with iOS 3.0 and later, including iOS 4 (and I believe iOS 5), on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

You can get the project from my Dejal Open Source Subversion repository via this Terminal command:


svn checkout http://dejal.svn.beanstalkapp.com/open/DSActivityView

Or browse the source directly on the web.

If you make any enhancements to DSActivityView, please contribute them back to me so I can share with other developers.

Building Universal iPad/iPhone apps

Warning, developer topic... uninterested customers can skip on to the next post....

I was having difficulty getting my new app, Tweeps, working as a universal app: running natively on both iPhone and iPad from one binary.

For some reason, I was in a Mac universal mindset. For Mac apps, a universal app uses two separate targets: one for PowerPC, one for Intel. This is necessary since they are of course very different architectures, so have to be compiled separately.

In iPhone OS, that isn't the case — both iPhone and iPad have the same processor architecture, so both editions can use the same code without needing conditional compilation.

However, there are important differences. Currently, iPhone (and iPod touch) is on iPhone OS 3.1.3, whereas iPad is on OS 3.2. The iPhone can't use OS 3.2, and iPad can't use 3.1. So extra steps are required.

The way this works is to set the Base SDK to the latest one you want to use (in this case 3.2), and the Deployment Target to the earliest you want to support (3.1). You can then use any available APIs from 3.1 and earlier with impunity, and can use APIs from 3.2 if you check that they are available before using them.

The recommended way to check for a new method is to use +instancesRespondToSelector:. For example, 3.2 renames the method to hide the status bar. So to use the new method if available, or fall back to the old method, you'd write:

    if ([UIApplication instancesRespondToSelector:@selector(setStatusBarHidden:withAnimation:)])
        [[UIApplication sharedApplication] setStatusBarHidden:hiding withAnimation:YES];
    else
        [[UIApplication sharedApplication] setStatusBarHidden:hiding animated:YES];

Sometimes, you need to take alternative code paths depending on whether you're running on iPad or iPhone. So the way to do that is:

    if (UI_USER_INTERFACE_IDIOM() == UIUserInterfaceIdiomPad)
        ...

I used the following definition to save some typing:

#define IS_IPAD        (UI_USER_INTERFACE_IDIOM() == UIUserInterfaceIdiomPad)

That's all fine and good. But things get more curly when you want to use new classes. Apple's TopPaid sample code demonstrates the best way to handle this. You can load different xibs depending on which device you're running on, to set up the root views (e.g. to use a split view or a navigation controller). Each xib would load a different controller, which would contain relevant properties for each view.

There's one final gotcha that caused me trouble recently: you have to be careful about programmatically allocating newly introduced classes. If you run and it crashes with an error like the following, this is the issue:

dyld: Symbol not found: _OBJC_CLASS_$_UIPopoverController

The solution is to use NSClassFromString to resolve the class name, like so:

    Class popoverClass = NSClassFromString(@"UIPopoverController");
   
    if (popoverClass != nil)
        popoverController = [[popoverClass alloc] initWithContentViewController:contentViewController];

What got me was that this is necessary even in code only called on iPad, which I thought counter-intuitive. But it makes sense on further reflection, as the dynamic nature of ObjC means that it wants to resolve all class references when loading the bundle on startup — it doesn't know that that code won't ever get called if the current device happens to be an iPhone.

I hope this helps others having difficulty building universal iPhone/iPad apps.

Tweeps 2.0 in the review queue!

Last night I submitted version 2.0 of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts, to Apple for review prior to appearing in the App Store. I have no idea how long it'll take Apple to review and approve it, but I'd anticipate it being available sometime next week. Follow the Dejal RSS feed or @dejal on Twitter to be notified when it is available.

In celebration of the impending Tweeps 2.0 release, I've now made Tweeps completely free! This is just for a limited time, so go get Tweeps for free now!

It's been about two months since Tweeps 1.0 was released. The 2.0 update includes a number of changes, the main one being native support for iPad, which is why I think it deserves the 2.0 designation. There are some major changes to support the extra screen space, including a sidebar / popover like the Mail app and others use, and lots of other changes.

Another big change is invisible, but essential: it now uses xAuth to authorize the accounts with Twitter. This is a more convenient variation of OAuth, which will be required for Twitter access by the end of June. Tweeps has the same convenient username and password fields as before, but now uses xAuth to log in to the Twitter service. Any Twitter clients that don't support this by the time Twitter disables the old mechanism will stop working.

This new version also includes some fixes for iPhone usage, and should be more compatible with the forthcoming OS 4.0, though some further tweaks may be needed for the final OS release. Note that it now requires a minimum of iPhone OS 3.1.

One unfortunate casualty of the xAuth change is that I had to disable the feature where you can edit your avatar image from within Tweeps. I just couldn't get it working without crashing the library used to handle OAuth. I'll restore this feature in a future update if f I can solve this issue.

I've been working on Tweeps for almost a year, though mixed with other work, so actually about three man-months of work. Still, it's been quite a sizable project, and very gratifying to achieve the 2.0 release. I have a number of ideas for improvements in future versions, if there's sufficient customer interest, though first I've got several updates of my Mac apps to do.

Anyway, get Tweeps for free now, and you'll automatically get the 2.0 update when it is available.

More Tweeps for iPad screenshots

As promised last week, here are a few more screenshots of the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

Firstly, the Find Others view in landscape. You can use it to quickly locate any Twitter user. You can search for a person's name, a company or brand name, or a username. If you know the exact username, you can prefix it with an "@" to skip the search results and go straight there. On the iPad, a "Recents" popover is displayed, that includes your recent searches, making it even easier to search for them again:

In portrait orientation, the sidebar is in a popover, like in Mail etc (here's the list of people who follow you... which may get some further improvements before release):

And lastly, another landscape view, this time the Mentions list — tweets that replied to you or mentioned your username:

Stay tuned for more screenshots next week!

Remember, you can still apply to become a Dejal beta tester to try Tweeps 2 now, or buy now to get it at the version 1 price.

Tweeps for iPad ready for beta testing

Here's an update on the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

I mentioned in my post last week that I wanted to have Tweeps 2.0 released in time for the US 3G release, which is today. I wasn't sure I'd make it, and a few days ago I decided that there wasn't enough time to do proper testing and get it through the approval process, so my new goal is to beta test it during May, and have it in the App Store for the international iPad release, around the end of May.

I know that some people will be disappointed by the delay, but I don't feel comfortable rushing it out without adequate testing. I pride myself on releasing quality products, and that's more important than an arbitrary self-imposed deadline.

But all is not lost. If you want to try Tweeps 2.0 now (on your iPad or iPhone), you're welcome to apply to become a Dejal beta tester. Tweeps is a Universal application, so works natively on both iPhone and iPad. Only a few of my existing beta testers have notified me of iPad device IDs, so I'm keen to get some more iPad testers. I'll do the first beta release once I have a few more.

As a reminder, Tweeps 2.0 will be a free update for existing customers, but will have an increased price for new purchasers. So buy now to get it at the cheaper price!

Here are a few screenshots of Tweeps on iPad. Firstly, the Profile view. Notice the sidebar providing quick access to the other views, and more spacious avatar and other info (only bug here is the count badges are truncated on the left):

In portrait orientation, the sidebar is in a popover, like in Mail etc (here's the integrated map view):

And lastly, editing the location — you can edit it here, and see the location on the map (or find your current location), or edit it on the Profile view simply as text:

Stay turned for more screenshots next week!

Apply to become a Dejal beta tester to try Tweeps 2 now, or buy now to get it at the version 1 price.

Tweeps for iPad sneak peek

I am currently working on the iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

My current goal is to have Tweeps 2.0 released in time for the US 3G release, in just over a week's time. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it, and of course that depends on a quick approval by Apple, but I'll try!

Tweeps 2.0 will be a free upgrade for existing customers. It is a Universal application, so available as one edition for both iPhone and iPad. I plan on increasing the price for new purchasers. I'm currently thinking of $4.99, with a limited-time special price of $2.99 to ease the transition. So buy now to get it at the cheaper price!

Here's a sneak peek of the current progress; the view I was working on last night: the Edit Avatar view in portrait. There are a couple of issues with this view currently, but otherwise it's fully functional:

Tweeps for iPad

I got my iPad on Saturday, and spent much of the weekend playing with it. The iPad really is a magical device — as Arthur C. Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I don't really have much to add to the numerous commentaries, reviews, and discussions on the interwebs. So suffice to say that I think it's a great device, and will only get better as OS upgrades and software updates enhance it.

Kudos to developers who provided iPad-native updates for the initial release. It takes a lot of bravery to release an app without ever trying it on a real device. For the most part, the risk paid off for them, though many of the apps have some issues, varying from UI malfunctions to crashes, which the developers are scrambling to fix.

Personally, I decided to wait for my iPad before I released Tweeps for it. Though part of that was due to a lack of time, since Tweeps 1.0 was only released a few weeks ago, then I was away on a cruise. But I think I would have been rather hesitant to do a release without live testing, even if I had enough time.

Anyway, work on the iPad edition of Tweeps is underway. It will look much like in the previously-posted mockups. I'll give my existing beta testers a first chance to try it, then will open it up to others.

One point I wanted to emphasize: Tweeps will be a Universal app — so it will run natively on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, from one app. If you've already bought Tweeps, you'll get the iPad edition for free! If you haven't bought Tweeps yet, you can get it now at the special introductory price, and will get the iPad edition at no extra cost. I'll be increasing the price soon, so don't miss the low-low price.

Here is my latest design mockup again; see the previous post for more views (click to see full-sized):

More Tweeps for iPad mockups

I previously posted some mockups of an iPad edition of Tweeps, my new iPhone OS app to easily manage Twitter accounts.

But as I said, I've been struggling with coming up with a satisfactory design. My latest thought is that I shouldn't try to emulate a physical object like a notepad or book, but would be better following Apple's example with apps like Mail, and use a split view.

So here are my latest design mockups (again done in OmniGraffle).

In landscape orientation, a split view shows a list of pages on the left, and the details on the right; in this case, the main Profile page for your own account (click to see full-sized):

In portrait, the left view appears in a "popover" instead:

I'm not sure if the Edit button should be in the left or right views... but there's more room in the right, so that seems reasonable.

Here's a sample of the Following page in landscape:

What do you think? I think this is a better design, more clean and consistent — and allows me to use much the same color theme as on the iPhone, as a minor bonus.

Tweeps for iPad mockup

Now that Tweeps is available in the iPhone App Store, I'm starting work on the iPad edition.

Obviously, the iPad has a lot more screen space than the iPhone, so a different design is needed to take full advantage of this extras space. I've been thinking about iPad design concepts ever since the iPad was announced, but have yet to come up with something that entirely satisfies me.

A difficulty with coming up with a good design is that Tweeps can show any number of levels. You start with a list of your accounts, then show your profile overview, then can show a list of people you're following (for example), then delve deeper by showing the profile overview for one of them, and their followers, and so on to any number of levels. This works fine with the navigation display in the iPhone edition, where you can keep pushing views onto the screen, but is harder with a more traditional interface.

For quite a while, I've been thinking about something like the iPad Contacts app design, with a two-page book metaphor. The idea would be to display the profile details on the left page, and the avatar, web, map, following, followers etc views on the right (one at a time). It'd then flip the page when viewing a different person's information. That seems like a reasonable approach, though the very different content displays on the right seems to break the book metaphor.

The latest idea I've been exploring is more of a notepad metaphor. The idea is a single notepad page with the profile overview, and bookmark tabs (like Post-it® flags) sticking out from the right for related pages like those listed above. So you touch a tab to flip the notepad to that page. There would also be bookmark tabs on the left side to go back to the previous profile(s) or the accounts list.

Here's a rough mockup, done in the great OmniGraffle (click to see full-sized):

Don't worry about the fine details; as I said, it's very rough.

You'd tap the Following tab on the right to flip pages to the Following view, which would be similar to that in Tweeps now, except would have room to show more information about each person:

You could then go back to the profile overview via the new tab with the avatar icon on the left, or go straight to other pages via the other tabs on the right.

If you tap a row in the Following list, it'd flip the page to the profile overview for that person, and the tabs on the right would then show more information about them.

It might look better with a black background, to merge into the iPad bezel, as follows. In which case I'd eliminate the space around the edges (still shown in this mockup), providing more room for the content:

What do you think? Would this design work, or am I on the wrong track? Should I forget about trying for a real-world look? I'd love to hear other design ideas too.

iPad includes a rotation lock switch

Like many others on the West Coast of the US, I woke up at the unreasonably early hour of 05:30 this morning to place my pre-order for the iPad. I wasn't planning on waking up so early, but my internal alarm clock had other ideas. I ordered two iPads — the Wi-Fi-only model for myself, and the 3G model for my wife. Plus most of the accessories.

Anyway, I (and others) noticed that Apple has just added more information on the iPad product pages. One change of particular interest to me is that they've changed the mute switch on the side of the iPad (above the volume rocker) to a screen rotation lock switch:

I think this is a great change. The mute switch is very useful on an iPhone, to easily switch to vibrate mode while watching movies and such, but would be much less useful on an iPad. It would be nice if they made it a setting, so people could opt to use the switch for rotation lock or mute (like the home button can be configured), but rotation lock is a more sensible default setting.

This particularly interests me as my new iPhone app, Tweeps (an app to easily manage your Twitter accounts) includes a software-based rotation lock feature, as shown in the following looping movie. I'm about to start adapting it to native iPad support, and was thinking about how I'd adapt the rotation lock feature... and now I have an answer: I should just remove it in the iPad edition. It'll still remain very useful on the iPhone edition, though.

I'm fine with that — having a system-wide setting that is easily accessible is much better than individual apps having to implement their own solutions. Though I must admit, part of me is a little sad... I'm proud of my implementation.

Followup on my tablet predictions

Last week I posted some predictions on Apple's forthcoming tablet device. I knew that I'd get some of it wrong, but felt fairly confident that I would get some things right. Let's see how I did!

Name: I think that "iTablet" is probably the most likely name, though I'd prefer simply "Tablet". "iSlate" is a popular idea, which could also work. I also like Cabel Sasser's idea of "Canvas". I doubt it'd be called "iPad" as some have suggested, as that is too close to "iPod" and would cause confusion.

Well, I was wrong on the name. I still think "iPad" is too close to "iPod", but I'm sure people will get used to carefully enunciating the device name. I don't dislike the name, other than that issue, though.

Form factor: I would expect a rectangular slab with slightly rounded corners, much like the iPhone. It would likely have a aluminum unibody back, to provide rigidity for the screen.

Yes, it has a form factor much like the iPhone, though a larger bezel around the screen than I would have expected. I haven't seen definitive info about the case material, but it sure looks like an aluminum unibody to me.

Screen: The rumors seem pretty set on a 10" color touch-screen display, and that seems entirely reasonable. That would be a good size for watching media, reading books, browsing websites, and other activities. I would expect it to be much the same as the iPhone's, with a glass front, though that'd add quite a lot fo weight. I wouldn't want to them compromise on a plastic screen, though.

Yes, it's a glass touch screen. It's actually 9.7", which is close enough. The pixel resolution is 1024 x 768 at 132 ppi, compared to iPhone's 480 x 320 at 163 ppi. Interesting that the resolution is lower, but I guess that makes sense, since you might hold it slightly further away than a phone.

Buttons: I'd expect it to have just a Home button like the iPhone, and probably a volume control and power button on the sides, again like the iPhone.

Correct: Home button, mute & volume control on the right side, and power button on top.

Connectors: A recent rumor is that the tablet will have two dock connectors (one one a short edge and one on a long edge). This makes sense, so you can dock it in either orientation. I wouldn't be surprised if it came with a more substantial dock than iPhones, to prop it up at a comfortable angle for watching movies etc, and provide support for using the device while docked. I wouldn't expect any other connectors.

Only one dock connector (unfortunately), so the iPad can only be docked in the portrait orientation. Can't believe I forgot to mention a headphone jack, though. Plus it has a built-in microphone and speakers, of course.

The dock is more substantial, plus there's a welcome addition of a dock with a built-in keyboard.

Connectivity: It'll definitely have wi-fi, and almost certainly Bluetooth connectivity. I would like an optional 3G connection as well — one device model that can be used with or without a 3G contract. I would see the tablet as most useful around the house, so I wouldn't want a mandatory 3G contract, but I can see that some people (e.g. real estate agents) would benefit from a 3G connection.

Yes, wi-fi and Bluetooth. A pleasant improvement that it supports connecting Apple's wireless keyboard via Bluetooth, too (which I think would be a better option than the keyboard dock).

The 3G connection is indeed optional, via separate models (for an extra $130). I'm very pleased about that, though the price difference seems a little high.

Sensors: The device will definitely include an accelerometer for rotation, and may include other sensors. Probably not the proximity sensor, though, since people won't be bringing the tablet to their face!

That all seems accurate. I forgot to mention the ambient light sensor, which it does still have.

It also has a digital compass, like the 3GS, though interestingly only has "assisted" GPS in the 3G model. I guess WiFi-based location would probably be accurate enough for the WiFi-only model (e.g. when taking it to a coffee shop with WiFi access).

Camera: I would expect a front-facing camera for chatting. Probably a higher resolution than the existing one in iPhones.

I was wrong on this one; there's no sign of a camera. I think that's a mistake, but perhaps one that will be addressed in a future model.

Keyboard: It will have a software-based keyboard. A 10" screen wouldn't fit a full-sized keyboard, but it'd be bigger than the iPhone's, so could be typed on with 10 fingers if you're so inclined. Having originally learnt to type on a ZX81 membrane keyboard that would be about the same size as the tablet's I know it's entirely possible to type just fine on such a size (and a smooth surface). One thing I'd like would be for the keyboard to be scaleable: pinch it to resize the keyboard to expose more or less of the app window. It'd also be nice if they supported a Bluetooth-connected keyboard (and hid the on-screen keyboard in such cases), though that would definitely be optional, and I think it not entirely likely.

Yes indeed, a software-based keyboard. The intro video showed people 10-finger typing on it. Looks like the keyboard might be more flexible than on the iPhone, with more customized buttons, though no sign of a scalable keyboard option.

But yes, they do support a Bluetooth keyboard. I'm confident that the OS will be smart enough to hide the on-screen keyboard when a Bluetooth or dock keyboard is in use.

Storage: I'd expect it to come in a couple of storage capacity sizes, probably 32 GB and 64 GB. Still built-in flash memory like the iPhone.

Yes, 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models.

Operating system: I expect the tablet to use a variation of the iPhone OS. I wouldn't be surprised if it uses iPhone OS 4.0, i.e. so the iPhone and tablet share the same OS (with device-specific features, just like between the iPhone and iPod touch). If so, I'd expect Apple to rename it as "Touch OS" or similar... which they should have done with the intro of the iPod touch anyway.

There were a lot of people expecting a full Mac OS, or a new OS X-based OS. But as I predicted, it's just the next generation of the iPhone OS. Looks like they're sticking with that name, though. Apple seems to get overly attached to names, even when they're increasing inaccurate — look at iTunes for example. Hardly all about music anymore!

Multitasking: With the larger screen and no doubt faster processor and more RAM, I'd expect the OS to support multitasking — allowing it to run multiple apps at the same time. There might be an easy way to switch running apps (e.g. press the Home button to flip through them), or it might be more transparent, simply not quitting apps when you go Home.

No sign of multitasking, unfortunately. (Though I haven't seen the SDK yet.) The OS does seem to use multiple windows within an app now, though, based on what I saw during the intro.

iPhone apps: Existing iPhone apps will probably be supported, launching into a window the same size as the iPhone screen for compatibility, perhaps with the ability to resize the window.

Very happy to be right about this one. I like the little "1x" / "2x" buttons to scale iPhone apps up to (mostly) fill the screen.

Other apps: No doubt Apple will bundle the device with new and updated apps written to leverage the larger screen. For example, the iPod and YouTube apps would play videos full-screen. There have been rumors of iWork for the tablet, which seems possible (and certainly welcome), though maybe not entirely likely.

iWork was indeed a correct rumor, and looks very nice. I'm pretty comfortable with the $9.99 price for each app, too; better than giving them away, and setting a more reasonable price than the average "ringtone" app on the App Store. I would hope that app developers will treat the more work for iPad apps as an opportunity to set more realistic prices. But we'll see.

Price: I've heard various prices suggested, as high as $1,000, but most people seem to think that $700 is the maximum it could go for. I'd hope for something around that range, or less if they can swing it. Like the iPhone, I'd expect the initial release to be priced fairly high, and for the price to drop later.

The prices did turn out to be around that range. Six models, from $499 for the base 16 GB WiFi-only model, up to $829 for the 64 GB WiFI + 3G model.

Availability: I expect Apple to announce it on Wednesday, and perhaps make a beta release of the developer SDK available at that time. It might be available for pre-order at that time, too. The tablet release will probably be around April, I would guess. Some people say March, but I don't think that would give developers enough time to update their apps or write new apps for the tablet. I wouldn't be surprised by a June release date, along with a new iPhone model and OS update for existing devices.

The developer SDK is indeed available today (I haven't had a look at it yet, but will do so shortly). The iPad isn't available for pre-order yet, but there's a form on Apple's site that implies it will be before long. The release date appears to be late March for the WiFi-only models, and April for the WiFI + 3G models.

How'd I do? Not too bad; more of my predictions were correct than incorrect. Better than a lot of people's wild notions, anyway. :)

So will I buy an iPad? Without a doubt. Which one? Probably the 64 GB WiFi-only model ($699). As I said, I don't see much use for 3G coverage for my needs, so the extra cost of a 3G model, plus the ongoing monthly costs, don't really make sense for me. But I'm glad Apple has the option for those who need it.

I can't wait to get my hands on one!

Apple tablet predictions

I thought I'd indulge in a little punditry regarding the rumored Apple tablet device, expected to be announced at the Apple event next Wednesday. This is just based on rumors I've read and my own thoughts; I don't have any inside knowledge.

  • Name: I think that "iTablet" is probably the most likely name, though I'd prefer simply "Tablet". "iSlate" is a popular idea, which could also work. I also like Cabel Sasser's idea of "Canvas". I doubt it'd be called "iPad" as some have suggested, as that is too close to "iPod" and would cause confusion.
  • Form factor: I would expect a rectangular slab with slightly rounded corners, much like the iPhone. It would likely have a aluminum unibody back, to provide rigidity for the screen.
  • Screen: The rumors seem pretty set on a 10" color touch-screen display, and that seems entirely reasonable. That would be a good size for watching media, reading books, browsing websites, and other activities. I would expect it to be much the same as the iPhone's, with a glass front, though that'd add quite a lot fo weight. I wouldn't want to them compromise on a plastic screen, though.
  • Buttons: I'd expect it to have just a Home button like the iPhone, and probably a volume control and power button on the sides, again like the iPhone.
  • Connectors: A recent rumor is that the tablet will have two dock connectors (one one a short edge and one on a long edge). This makes sense, so you can dock it in either orientation. I wouldn't be surprised if it came with a more substantial dock than iPhones, to prop it up at a comfortable angle for watching movies etc, and provide support for using the device while docked. I wouldn't expect any other connectors.
  • Connectivity: It'll definitely have wi-fi, and almost certainly Bluetooth connectivity. I would like an optional 3G connection as well — one device model that can be used with or without a 3G contract. I would see the tablet as most useful around the house, so I wouldn't want a mandatory 3G contract, but I can see that some people (e.g. real estate agents) would benefit from a 3G connection.
  • Sensors: The device will definitely include an accelerometer for rotation, and may include other sensors. Probably not the proximity sensor, though, since people won't be bringing the tablet to their face!
  • Camera: I would expect a front-facing camera for chatting. Probably a higher resolution than the existing one in iPhones.
  • Keyboard: It will have a software-based keyboard. A 10" screen wouldn't fit a full-sized keyboard, but it'd be bigger than the iPhone's, so could be typed on with 10 fingers if you're so inclined. Having originally learnt to type on a ZX81 membrane keyboard that would be about the same size as the tablet's I know it's entirely possible to type just fine on such a size (and a smooth surface). One thing I'd like would be for the keyboard to be scaleable: pinch it to resize the keyboard to expose more or less of the app window. It'd also be nice if they supported a Bluetooth-connected keyboard (and hid the on-screen keyboard in such cases), though that would definitely be optional, and I think it not entirely likely.
  • Storage: I'd expect it to come in a couple of storage capacity sizes, probably 32 GB and 64 GB. Still built-in flash memory like the iPhone.
  • Operating system: I expect the tablet to use a variation of the iPhone OS. I wouldn't be surprised if it uses iPhone OS 4.0, i.e. so the iPhone and tablet share the same OS (with device-specific features, just like between the iPhone and iPod touch). If so, I'd expect Apple to rename it as "Touch OS" or similar... which they should have done with the intro of the iPod touch anyway.
  • Multitasking: With the larger screen and no doubt faster processor and more RAM, I'd expect the OS to support multitasking — allowing it to run multiple apps at the same time. There might be an easy way to switch running apps (e.g. press the Home button to flip through them), or it might be more transparent, simply not quitting apps when you go Home.
  • iPhone apps: Existing iPhone apps will probably be supported, launching into a window the same size as the iPhone screen for compatibility, perhaps with the ability to resize the window.
  • Other apps: No doubt Apple will bundle the device with new and updated apps written to leverage the larger screen. For example, the iPod and YouTube apps would play videos full-screen. There have been rumors of iWork for the tablet, which seems possible (and certainly welcome), though maybe not entirely likely.
  • Price: I've heard various prices suggested, as high as $1,000, but most people seem to think that $700 is the maximum it could go for. I'd hope for something around that range, or less if they can swing it. Like the iPhone, I'd expect the initial release to be priced fairly high, and for the price to drop later.
  • Availability: I expect Apple to announce it on Wednesday, and perhaps make a beta release of the developer SDK available at that time. It might be available for pre-order at that time, too. The tablet release will probably be around April, I would guess. Some people say March, but I don't think that would give developers enough time to update their apps or write new apps for the tablet. I wouldn't be surprised by a June release date, along with a new iPhone model and OS update for existing devices.

That's all I can think of at the moment. It'll certainly be interesting to see how far off I am when the event rolls around. Apple has a great capacity to surprise us — nobody could have predicted how great the iPhone would be before it was released, and I don't expect to be disappointed with the tablet.

What features would it need for me to buy one? Just one: existence. As soon as Apple announces a tablet for pre-ordering, you can bet I'll be breaking out my credit card. Even if the tablet isn't a life-changing device like the iPhone, which I expect it to be, I'll want one so I can develop for it.

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