There are some products I would like to see from Apple that are “variations on a theme”. I’m not looking for net-new, I’m looking for “different”. These are based partly on simple “I want it” and some on the changing ways in which I’m using my existing Apple products.
The advent of the iPad has changed the role of my iPhone. Prior the iPad, my iPhone was a secondary general-purpose computing device. I used it for news, games, some web browsing and other tasks, along with the usual e-mail, voice mail and phone calls. However, I do a lot of those on the iPad now. I rarely use my iPhone for much beyond checking my e-mail and making calls. It has, though, seen more frequent use as a personal WiFi hotspot for my other devices. There are days where what I miss is my old Motorola Razr. Small, good battery life and reasonably durable. I wouldn’t mind a smaller iPhone, something that is primarily about basic communications, with some limited app use. That isn’t to say my current iPhone is a brick. But something a bit smaller would be welcome.
I like my iPad. I use it a lot. I find I prefer it for most e-mail, web browsing, news and information, and entertainment both on the go and around the house. But, there are days where I would like a smaller one, something in the 6″ range (more in line with the original Samsung Galaxy Tab). For reading books, a smaller size would be more comfortable. Smaller would make it a bit more portable. Smaller would also make it easier to place in my car to use it as a personal navigation device (PND). My iPhone is certainly good as a PND, but the screen is a bit on the small side for navigation. I’ve used the iPhone for navigation a few times, but a larger screen would make the map more useful, and make it easier to tap on controls while the car is moving.
An iPad with GPS But Not 3G
I would like an iPad that features a GPS receiver, but doesn’t include 3G data. Why? Well, I can use my iPhone to provide the iPad with wireless data access on the go. But I would like to have the same GPS receiver that I have in my iPad 3G today for navigation and location services. There is supposed to be a way to get GPS data from the iPhone to an iPad, but from what I read, the refresh rate is pretty slow (something like every 10 seconds or so, and not the per-second or faster updates the built-in GPS provides). A slow refresh rate may not be a big deal if you are walking, but when driving, a higher refresh rate is essential.
A Larger MacBook Air
I do most of my work on the go on a 17″ MacBook Pro. While the thing isn’t exactly gigantic, physically, I would still like something much thinner and lighter, along the lines of the MacBook Air. Even a 15″ model would be great, as long as there are lots of pixels on the screen. Building iOS apps is more comfortable when you have lots of screen real estate (and the same can be said for working in Eclipse with Java). One of the tricks with a MacBook Air/Pro machine, though, is storage. For some of what I do, even 512GB isn’t really enough. It will certainly do, but more would be appreciated. Storage less than 512GB wouldn’t work for me. The other issue would be the processor and graphics: yes, I do need 4-cores (more would be better) for some of what I do, and I do need the dedicated GPU. An integrated GPU isn’t always enough.
My Vision of Apple Product Lines
So, with some of my ideas in mind, what could some Apple product lines look like?
For tablets, I would see a family of three: the iPad Nano (basically, rename the iPod Touch), the iPad Mini (a 6″ model) and the iPad (the current 10″ model).
For iPhones, I could see two: an iPhone Nano (maybe 20-25% smaller than the current iPhone) and the iPhone
For MacBooks: MacBook Air in 11″, 13″, 15″ and 17″ models. Maybe even bring back the PowerBook name. I liked that one.