The most tantalizing and attractive possibility I could come up with was the introduction of a touch-feedback technology for the iPad’s display.
Wild speculation possibly, but this last minute rumour about the iPad 3 launch, expected to come later today at Apple’s media conference, could be the significant new feature that gets everyone excited. The idea of having some tactile feedback from the touch surface itself would be a real innovation, and yet another sign that Apple is still well ahead of the competition – if it’s true.
Whilst it would be easy to dismiss it as a gimmick, it may well prove to be a worthwhile addition for a touch based device. Only earlier today I was playing with the VoiceOver feature in the iPhone and concluded that it seemed very crufty – because if you can see which button you are pressing, you can probably ready the labels and therefore not need the VoiceOver spoken explanation (which by the way is poorly implemented in many apps, Apple’s included). The idea that you could feel where the buttons are, and indeed even have different sensations depending on the buttons purpose would be a significant advantage to people with visual impairment.
But aside from an assistive technology, the possibilities for other more conventional uses, particularly in gaming, might be considerable.
If the publicity image for the launch is anything to go by, the major advancements for the iPad might be the much heralded ‘retina’ display, and touch feedback.
Only time will tell, and we’ll all find out in about 4 hours time!
The only thing that I want to see, aside from the above, is a reworking of the multitasking support in iOS. it’s the thing that creates the most friction for me when using the device, as apps steal resources that should be devoted to the user experience. I often see lag in UI evens not getting processed in a timely fashion, such as keys not being registered as they are pressed, because either a background apps is blocking the OS or the OS itself is doing some internal juggling. Also, apps failing to provide notification that things are in progress, although that is often a failure of the app, not the device, but is hampered by the unpredictability created by allowing more than one process to use resources. Faster processors and more memory help in this area, but it’s a crutch for a poor implementation of multitasking.