If you need to know what’s really important in a tablet design, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve done a LOT of research. In this article I pull all that knowledge together in a huge list of tablet improvements, based on the good old Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The iPad and Galaxy Tab were great, great examples of early consumer tablets in the market and for me the quality and mobility of the Galaxy Tab meant that it worked well in my family of devices. I’ve used it for over 3 years and in in the early monthf of ownership I compiled a list of issues and improvements. The list applies to other tablets too so if you’re designing or buying tablets for the market, this is the sort of list you should already have on your whiteboard. If not, take this one and make it better.
The list is over 50 items long and is split into three sections. Changes that could be made to the current Galaxy Tab are listed first and this is a good place to scan through if you’re looking to buy a Galaxy Tab. The second section includes what I would call reasonable hardware expectations for second-gen or late 2011 high-quality tablet. I don’t expect all of these features to be included but it’s a list of possible improvements. The third section is a little way-out there and includes hardware changes that may not be possible this year or could be too niche. I did have a section including third party software but that list got very long indeed and is not really relevant here.
IMPORTANT: There’s more to be added to this list and a great discussion about tablets to be had here. Chip-in with your thoughts too. You’ll have ideas that no-one has through of yet so don’t be afraid to dump them in the comments below. If it’s not too wild (lets keep it within a 2-year timeframe) i’ll add it to the list and credit you.
Software and experience changes
- Web browser. Faster, mouse/finger over. Higher quality. Plugins. Password sync. Common gestures.
- Better protection of UI experience under load. (Run UI in separate core? Possible hardware change required for that.)
- Improve UI physics. Response rate needs to be 20ms or less. (I believe from my audio work in the past that 20ms is where delays become noticeable. I could be wrong but you know what I’m getting at right?) Try a drum-machine programme, It’s impossible. (Android 2.3 bring in features that can improve this through the use of the NDK)
- DLNA improvements. (Receivers and senders need to improve compatibility.)
- Protect the audio playback from stutters in multitasking scenarios. Critical. (How about a ‘dedicated’ mode where the application is brought to ‘realtime’ status, in effect, like iOS does.
- Vastly improved audio library features. playlist import/export, cross-fading, id3 tag editing, jukebox mode, cover retrieval, radio streams, integration with Last.fm amd similar services. Much quicker media scanning.
- Easier way to auto-organise applications list. Sort-by: most used, alphabetical, recently added, categorise (based on market categorisation) Apps list is as important as an audio catalogue. Genres, personal ratings on client should feed back to Market.There are a ton of improvements that can be made here.
- Samsung apps style improvements. Lose the wood-grain effect or allow theaming! Some feature improvements are also possible.
- More video content to buy / stream. Major issue outside the U.S.
- Full BT 3.0 (wifi TX support, near-field pairing)
- Longer battery life (of course!) Important – battery save mode that schedules network usage. Significant improvements will require hardware changes.
- More tablet / pro apps to be included via the Samsung catalogue
- Better gallery with sort, date search, rename, tagging, face detection etc. Stock Gallery is very limited.
- Better printing support. Google Cloud Print service should fix this.
- Apt-x codec support over BT A2DP. (Or some other HQ wireless audio transmission capability)
- SMS remote kill feature
- Compatibility with camera applications
- Timed profiles, turn to silence.
- Improve speed of re-scanning WiFi access points. Can be extremely slow in some situations.
- Occasionally boot-up time can run into 2 minutes or more. This needs to be improved
- Hot-swap SIM cards (where applicable)
- Slippery when dry. The smooth, easy wipe finish needs a couple of high-friction areas for book-reading
- AC3 and DTS soundtrack handling. (Down-sampling to 2-channel and pass-through for HDMI)
- Lower the lowest screen brightness (for in-bed, next-to-partner usage.)
Essential Hardware changes:
- Longer charger cable (and micro-usb port)
- Camera Quality: Glass lens, better sensor, continuous AF when recording video. Lens cover. Flash options. HD recording.
- Camera shutter release button
- Fm receiver + transmitter
- USB OTG support for external storage, keyboard, mouse, other peripherals (midi, dvb-t, external cam)
- Better GPS. Sensitivity, speed.
- Analogue video out built-in. Is that old-school? E.G. VGA, S-Video, Composite
- HDMI-out port.
- Storage improvements. Speed of core storage needs improving. 32GB, 64GB option.
- Indicator lamps – multiple for use with different applications. Programmable colour.
- indicators and alerts need to feed to paired Android phones.
- Replaceable battery
- SDXC card compatibility
- Higher quality screen (at same or lower power utilisation.)
For the ultimate tablet:
- Digital radio reception. DAB (Update: and other standards)
- Digital TV reception. DVB (Update: and other standards)
- Digitiser for graphics and handwriting input.
- HQ audio recording. External mic over BT? Array mics.
- Near field payments support (Probably best on a phone tho)
- Daylight readable screen (transflective)
- Quick Fingerprint reader for security.
- Midi support (be a midi sequencer/controller)
- HQ Audio synthesiser and audio effect support in hardware. (for use as effects unit)
- Built-in mini projector
- Remote mini handset accessory for using tablet as a phone. (Over BT with address book, dialling, voice dialling, CLI
- Screen extension (slide-able, removable)
- PVR facility and dock. (hardware video encoding – 720p)
- Wi-Di and wireless audio over Wifi
- Rear panel controls and gestures area.
- Glasses-free 3D (plus content)
…and lastly. Lets have a penta-boot system with Windows, Android, MeeGo, Ubuntu and WebOS!
Update: Reader contributions
- Better device security including encryption of sensitive information (BryanB – via comment below)
- Good design and implementation of user interface frameworks and the design/implementation of the applications. Really poorly coded application user interfaces can use all the CPU available. [Chippy: I think that’s really part of the Android framework though.] (Sam – via comment)
- Samsung Keyboard Editor – (Max – via comment)
- A hinged back cover with a kick-stand that would allow easy battery replacement, SSD upgrades, and safe storage of extra SDHC cards. (jjsjjsva via comment) [Chippy: I love that SDHC storage area idea. That’s a winner!]