Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
IPad Event Confirmed: Apple Invites Press to 'Touch' Something (mashable.com)
104 points by vinothgopi on Feb 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

<grouch>An announcement that the announcement is next week is of interest to hackers without being even remotely something that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.</grounch>

That being said... No doubt 99% of the comments will be repeating the same speculation, leaks, and purported confirmations going around for the last month. I’m interested in the remaining 1%: How will this “change everything?” What markets could this disrupt? What (if any) new kinds of software would a retina display (for example) make possible that were non-starters on an iPad 2?

Apple is the most valuable company in the entire US economy, sets hardware and software trends for our industry, and is interesting to the broader news media for their brand value and widespread products people use every day.

Everything they do is relevant in some way, and there's nothing wrong with covering them in a one-line story on a software discussion site like this.

It's "industry news" rather than something that "gratifies one's intellectual curiosity".

Although "News" is in its name, I think HN would be far more interesting without it. News includes industry gossip - and HN has more and more of that. And pg's guidelines don't actually mention news. http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html Certainly, the iPad 3 is covered on TV news.

Don't get me wrong: I'm interested in it, but I can get this news everywhere. e.g. http://www.reddit.com/r/apple

I imagine Siri will make the cut - to the extent that the iPad is a home computer replacement device, having intelligent voice control on your principle computer is indeed a paradigm shift for the mass market.

Totally - Wait till we have a wifi device that we can attach to things (ala X10) that will accept commands from Siri.

"Siri, turn on the bedroom lights"

"Siri, set the oven to 400 degrees"

"Siri, put on HBO at 9:30pm tonight"

"Siri, set the temp to 70 degrees"

THIS is what I want.

Shit - who on HN wants to work on this?

The moment that Apple releases a decent Siri API is the moment I hack something to work with my existing X10 system.

> <grouch>An announcement that the announcement is next week is of interest to hackers without being even remotely something that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.</grounch>

I expect so much better from you, sir raganwald.

This is a reply to you but it's addressed to HN's growing number of pedantic, obnoxious content police at large. At the time of this posting, 38 people disagree with your assessment. You've got the flag tool to register your opinion.

What is contributed to the discussion by griping about content the community obviously believes is worthy of the front page? Who benefits from this?

From a completely practical perspective, this particular post is useful because it suggests very strongly that the Retina display rumors are true. For those who are building content for iOS, the head-start on getting iPad Retina graphics ready is likely much appreciated. (It certainly is by me.)

For those who are building content for iOS, the head-start on getting iPad Retina graphics ready is likely much appreciated. (It certainly is by me.)

That was precisely what I was looking for. As you can see from my comment, after grouching, I got down to business and appealed for something interesting in the way of commentary.

As a general rule, if you can read it in the general media, it doesn’t belong here. If you can read the post in the general media but the comments here have a unique perspective, that’s a worthy exception. If you can read it in the general media and the comments here are indistinguishable from comments everywhere else, I would absolutely flag the post.

My comment was intended to inspire us to avoid the trap of rehashing the same things that have already whizzed through the blogosphere and twitterverse 42 times in quick succession.

While the announcement may not belong here the interesting, informed discussion that will hopefully accompany it surely does.

I certainly have nowhere else to discuss this announcement sensibly and in depth.

It would be a lot easier to discuss the announcement after the announcement.

Indeed, although I was referring to the announcement of the announcement.

Is there anything wrong with a little speculation beforehand? While not exactly 'science' this kind of discussion does allow us to test our prediction skills, debate our understanding of our industry, exchange ideas on related topics and come up with interesting (and sometimes inspiring) insight about where our industry is going.

After all, the iPad 3 has the potential to effect (in both positive and negative ways) every startup associated to HN.

How will this “change everything?” What markets could this disrupt?

Not change so much, but if 'touch' refers to some sort of localized haptic feedback mechanism (eg you can close your eyes and feel the position of individual icons/controls as if the screen were slightly bumpy) then it will cement the iPad's dominance as a musical performance tool. Imagine, for example, being able to strum a virtual guitar and feel approximately where the strings are, rather than receiving different messages from your fingers and your eyes. It doesn't have to be perfect, just suggestive and consistent, which will provide enough novelty to keep people busy until the iPad 4 appears :-)

I have a strong hunch that that Apple has stolen a march on the competition here. When I first picked up an iPad, one thing I looked at was some sort of space shooter game (Galaxy on Fire or something). I played for 2 or 3 minutes, and was impressed by both the graphics and the vibration every time my ship took a hit, like the controller for a videogame console. Later I got an Android Honeycomb tablet, and one day I noticed the same game was available, so I installed it. Everything was fine, except that there was no vibration. It seems that since large tablets are not phones, few, if any, manufacturers saw a need to include a vibration feature and so Apple has had several years to develop both the technology and a coherent set of UI conventions to employ it.

I know virtually nothing about haptic technology, but I have a guess about how it might work. Imagine two vibrating motors at right angles to each other, whose periods are fixed and proportional to the ratio of the device's width:height. Now imagine a second motor for each of the pair, which vibrates at up to double the speed of the first; by varying the speed of the second motor in each of 2 dimensions, interference patterns are created in similar fashion to the beating that occurs between two sine waves of different frequencies. Where the periods of sinusoidal sound waves stand in neat integer relationships to each other, you get the familiar notes of the musical scale (warning: drastic oversimplification of musical tuning theory). I speculate that people are so intuitively used to this - sound being just a more sensitive version of touch - that it may allow a tactile illusion of up to 12 identifiable 'zones' in each screen dimension, resulting in a grid of up to 144 'touxels'.

If I turn out to be more than half-right about this, then I feel it ought to be worth some sort of nominally compensated blue-sky consulting gig :-)

EDIT: of course you could go on and on with the other applications. A lightweight keyboard for blind people, new models of games interaction, interactive multidimensional graphing/modelling tools where constraints are proxied by 'resistance' and so on.

I'm not sure about the haptic feedback rumors. Apple doesn't have a strong history with risky, new, experimental technology. I think their style is more that of waiting for a technology to mature a bit before integrating it thoughtfully into their product.

If you look at products like iPhone or iPad for example, most of their features had a first, proof of concept not-too-usable bare-bones implementation on other systems years ago (iCloud, Facetime, Siri, App store, iTunes, pre-iPhone touch screen devices that almost worked... ). This has lead many to complain that Apple unjustly implies that they invented these. What they often do instead, is take existing technologies and add Apple magic sauce to make it "just work". That's what they are good at.

I just don't see them releasing something experimental that has even a small chance of not working as advertised.

EDIT: As linked below, http://senseg.com/ seems to suggest that this technology is more mature than I've anticipated. Still, if this at least half works I'd first expect to see it first on an Android tablet and a year later on an iPad.

Apple was essentially the first mover (by which I mean, the first to package the new tech in a viable consumer-focused product) with multitouch gestures, which we saw first on Apple and then a year or so later on Android. Apple also led with the mouse and with various screen technologies. Haptics aren't brand new any more than multitouch was; it does seem plausible they might do something with haptic stuff, and it would seem to explain that teaser.

The main things that we've seen on other platforms which Apple might conceivably copy are wireless charging systems (like WebOS had) or handling NFC payments (like a few Android phones had)

" Apple doesn't have a strong history with risky, new, experimental technology."

except GUI's, The Mouse, Click Wheels, Multitouch Screens, Thunderbolt, Firewire, Laser Printers, SIRI and Personal Computers.

in related news:

iPad 3 Event Announcement Propels Apple market cap to half a trillion dollars


textbooks - this was a flaw in the kindle for technical books, and Apple has a textbook business in place

consoles - although we might need to wait for the next generation for matching GPU power

From a consumer point it won't change anything except that a bunch of people will throw their money at Apple just to satisfy their latest consumer fix. The Apple evangelists will hallelujah for a few weeks about the retina display or whatever the new life-changing feature is.

A more pertinent discussion is on how Apple manages to whip up the media into a frenzy before each one of these iterative product launches that if coming from any other company would be an absolute snooze-fest. They certainly perfected the art of conjuring up some sexy behind normally nerdy events.

Apple gets attention for their events mainly by not squandering their goodwill - they don't have an event unless there's something significant (and of visual interest) to show. When they have such an event the pitch has been polished to perfection; they always have a coherent story to tell, something to demo that will ship soon, and a few interesting surprises. And they don't waste anybody's time on platitudes.

If Apple ever got in the habit of giving demos that weren't legitimately newsworthy, they'd stop getting news coverage.

Fair point, their announcements are like clockwork and always involve a major product release.

But at the end of the day isn't it just another gadget? Smartphones and tablets have been mainstream for a few years now and can you honestly say that our lives are so drastically different/better in any meaningful way? They do have a large amount of goodwill coming from their customer but they don't create that goodwill by building anything significantly different from all the other hardware manufacturers. They do it by packaging it very nicely and making the keynotes into events that are very consumable by the media as well as Joe Shmoe the consumer.

It certainly doesn't hurt that these events don't have to appeal to h/w distributors at all since Apple has all the distribution channels by the balls way before their products are even announced.

Apple market cap now same as entire retail sector. Thoughts?


the word "touch" makes me think of this...


I thought the same thing. There is real innovation in tablet computing available through this avenue.

The current haptic feedback that some devices offer is really inadequate. To give you actual controls that you can feel would be a leap forward.

Also, if you think about the way Apple typically does these things, it would be a huge advantage if they got there first. Apple has a tendency to buy years worth of production from a given vendor, if they could tie up access to this technology for a year or two while production ramps to accomodate demand, they could gain a huge lead (well, larger than they already have).

Proper haptic feedback would be huge. This might also help to explain the leaked pictures where the new iPad is thicker than iPad 2.

The one thing that makes me doubt this will happen is that the senseg system uses a plastic film over the surface, and there's no way Apple are going to put plastic over glass.

It made me think of the South Park song:

I've got something in my front pocket, for you.

Why don't you reach in, and see what it is?...

That said, I hope you're right and I'm wrong! : P

Retina iPad: confirmed. Also, I really doubt they are showing that iPad in landscape mode, which means that most likely the home button is gone. Not sure how I feel about that one.

I noticed that the bubbles had a unique-looking arrangement in the march 7 announcement photo, so I (crudely) compared it to an iPad 2 with that wallpaper in both landscape and portrait modes. Doing so seems to indicate that it is indeed oriented in portait mode: http://imgur.com/a/gbjyr

For me, removing the Home button would turn an automatic upgrade into a wait-and-see. I've had too many bad experiences with capacitive buttons on everything from smartphones to laptops to keyboards.

Not to mention the inherent problem of a capacitive button that lives on a bezel that people use to grasp the device. There'd be no grazing the home button while turning or moving your hand positions without possibly-activating that button. Absent some bullet-proof pressure-sensing technology, it would be incredibly frustrating.

So mark me down for hoping that the "touch" bit is either an allusion to some haptic feedback technology, or some pressure-sensing technology, or even just an ad-copy play off "see" that people are reading too much into.

The iPad presents a unique problem though: you can use the iPad in any orientation. For example, when using it in landscape mode, the home button can be on either the far left or right: it's a huge moving target, and with a screen the size of an iPad, it's often outside your peripheral vision (unlike the iPhone).

What if the home button moves depending on screen orientation? i.e. the home button is always at the center of the bottom-most bezel edge? It's not a particularly usable solution without the best capacitive button ever made, but it's interesting to think about.


In all likelihood, multitasking is probably a 'swipe up' gesture from the bottom of the screen now, similar to what Apple is doing with the trackpad in Mountain Lion's notification system.

I'm imagining a WebOS-style gesture, but the swipe action is from the screen edge, not the bezel.


I agree, though. Capacitive buttons are awful, especially on an iPad where there's so much room for an accidental press.

iPad already does that (off by default): four-finger swipe up shows the list of apps, and four-finger swipe left or right takes you to other apps.

Edit: and I think four-finger pinch takes you back to the home screen. The only real use for the Home button on an iPad now is for taking screenshots (remapping double-click the Power button could probably replace this)

Trouble with the pinch gesture is the iPhone. The gesture is impossible to use with one hand, and even with two hands, it's still rather awkward on a small (sub-7") screen. Remove the iPhone home button in favor of this gesture and you ruin the user experience. Leave the home button and now we've broken consistency with the iPad (which is one of the main selling points on the iOS ecosystem). Not saying they can't drop the home button, they'd just need a more practical way to do it (for example, webOS/BBX/Win8-style edge swipes)

Have you tried the gestures? There would be no capacitive buttons, only gestures. I don’t know when I last used the button but it was a long time ago. Once I turned the gestures on I couldn’t go back, they are very useful and won’t be wrongly recognized.

> I really doubt they are showing that iPad in landscape mode

They would, if showing it in portrait mode would have spoiled a design innovation.

Gizmodo did some investigating and determined that the icon spacing is consistent with portrait mode.

Their article ends with: "We tried to match the portrait iPad 2 and iPad 3, but we couldn't. The spacing is wrong no matter how many icons you put on the dock. The reflection intersect the icon's edge in the wrong place no matter where you position it."

And after studying my own iPad, I concur. It's definitely closer in portrait than landscape, but there are still enough differences that clearly more variables are in play. (The wallpaper has likely changed, the dock's background image has likely changed, the spacing has changed, etc.)

Could it not just be turned 180 degrees (i.e. upside down)? The iPad can be held that way.

Edit: I guess in that case, there'd be a camera there, assuming it hasn't moved.

Well it could be, but why on earth would Apple would choose to show an iPad in that kind of orientation?

I'd be happy. A 4-finger pinch would do nice, so long as it's reliable. The home button is too LOUD, distraction in quiet settings.

Why do people insist on using Apple marketing terms for what are commodity components? It's a ~300DPI LCD. Apple didn't invent it, they just bought it from someone. Ditto for all the people talking about the performance of the "A5 CPU".

Apple actually made a worthwhile distinction with "retina display" - it's the resolution at which the human eye can't discern different pixels from the distances it will be used at. Simply noting the DPI doesn't capture this. Some argue that since the iPad is often held further away, it could have lower DPI than the iPhone and still have indiscernible pixels.

"300DPI LCD" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue :)

"300dpi iPad confirmed" would have been clearer, more correct, less marketing polluted, and fit within the same number of message bytes. Believe it or not there are people in the world outside Apple's products who understand dots per inch but not what a "retina" display is.

Say what you will about Apple polluting the landscape with marketing speak, but I think there's semantic value in thinking of it as a simple high-res display instead of a "300dpi LCD". Talking about it as a 300dpi display focuses on the technical implementation; calling it "retina" shifts the focus to the practical advantage, which is "it looks a lot better".

Unless you're a developer, it doesn't make a lick of difference to you whether it's 300dpi or 302dpi. What matters is that the display is either "pixelly" or "not pixelly". "Retina" may be a silly-sounding name, but I think the idea is just fine.

Would you apply it to other devices then? Do the Galaxy Nexus or Droid RAZR have "Retina Displays"? Clearly not, because that's an Apple trademark. So I don't see what your point is. The apple-only term would be better than the generic if it wasn't an apple-only term. Well, sure.

I just don't understand the desire on the part of Apple fans to embrace what are transparent attempts at rebranding generic components. In a non-technical environment sure. But on Hacker News? Really?

There are two issues here: leaving out levels of technical implementation detail ("I don't care about the specific DPI of the display, just that it's higher than before"), and using Apple-coined phrases to do so ("retina" rolls off the tongue much more nicely than "very high-density").

I'm not sure whether you were originally taking offense at the first, the second, or both; how would you feel if instead of talking about 'retina displays' people just said that the iPad 3 would have a 'higher-density screen'?

(as a sidenote, Android technically does have an equivalent shorthand for the various pixel densities the OS supports, but I don't know of any Android manufacturers who actively advertise a "XHDPI" display)

Switch brands to escape the reality distortion field and maybe it will be clearer: Do you call your wireless networking adapter a "Centrino"? That was also a very successful (at the time) attempt to rebrand a generic standard into something that was sold by only one manufacturer. Lots of people in the early days of WiFi walked into stores asking for one of those "Centrino" computers that could get to the internet without wires. And they'd refuse to buy one without the sticker even if it had a perfectly good radio.

See the damage this nonsense can do? And you'd never buy into it from any vendor except Apple, where for reasons I can't understand otherwise smart people get suckered into thinking Apple designs innovative CPUs and LCD panels.

As far as I can figure out (through the US PTO's abysmal website), "retina display" or derivitaves is not trademarked.

I'd be happy to be corrected, though.

Seems like Apple is moving away from the home button. Not sure how I feel about it, but at least it'll let my 3 year old focus a little better on the app I want him to play rather than him constantly hitting the home button and going to Shrek Kart.

If Apple is getting rid of the Home button, there's a lot of complex interaction to account for: http://www.codinghorror.com/.a/6a0120a85dcdae970b0168e681447...

Color me doubtful, though I'd love to be proven wrong. Lots of devices already do a good job with gesture-only interaction, but it requires redefining large chunks of the iOS vocabulary.

You are looking at it wrong. Also: You are wrong.

The iPad already supports gestures. Three gestures replace all you need the home button for (one or two small and insignificant exceptions, but those would be easy enough to add).

Those gestures already declutter the interaction considerably. They make for a much smoother experience than that clusterfuck which is the home button.

It’s a nice fallback, so I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea to remove it, but I haven’t touched it in ages (it’s always not where I expect it to be, anyway).

Part of the iPad's experience, and part of its success, is that it shares a common language with the iPhone. Removing the home button removes part of the easy transition from one device to the other. If an iPhone owner is thinking of buying a home-button-less iPad, they'll launch an app, and then stare in confusion trying to figure out how to leave it again. Eventually someone will come and explain to them that if you pinch your fingers this certain way, it will take you back to the home screen. And the experience is lessened.

I love the system Apple is building. The gestures built into iOS 5 make it faster and easier for me to use everyday. But gestures are like keyboard shortcuts - they require instruction and they're not discoverable. I think having a so-called "Panic" button exist on the device is important for the way it functions for consumers (not to mention integral to Siri's interface if that makes its way to the iPad). Will it be a physical button? Maybe, maybe not. Removing the only physical button on the device requires a more fundamental change than "three gestures replace all you need the home button for" though.

The iPad and iPhone are closely related. If one drops the home button, then likely the other will follow shortly.

Nah, the gestures work amazingly well on an iPad, but not at all on the iPhone. It's too small.

Our year and a half year old does the same thing. Constantly hits the home button and leaves whatever app he was in, then gets frustrated.

I never considered the home button a problem until I saw him using the iPad. Fascinating really.

The iPad's screen rotates depending on its orientation. That home row of icons could be at the bottom of any one of the iPad's 4 sides, 3 of which don't have a home button.

Did anyone else notice (or care) about the icons shown in the picture?

Google Map for 'Where', Calendar for 'When', Keynote for 'How' and iPad itself for 'What'. Just missing the Apple logo for 'Who'~

they usually embed little cues like this in their product announcements

It doesn't have to be iPad 3. It could be iPad 2S.

They're ditching the iPad name, this'll be the Newton.next.

It's the iPad //e

Anyone care to do an analysis of the pixel density underneath that finger?

It's a retina display.

while I look forward to a retina display iPad, I think people are reading too much into the touch portion. The event description itself does not say anything about the iPad, so the touch hint probably refers to the fact that the event is about one of their touch devices, which we presume is the next iPad.

So it's settled, 300+ppi display and haptic feedback, then? That would be pretty breathtaking.

Haptic feedback would be great but there hasn't been any evidence of the feature existing.

The Maps icon in the dock might be a hint that Apple is finally moving away from Google maps - though this would be a better fit for the next iPhone.

That matches the current icon and label for Maps on iPad.

Yes, but Apple never shows the Maps icon in the dock of the iPad in PR photography.

Yes, but I think it's more to indicate that you have to go somewhere [Maps] on Wednesday the 7th [Calendar] for a presentation [Keynote].

The "Let's Talk iPhone" invitation used the Calendar/Clock/Maps/Phone application icons to present the same concept: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/03/apples-lets-talk-iphone-e...

that would be announced along with an iOS version bump, not a hardware bump.

It'll be another ceremony. A parade of metal and glass. A celebration of our supposed progress. Another device for consumption. A window into a walled world. Another false need. Another life not really improved despite their insistence that it is

Please at least spare a thought for those around the world who are too busy trying to stay alive on this day to worry about a new monolith to worship.

I like technology, but I'm a human first.

I think that may be a bit over-the-top...

Possibly, but isn't the entire carnival of Apple the same?

Tell me which bit of my post was not factual?

Which bit was not factual? There isn't a single factual statement in there except in the most absurdly pedantic sense, it's all mocking hyperbole.

Another life not really improved despite their insistence that it is

We put on a great show because we all gonna die.

I can't get behind this mindset. First off, who are you to say that these sorts of devices don't enrich people's lives? For this conversation, I'll concede that tablets are largely for consumption. At what point would it be enriching?

Under your rationale, if you always think of who has it worse than you, you could never have a valid complaint. "Man, I will be so disappointed if the iPad 3 doesn't have LTE." "Don't you think about starving children in Africa?"

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact