The Apple Tablet / iPad – What It Means For Music Fans

Apple iSlate / iTablet Picture

So, the excitement about Apple’s latest competitor-slaying device is heating up.

The product, mooted as the ‘iPad’, ‘Tablet’ or ‘iSlate’, will be unveiled in the US on Wednesday 27 January. And already the rumour-mill is at fever pitch.

The latest speculation on the gadget has it down as a kind of ‘iPhone on steroids’. A 10.5 inch screen and increased touch-screen gestures are two of the most talked about characteristics. Like the Apple iPhone it’s likely to have web connectivity and use Apps.

Except it’s also being called a ‘Kindle-killer’, suggesting it could blow Amazon’s single-purpose book-reader (and its bland, non-colour screen) out of the water.

Some claim it will have a screen that can change its surface, growing bumps or textures when required. Others predict it will literally be able to fly, and quip happy words of encouragement when you need them most. Ok, that last sentence’s a lie, but you get the idea.

But where does it leave music fans? So far there’s been little talked about in terms of music consumption (buying, listening etc) or music industry-changing innovation.

Sure – movies, TV, books, magazines, Apps and games may be able to be downloaded to the shiny screen, but music’s more about the listening experience, and there’s nothing to talk about in terms of audio advancements.

That said, if you like reading music reviews – a future where music magazines can be read on an iSlate would allow video and audio to accompany the text. A live review could contain footage.
And if you like that reviewer, the dynamic interface would allow you to read more of his/her writing. Or post a furious counter-argument if you disagreed. All with a tap or two of the screen.

Features on bands wouldn’t be limited to just a couple of images – you could flick through every picture from the shoot and order framed photos of shots you like with a single tap. Discovering that band’s influences, similar artists, or bands influenced by them would be dead easy. As would listening to them right away, or ordering physical product such as CDs or merch.

The possibilities are really exciting. Hell, even trees get saved if you think about it.

If all that sounds a bit too much like ‘the internet’ – that thing you already have without spunking the best part of a grand on a giant iPhone, then I guess you’re right.

Except if you think of the iSlate as a TV/book-reader/laptop-screen which combines the best of the web (interactivity, audio, video etc) with the best aspects of music magazines (lengthy reads, quality content such as stunning photoshoots/world-exclusives, great access to bands, tactile, portable, share-able) then perhaps we’re onto something.

Chances are, especially if you live in the UK, that you don’t read Sports Illustrated. But the guys over there are already getting imaginative about the potential of the iMonkey’s (call it what you will, ’til Steve Jobs dons his black turtle neck and unveils it properly this week) impressive touch/flick/swipe/tap interface.

Check out this video, for example:

Sports Illustrated magazine, as imagined on an iTablet

But what do you think is the most enticing thing about the new gadget? And will you be buying one – even if they cost the best part of £1,000?

Let us know below…

Update (21/01/10): Apple is also rumoured to be preparing to launch a so-called cloud music service for iTunes, which could allow users to stream their music and video library on any internet connected computer, iPod, iPod Touch or iSlate.

Writing on, founder Michael Robertson stated that Apple could feasibly introduce the new service overnight.

“Leveraging their ubiquitous iTunes software Apple plans to upgrade their users almost overnight to a cloud music service in an ambitious move to beat Amazon and others to a cloud music service,” he explained. Read more here.