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Mac (-ish) Gaming: The Dream of the Mac Tablet

posted Aug 30, 2012, 12:19 AM by Douglas Sun
Originally posted: August 30, 2009

I doubt that there’s much more than thin air to the rumor floated on Gizmodo the other day that, in addition to the 10” display tablet computer now widely expected to be announced next month and sold early next year, Apple will offer 13” and 15” versions of said tablet computer. This on evidence no less obscure than your typical Bigfoot sighting. I lend more credence to the core speculation that a 10” netbook equivalent is in the works, but otherwise will believe nothing until it is formally announced. None of us really know what is going on behind the scenes at Apple; or else it wouldn’t be Apple. None of us really knows the mind of Steve Jobs; otherwise, he wouldn’t be Steve Jobs.

That being said, let’s take the impending existence of an Apple tablet-shaped computer with a 10” display, running on the iPhone firmware, as a given. The tech press is talking about it as a netbook, but in fact it will be something between an amped-up iPod and a MacBook notebook. It will be a netbook, but also a portable media player and probably an eBook reader (watch your back, Kindle) as well.

And a game machine. Think about it: A 10” display will give you about 4x the screen space of a PSP, and about 6x the space of an iPhone/iPod Touch. Unlike the PSP, you’ll have a touch-screen interface (and no stylus to lose, as with the DS). Add that to the proven popularity of game apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch, and Apple may well give us the PSP-killer that I thought the iPhone could turn out to be when I first got one two years ago.

The Apple tablet will be an instant game-changer (as it were) for the iPhone game development community, as it increases by leaps and bounds what you can achieve visually on hardware driven by the iPhone firmware. Just think, then, what developers could achieve if Gizmodo’s rumor somehow turned out to be accurate, and there were 13” and 15” versions of the tablet. Suddenly, you’d have a portable game console with a built-in display the size of a small monitor/television set. It would be too large to hold in one hand, but you could easily lay it flat in your lap or on a table. No separate display needed, no controller needed, and it would be a true multifunction device. And suddenly, a PS3 or a Wii or an XBox 360 looks like a cheap piece of junk.

As someone who has just joined the iPhone development community, my mind reels. I can practically sense new dimensions opening up, like someone who has actually figured out string theory. Apple will not give us a tablet computer with a 15” display next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sprung one on us within the next 5 years. And it will be cool as cool beans can get.