Very soon, we'll know whether Apple has changed the world again. The company has scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. Eastern time today. For months now, the rumor mills and blogosphere have been abuzz with speculation that Apple will debut a new class of device based on the iPod Touch and an updated version of the iPhone OS that uses a larger screen (10 or 11 inches diagonal, perhaps 7) to provide a multitouch, gesture-based media slate for e-books, electronic magazines, Web browsing, video playback, and apps.
In other words, if the rumors are right, this device won't be a tablet-style MacBook running Mac OS X with handwriting recognition added à la the failed generations of Windows tablet PCs. Instead, it will be a device for presenting, finding, and organizing media content, as well as running the wide of apps that iPhone users now enjoy. It should also run existing iPhone apps.
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As with the iPhone, the consensus among the rumormongers is that the device will connect to AT&T's cellular network in the United States -- and perhaps also Verizon Wireless's -- and will use Apple's iTunes service and App Store to manage downloads of individual and subscription-based media and apps.
What such a device would do that's truly new -- as opposed to providing an integrated media-playback and "thin app" device tied to the popular iTunes and App stores -- remains a mystery, with no consensus in the speculation running rampant in the Web.
As the actual details become available of Apple's announcement, return to this story to learn what Apple is actually announcing and the implications for technologists and technology users.
Follow the buzz leading up to today's big reveal:
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- Act now to avoid the Apple tablet apocalypse
- Why Apple's rumored iTablet will fail big time
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This article, "What you should know about Apple's tablet," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments on Apple and mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.