10 things that Apple should make right now

What other kit will people queue outside the Apple Store for?

Apple likes to think it's the oracle of technology; rays of light shining forth from its Cupertino offices, Steve Jobs with a halo around his head.

But oddly, while its products are angelic, its press office is more secretive than the USA's Homeland Security.

Apple has a strict policy, which it repeats ad infinitum: it won't discuss unreleased products. In the world of tech journalism, this presents a problem. So we've resorted to a tried and tested practice: we decided to make them up, starting with the most obvious and ending with the slightly less obvious...

1. Mac Touch
While Apple won't discuss unannounced products, it will steadfastly deny rumours. Jobs has said the company is not working on a touch computer, but he said something similar about the iPhone. A touch Mac would support gestures for every activity; painting in Photoshop, opening Finder windows, adding some flair to an iChat session with a finger swipe. Most of the research and coding has been done for the iPhone - which runs on a modified version of OS X - so this is not a stretch. Unlike quirky Tablet PCs that support touch - such as the Dell Latitude XT - a Mac Touch would actually work.

2. A-Book
Okay, it might be a dorky name, but Apple really needs to make a high-resolution e-book reader, similar to the Amazon Kindle, the CyBook Gen 3, and the Sony Reader. Gestures could mimic those on the iPhone: flick to turn a page, pinch to zoom in on a word and look it up in the dictionary, spread fingers to see the table of contents. To crush the competition, the A-Book would be in colour, yet support the same 120DPI quality of the grayscale electronic readers.

3. Its own version of Flash
Could we also see an Apple version of Flash? After all, why won't it allow Flash on the iPhone otherwise? Apple is both a hardware and software company, but its foray into Web 2.0 and the interactive web has been hit and miss (but mostly miss, if you have ever used MobileMe). Some would say iTunes is a powerful Web 2.0 application, but it's decidedly desktop bound. Web 2.0 sites from Apple would be amazing: a music app that runs on the Web and syncs with your iPod from anywhere, video editing that uses back-end servers for post-processing but has a front end that looks like every other Mac app.

4. Apple Touch Table
The natural iteration of a Mac Touch and the iPhone is an OS X-powered touch table that you can use in the kitchen or living room. Avoiding comparisons to Microsoft Surface, the Touch Table would support more physics so when multiple users play a card game or racing simulation, there would be force feedback from the whole table and objects that collide would cause a visceral bump.

5. OS X in a browser
And, if Apple can't deliver a few Web 2.0 sites, can they at least make a Web OS? What I mean by that is not an enterprise-class cloud infrastructure - let's leave that work to Google and Amazon. What we mean is an OS that literally runs in your browser, houses your Web apps and data, allows you to configure users to access the OS, runs the Dashboard and widgets, and looks and acts just like OS X.

6. Apple Watch
Distant memories of the abysmal Microsoft SPOT watch have now faded into oblivion (although MSN Direct lives on and may even be updated next year). Apple should steal the market with a watch that supports about 4GB of music storage, includes Bluetooth stereo earbuds, and speaks the time.

7. Mac Dashboard
No, not that dashboard -- we're not talking widgets here, but a hardware dashboard for your car. The iPod would - of course - plug into the stereo system, while speed and fuel indicators would be customisable (perhaps even mimicking the look of a BMW one day and a Mercedes the next). Add in multi-user support - meaning, the passengers in the back seat - and we could see personalized seat warmers and position settings.

8. Mac House
Here's where things get interesting. A Mac House would be powered entirely by OS X and bring full home automation. Too cold? An LCD screen would show the current temperature. Front door security breached? It would be linked to all of your computer passwords. Sprinkler controls? They could be synced with the local weather automatically. And the best part is: no viruses or system crashes.

9. Mac Goggles
Visual products have faltered of late - many of them cause eye strain and dizziness. Yet, Apple can get this one right if they throw enough hard science into it, creating a virtual environment with stationary objects, very high resolution optics, and plenty of connection options (such as HDMI and DVI).

10. Mac Transit
Once your house is run on OS X, you have a touch table for playing games and wear your Mac Goggles everyday to work, it's time for Apple to start taking over the rest of the world, starting with mass transit. Terminals for gaining entrance to a train station that run OS X would be just the beginning. Next, airplanes would be equipped with iPod listening stations, cars would mimic iPhone gestures, and even road signs on the way to a picnic would be Mac powered. Microsoft Windows? Non-existent.


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John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.