Revealed: a blueprint for Apple's netbook

Apple logo
Will Apple ever release a netbook? Here's MacFormat's best guess on how it would work

The world and his dog, it would seem, want Apple to make a netbook.

Even that part of the world that has no idea what a netbook is wants Apple to make one.

But this is Apple we're talking about.

If it decides to make something that fits into the same market that the PC industry has been addressing with netbooks, you can bet it will be something special.

Here's MacFormat's best guess at what it would have under the hood:

A portable Home directory
Your entire Home folder – all docs, photos, movies and music – would live 'in the cloud' on Apple's servers. Regularly used files would be cached locally, but the system would enable you to keep files in sync between the tablet and your desktop Macs, whilst getting away with a smaller SSD.

Uses the iPhone OS
We see Apple using the iPhone OS with smaller devices like this. Not only is it better suited to devices that are physically small and don't have meaty processors and oodles of RAM, but it makes sound commercial sense for Apple, which takes a 30% cut of software sold through the App Store.

Docking device
This dock charges the device, but also puts it into a comfortable position for heavier usage. With USB and FireWire ports, you can hook up peripherals, and there's a Mini DisplayPort so you can connect it to an extra monitor; then, of course, the tablet's own display could be dedicated to email, music and more.

No optical drive
Like the MacBook Air and iPhone, this design eschews a DVD drive. If you want one (and there's the software available to take advantage of it) plug an external drive into the dock, or use a MacBook Air-like Remote Disc system.

Optional keyboard
Of course, it would use an iPhone-like soft keyboard that can pop up on-screen whenever you need it, but for extended periods of typing, you could use an external keyboard. It could connect over Bluetooth, or, since there's support for external hardware devices in iPhone OS 3.0, plug into the base. Note the iPhone-sized touchpad.

Integrated 3G broadand
With a mobile device you need a way to always get to your files, so, like the iPhone 3G, our ideal Apple tablet would have integrated 3G connectivity – proper 7.2Mb/sec HSUPA – to keep you connected to Apple's servers at all times.

Bluetooth headphones
iPhone OS 3.0 supports the stereo Bluetooth audio profile – A2DP – and as the monaural headset has apparently been discontinued, we see a stereo Bluetooth headset with microphone for VoIP, video conferencing and audio playback control.

Pick up the latest copy of MacFormat, which showcases Apple's previous attempts at making a netbook – hands up who remembers the quite brilliant PowerBook Duo? – and tells you how you can make your own OS X netbook today. It's on-sale now in all good newsagents, or you can buy the latest copy of MacFormat online now; it's in the red Speed up your Mac issue!


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.