2013 – the year of the tablet?

by / Thursday, 10 January 2013 / Published in Blog

This year is going to be the year of the tablet. Some are predicting that tablets will outsell laptops and become the most used type of portable computer. This anticipated growth is faster than anyone expected just 12 months ago.

Apple created the first popular tablet device with the launch of the iPad in 2010. By removing a keyboard and having a high quality touch screen, the iPad was more portable than a laptop, and better suited to casual use around the home, especially for tasks like browsing websites or checking emails. However, like most Apple products, the tablet was expensive and this limited its sales.

Last year, a number of cheaper tablet devices were launched, especially smaller 7 inch tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire. Also, with the launch of a new iPad, older models became more affordable. This led to a boom in the growth of tablets, which has impacted on the sales of both traditional desktops and laptops. Even the relatively new electronic book readers are suffering, as people choose to read ebooks on tablets instead.

The biggest drawback of the tablet is that, while they are great for casual use such as checking a website or using an app, it’s difficult to do more detailed work like editing a spreadsheet or creating a presentation. Touchscreen keypads are not great for writing content and they take up valuable screen space. One answer is the new tablet/laptop hybrid, a tablet device with an optional keyboard, such as the Microsoft Surface. Adding keyboards and stands enable tablets to become work devices, and they have been getting a lot of interest from business users.

Tablets use the same apps as smartphones, and so we can expect to see apps continue to grow as both devices become increasingly popular. I’ve been doing more work on apps recently,  with the first one I’ve designed, the apprenticeship jobs and guide app, due for launch in March. Our friends at Zedcore are currently programming it.

Websites are going to be viewed via tablets much more than before. This means that it’s even more important that website designs are smartphone and tablet friendly. For example, some websites are becoming ‘responsive’, that is, they automatically adjust to fit the size of the screen. Another approach is to redesign the website to be friendly to all devices, e.g. by making the navigation options finger-friendly as well as mouse-friendly. Many websites have yet to be optimised for mobile devices. We can expect to see more website redesigns this year, to make sites more accessible to mobile devices.

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