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Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 06:55 pm PT (09:55 pm ET)

Apple sees tablet as one device shared by the whole family - WSJ

The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell of tablet and Apple-related information Wednesday evening. Among the new details: Apple sees its tablet as a device that will be shared by multiple family members — and it might even recognize their faces.

The story reveals a great deal of alleged new information regarding Apple, including details on the Bing negotiations with Microsoft, the "iTunes.com" cloud-based service, TV subscriptions and more.

Reporters Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ethan Smith cited numerous sources familiar with the tablet in revealing that Apple intends to focus its tablet on providing content from multiple "old media" business sources, including textbooks, newspapers and television. Apple has reportedly pitched the tablet as a device that can be shared amongst family members and used for reading news and checking e-mail.

That sharing element, one person said, has been a major focus for Apple in creating the user interface for the device. Interaction with the hardware will be in such a manner that it is "intuitive to share."

"The person said that Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera," the report said. "It's unclear whether these features will be included at launch."

In addition, the report shed more light on Apple's alleged plans to create a cloud-based iTunes service. Called iTunes.com, the service would allow customers to buy music without using the iTunes software. Apple reportedly wants to populate Web sites with "buy" buttons to make it even easier to purchase iTunes content. The Journal was told that Apple intends to launch the service by June.

The article also reaffirmed rumors that surfaced Wednesday that Apple was in talks with Microsoft to bring its Bing search service to its line of devices. But the Journal went one step further and said that Apple and Microsoft could partner for Bing maps as well.

Among other information stated in the Journal's article Wednesday:

  • The tablet will include a virtual keyboard for text input.
  • Apple wants to present traditional print content, like newspapers and magazines, "differently" on the device. The company envisions the device for use reading content both at home and in the classroom.
  • Game maker Electronic Arts is working with Apple on software to demonstrate the game-playing capabilities of the tablet.
  • As has been rumored for months, Apple is in negotiations with TV networks for a monthly subscription service. The plan would include a "best of TV" subscription for on-demand access to content. It would offer about four to six shows per channel.
  • Referring to traditional media companies, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was said to be "supportive of the old guard," a person who once worked with him told the Journal. Jobs allegedly wants to "help them by giving them new forms of distribution."