7.85-inch iPad mini with third generation iPad and iPhone 4S (to scale)
We know for sure that whenever it arrives it will be accompanied by some sandpaper. That is if Steve Jobs’ quote from October 2010 is anything to go by when he stated that Apple had done extensive testing on the screen sizes of tablets and concluded that 10-inches is the minimum size for a tablet “unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.”
However one could assume that whatever Steve Jobs says isn’t going to happen usually does, at least that applies to Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone market and how video became available on the iPod shortly after Jobs described that as somewhere Apple wouldn’t venture.
There has been a lot of talk about batteries and power usage recently. It was all kicked off by the announcement and subsequent release of the third-generation iPad. When the iPad was originally released in 2010 many, including myself, were amazed that the iPad had such incredible battery life that it no longer became an issue. It was not something that was worried about.
Apple was obviously proud of the quoted battery life figures it presented with the first iPad because it maintained them with the iPad 2. But what that demonstrated was that Apple was pleased with the battery life and saw it as a major feature and therefore worked hard to produce a System-on-Chip (SoC) that could be powerful yet power efficient. With the iPad 2 Apple doubled the processing speed from the original iPad and delivered up to nine times the graphics performance whilst making the unit thinner and maintaining (in fact, increasing) battery capacity.
But that’s nothing compared to what happened on the iPad 3.
It’s official. Apple has sent out invites this week to an event being held in San Francisco next Wednesday March the 7th. The event which is certainly going to be focused on the iPad 3 has been in the offing for a number of months, but in addition to the announcement of the iPad 3 it looks like the Apple TV will get a similar treatment but it’s not what you think.
Rumours of the iPad 3 gaining a retina display have been floating around since before the second iPad even existed. The likeliness of the iPad 3 popping up next week without a high-resolution display are hugely improbable. But the jump from a 1024 x 68 pixel display to one with a whopping 2048 x 1536 pixels creates all kinds of headaches. Beyond making the UI of apps look smooth and icons the correct resolution there are also issues with content. The maximum resolution of content on Apple’s own iTunes Store is 720p, that sure won’t look impressive on that super-high resolution display.
Purported photo of iPad 3 rear enclosure (right) compared to iPad 2 | Photo courtesy of RepairLabs
Amongst the ranks following the path of Apple’s iPad updates it has been of reasonable certainty that the next major update to Apple’s hugely popular tablet would come in the March/April time period. With just one month to go before the iPad 3 (sometimes referred to as iPad HD) is announced the number of reliable rumours has begun to pickup and a picture of the device becoming clear and a timeframe coming into view.
Whilst I’ve been telling eager outsiders to expect an update to the iPad around March/April for some months now I have been known to explain that I believe Apple should adjust the update point of the iPad. But it would seem that this year is not when that is going to happen. Last year I published an article discussing some of the reasons why Apple had pushed the iPhone release from the regular June spot into the fall and wrongly assuming that the annual music event would be pushed aside for the iPhone. In fact the iPhone release fell in early October and sales have been nothing but stellar, I was wrong in my prediction.
It still remains odd to me that Apple would stick to a schedule of releasing a new iPad just three months after Christmas in the March/April timeframe followed by an iOS event in June (coinciding with WWDC) with that software release occurring alongside new iPhone hardware in October. This bizarre update cycle leaves new iPad owners with “old” software until the fall and puts Apple on the back-foot on the run-up to Christmas.
Despite Apple’s own use of iPhone in the event invite I view the term ‘iPhone event” with hesitation, I firmly believe that today’s event being held at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino at 10am Pacific (6pm London) is an iOS device event not just focused on the iPhone.
Much of what I wrote last week on the iPhone rumour cycle and where we’re at remains largely true. Except many onlookers and commentators have placed themselves firmly into one of two camps, the first camp believing that Apple won’t release a device called the iPhone 5 but will instead release a new phone called the iPhone 4s and alongside it an 8GB iPhone 4. The second camp against all odds still believes we’ll see an iPhone 5, some even believe with a complete redesign, and that the iPhone 4s is the new low-end iPhone.
Whatever happens today we know one thing for sure, Apple has kept this rumour cycle the most locked down of them all, or at very least they’ve distracted us enough with iPhone 5 rumours that we’re missing the picture.
I personally remain firmly in the camp of thought that we’ll see an iPhone 4s (N94) today powered by Apple’s A5 system-on-a-chip (SoC), 1GB of RAM, featuring an 8MP camera and available in 16, 32, and 64GB capacities. There are strong rumours that Apple has incorporated a chip capable of GSM and CDMA in the iPhone 4s and that this phone will be capable of HSPA+ on GSM networks. HSPA+ is capable of very fast data speeds with most carriers supporting up to 21Mbps and is often classed as “4G” by those carriers, it’s not.
The iPhone 4s will take the shape of the current iPhone 4 but will be thinner and the antenna design adjusted, presumably to accommodate both CDMA and GSM capabilities.
The iPhone 4s is expected in Apple’s major markets on October 14 but some have suggested a very unlikely imminent release.
Alongside the iPhone 4s Apple will have an 8GB iPhone 4 (N90A for us geeks), it’s by no means a focus of the show, but it aims to hit the low-end market and help penetration in African and Asian markets. Some have speculated that this device has been reworked to make it even cheaper, if this is the case then the changes are very minimal.
Such an iPhone lineup leads to a problem though, every man and his dog is expecting an iPhone 5 and Apple doesn’t appear to have made its usual attempts to dampen expectation ahead of the event. So what else does Apple have up its sleeve?
It’s all in the software and this is where Apple shines. When Apple released the iPhone 3GS (notice a pattern?) in 2009 it was a slight upgrade from the 3G released the previous year. The ‘s’ was said to stand for speed, sure it was faster but it lacked that wow factor. One of Apple’s marquee features for the iPhone 3GS was voice recognition.
Apple looks set to make this the marquee feature of the iPhone 4s and this time do it properly. Everyone knows how voice recognition works on a phone, you say call a contact and it calls someone else. This will all change.
The feature which is currently only scantily visible in betas of iOS 5 is said to be called ‘Assistant’ and be a system wide feature. An icon found in a beta of iOS 5 suggests a microphone button will sit in the bottom left of the keyboard which will enable dictation, but obviously the key point is the tightly integrated way in which information is presented upon making a query.
With Apple expected to unveil this feature at the event later today we should expect another iOS 5 beta for developers, whether this comes in the form of a Golden Master (GM) or not it doesn’t really matter.
iOS 5 will land before the iPhone 4S, possibly as soon as this Friday (October 7).
As I said earlier though this isn’t just an iPhone event, Apple’s current lineup of iPods have been on the market longer than any others as the month of September sailed past with not a hint of an iPod refresh. Much has been speculated about the future of the iPod, some by myself, and I suspect most of it’s wrong.
The iPod touch will naturally take centre stage and will take the form of previous updates with the upper models seeing an upgrade to the A5, extended battery life, they’re unlikely to get much thinner but will be available in white.
As for the other iPods, the rumours are scarce. Some have suggested the iPod classic and shuffle will go the way of the dodo, this may be true for the shuffle but only if the nano comes down in price. The classic, despite my own predictions a year ago, looks set to remain unchanged.
Apple does have one more big feature and that is of course, iCloud. Whilst unveiled at WWDC in June expect Apple to go over the details again, nothing is expected to have changed but we’ll get a date when the service goes live which could be within hours of the event.
iPhone 4s available in 16, 32 and 64GB capacities. A5 chip, 1GB RAM, 8MP rear camera, looks like the current iPhone 4 but thinner and with a redesigned antenna. Both GSM and CDMA capable with HSPA+. Available October 14.
8GB iPhone 4 to fill the gap of the low-end market. Largely unchanged.
iPod touch available in white and with the A5 chip, design unchanged, same goes for capacities.
iPod classic to remain the same, shuffle phased out and nano lowered in price.
iOS 5 key feature to be voice Assistant, we’ll see a GM this week and maybe public release on October 7.
iCloud available imminently.
Apple’s event is being held in front of a select number of members of the media at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino. A simulcast is being held at the Covent Garden Apple Store in London for UK and Europe based media. The event will begin at the following times:
10:00AM – Pacific
11:00AM – Mountain
12:00PM – Central
01:00PM – Eastern
06:00PM – London
07:00PM – Paris
09:00PM – Moscow
02:00AM – Tokyo (Wednesday 5th)
04:00AM – Sydney (Wednesday 5th)
World of Apple will provide coverage of the news and post-event analysis. Apple is not providing a live video but a meta blog of events can be followed on World of Apple’s Twitter feed or the following sites:
We have a date for the event, we even have reasonably solid date of October 14 for when the device will hit the market but unlike any previous year or any previous product the picture remains muddied.
After much deliberation and debate it seems that All Things D has come out on top when it comes to the iPhone 5 rumours, early on they said October (I said September) and more recently they said October 4 (I said nothing). The main source at All Things D, John Paczkowski even got specific with his information and pinpointed that Apple would use the intimate setting of its Cupertino campus to roll out the new iPhone, putting the move down to being unable to book its usual San Francisco venue rather than anything sentimental about the iPod’s ten year anniversary.
But there is one notably missing element to this picture from our evidently reliable sources at All Things D and that is anything about the actual device itself.
It has of course been the longest rumour run up to any iPhone release ever before and unlike any other release this one seems so highly anticipated I get phone calls and messages from the most unlikely of friends about when the iPhone 5 will rear its bezel. The rumour mongering has even roped in the mainstream press, if we needed any proof that our beloved rumour sites held more purpose than most gave them credit for.
I could sit here tapping away about all the rumours we’ve come across over the last few months, but it would look similar to an article I penned in April which basically said: “we know nothing”.
Even back in April the writing was on the wall, from Reuters I wrote: “the [iPhone 5] design will remain largely the same as the iPhone 4 and will feature a faster processor, presumably the A5 used in the iPad 2.”
This small sentence remains accurate based on what we’ve seen over the last few months. Sure we’ve seen fancy mockups from Mac Rumors, we’ve seen case, after case, after case, after case come out with the same teardrop, enlarged screen, oblong home button shape. But they’re all from a single source.
What we haven’t seen from this purported iPhone 5 design is any case parts, any oblong home buttons, any enlarged screens or for that matter any clue on how Apple would deal with this larger display, and possibly the most notable of all, no real idea why Apple would release two iPhones simultaneously.
Looks to me that the writing is still on the wall.
Now I’m not one to spend hours analysing Apple’s press invites but I do know for a fact that Apple’s PR team like to douse rumours ahead of events to stem expectation. They did it ahead of WWDC this year and they’re doing it now, that number one above the phone on yesterday’s invite seems like a solid indication that we’ll see a single iPhone.
This of course raises questions about Apple’s low-end iPhone strategy, I say look at that iPhone 4 sat on your desk and smirk.
Over the last few months a number of rumours have suggested that Apple was showing serious interest in setting up the company’s largest (Editor note: disputable figures as ever) Apple store inside New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. This morning we have near confirmation that Apple has penned a 10-year deal.
As reported in the New York Post Apple is said to have “inked a 10-year deal with the MTA”, the 23,000 square foot store will reside in Grand Central’s north and northeast balconies which will mean the demise of Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur restaurant.
According to Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) documents Apple will initially pay rent of $800,000 a year, after 10 years the rent is said to increase to more than $1 million a year.
As is common with large stores in prominent locations, Apple will pay to refurbish the property.
According to the NYPost the MTA financial committee will need to approve the deal Monday with a further ok required on Wednesday from the board of directors.
Those that recall the rumours leading up to this years Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco will know that many of them made mention of Apple making deals with music labels for a streaming music service.
Following Apple’s announcement of iCloud and the associated iTunes in the cloud features there was an absence of any form of streaming. In the aftermath the many talks outlined between Apple and music labels were concluded to have been about iTunes Match and the adjustment to the number of machines capable of playing purchased music, but now it seems streaming could still be in the pipeline.
During yesterday’s earnings call Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer revealed that the next financial quarter will offer “neat stuff” with regards to content on the iTunes Store.
And then perhaps a quick follow-up. With respect to content accumulation in regards to video, can you talk a little bit why we don’t have more movie titles on iTunes at this point, and if we are going to be rectifying that in the future?
Sure. Brian, it’s Peter. We have a very, very broad library of movies and TV shows particularly here in the United States. We are adding more content internationally each quarter and look for some more content later this quarter across the various stores. We have some neat stuff coming.
Whilst speculation on comments made by executives during financial earnings calls is frowned upon by this publication it is important to point out the notability of the comments made by Oppenheimer.
Ahead of Apple’s WWDC 2011 announcements the resounding consensus about the arrival of a streaming iTunes service surprised many when the service was absent. This has led some to speculate that the streaming service will come at a later date, presumably wheen Apple finally launches iCloud and iTunes in the cloud during the annual Fall music event.
Despite stepping right on the heels of Apple’s third fiscal quarter results it is looking increasingly likely that Apple will unveil the long-rumoured MacBook Air update alongside OS X Lion this coming Wednesday.
AppleInsider cites “people with proven track records” who point towards the two products being released at 8.30am eastern time (1.30pm London time).
As covered in our more detailed look at the MacBook Air rumours, the refresh is expected to change very little from an aesthetic point of view. Inside the new MacBook Air is expected to pack Intel’s ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge processors. Consuming only 17 watts and running dual cores up to 1.8GHz the new processors from Intel are a perfect match for the MacBook Air.
Elsewhere inside the Air the internal SSD is expected to weigh in at a starting size of 128GB and of course the already present Mini DisplayPort will be changed to a ThunderBolt port.
Apple is also expected to drop OS X Lion alongside the MacBook Air refresh. As the OS will be released via the Mac App Store there is no channel inventory to be filled, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when Apple will flick the switch.
Mac OS X Lion | Image courtesy of Apple
Available from the Mac App Store for $29.99 (£20.99) and packing over 250 new features some of those included are: new Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.
It would appear that Apple is heading into a period of multiple Mac refreshes, this week signs have appeared that Apple is likely to refresh the MacBook Air and rumours point towards a Mac Pro refresh. Now it is being reported that supplies of the white MacBook have become constrained at some third-party retailers.
Last refreshed in May 2010 Apple’s white MacBook is showing out of stock at a number of authorised resellers with may others reporting low inventory with no sign of any replenishing units.
In recent weeks no rumours have pointed towards any kind of MacBook refresh with attention focused on the upcoming MacBook Air refresh and the release of OS X Lion which is likely to occur towards the end of July.
In line with recent changes to other Macs, Apple will most likely add Thunderbolt connectivity to the MacBook; murmurings in from sources suggest that Apple will slash the current $999 price tag of the MacBook significantly.