With Apple's WWDC providing actual news and, you know, facts, the iOSphere seemed like a hot air balloon that was rapidly cooling and losing not only altitude but attitude. Blogs and tech sites seemed to flounder in finding something to say that could compete with reality.
The best they came up with was thin gruel. Some inferred from the iOS 7 announcement that iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 would be "optimized gaming devices." Others admitted that the iPad non-announcement meant that the iPad 5 protective case announcements were "premature." With no information to the contrary, at least one rumorista boldly predicted that iPad 5 "could" be announced in July, or at any time between July and the fall. Finally, a Korean language tech site vaguely claimed that an iPad mini 2 Retina display was forthcoming from Samsung.
Pardon our yawn.
You read it here second.
"Think the window for the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 has closed for now? Think again. Apple's June WWDC keynote has come and gone with no new iPad or iPhone hardware, but that could still change next month, at least for the iPad."
~ Will Stabley, StableyTimes.com, for whom no news is good news, because it means that, like, anything "could" happen...like pigs...flying.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be "optimized gaming devices"
Many tech sites took note of Apple's newly announced Game Controller API in the iOS 7 software development kit, announced at WWDC.
9to5Mac's Zack Kahn has a succinct summary of what the changes mean. But others have gone somewhat farther in hinting that the new gaming support points to the Next iPads being "optimized gaming devices."
Kahn notes that the iOS 7 SDK supports what are called "MFi game controllers," which are an extension of Apple's MFi licensing arrangement which offers "the hardware components, tools, documentation, technical support, and certification logos needed to create AirPlay audio accessories and electronic accessories that connect to iPod, iPhone, and iPad."
"While existing hardware and software controller solutions currently exist, such as Joypad and the iCade respectively, none have yet been able to seamlessly integrate themselves directly into the operating system in order to facilitate smooth, reliable gameplay," Kahn writes. "Up until this point, third party developers have had to custom code software to specifically enable support for add-on hardware in specific apps."
The API will let users fit their iPhone, for example, into a third-party contraption that offers buttons and arrows as game controllers, or let them wirelessly connect a third-party game controllers to, say, an iPad to drive, shoot, and blow things up.
That all seems relatively straightforward. On that same Monday, iFrogz announced that its Caliber Advantage product, a combination mobile gaming controller and protective case for iPhones, would support iOS 7 and the new API. You set the iPhone into the iFrogz case which snaps open to reveal buttons and arrows for the controller. Here's a photo.
But a rather confusing post at International Business Times, Erik Pineda suggests there's more to this than meets the eye – that iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 will be "optimized gaming devices" as "Apple is looking into the possibility of competing head-on with leading gaming console manufacturers like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, which manufacture the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 and the Wii U."
One reason it's confusing is that a few paragraphs later, Pineda says Apple is not competing with these vendors. "While not directly competing with console manufacturers, Apple will likely offer the iPad Mini and the iPad as alternatives not only for casual gamers but also for those still hooked with high-end gaming experience that stand-alone consoles offer."
Pineda suggests that Apple is somehow responsible for the "steady slump" in the global gaming industry, "triggered largely by the advent of mobile gaming devices that the tech giant itself has introduced." Apparently, Apple has been seized by a fit of remorse, "By allowing the use of separate gaming tools for its tablet lines, the tech titan is courting the possibility of reinvigorating an industry that has the potential to generate billions in revenue," Pineda reasons.
Though not stated deliberately, the post seems to suggest that Apple may or should take other steps to "optimize" the Next iPads for gaming. If Apple were doing that, it could be by several potential changes to screen qualities, graphics performance, CPU performance, power management and the like. But Apple is likely working on all of these anyway, which means games will benefit from them without the next iPads specifically optimized for games.
iPad 5 non-announcement at WWDC shows protective cases were "premature"
"Although plenty of people were hoping to see an iPad 5 or iPhone 5S this didn't happen, as we suspected," says Mark Chubb, CEO of PhonesReview, pulling off the neat trick of commiserating and condescending in one sentence.
And probably no one regrets the absence of these devices more than Tim Hickman, CEO of Gumdrop, and also of Hard Candy, two companies that make a range of mobile accessories, including protective cases for iPads and iPhones. He got wide coverage just days before WWDC because he assured everyone in a blog post that iPad 5 at least would be announced at the conference this week, and that Gumdrop had new cases for it on sale online.
Some people were unduly impressed. "Has a Big iPad 5 Size Hint Been Dropped?" was Nathanael Arnold's breathless question as WallSt.CheatSheet.
"Does a new case from a well-known Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) accessories maker prove that Apple's fifth-generation iPad will be even lighter and smaller than its predecessors?" he asked. "Gumdrop, a manufacturer of designer Apple product cases, has just released a smaller-size iPad 5 case." (One of the mutations in iOSphere rumoring is that rumoristas today have generally just wimped out. They rarely assert things; they frame assertions as questions, since they can always plead incompleteness if not incompetence when things don't pan out. Imagine Arnold saying "New case proves that fifth-generation iPad will be lighter and smaller.")
To answer Arnold's wimpy question, "Alas no."
As Chubb says, "We recently told of one case maker [that would be Gumdrop] that was taking a big risk producing cases to be ready now for a new iPad, and now the iPad 5 omission at WWDC makes news of further cases premature."
In a statement to International Business Times, Gumdrop's Hickman is still upbeat. "Gumdrop iPad 5 case debuting ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference was a complete gamble, but we've been right four out of five times. Even though Apple didn't announce the iPad 5, we are confident that the dimensions we have are correct."
We don't recall hearing how the debut was a "complete gamble" being part of his pre-WWDC comments.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 "could" be announced in July
This cunning apercu is the product of the fertile imagination of Will Stabley, of the eponymous StableyTimes, "a new kind of news." But here, we think of the site as UnstableyTimes.com.
In what must be a reassuring post to many, Stabley confronts doubters, cynics and naysayers head-on.
"Think the window for the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 has closed for now? Think again," he declares. "Apple's June WWDC keynote has come and gone with no new iPad or iPhone hardware, but that could still change next month, at least for the iPad."
That's because Apple "is increasingly moving its hardware introductions away from WWDC." Rather, "it holds media events throughout the year to introduce new products when they're ready. Don't be shocked if Apple turns around and holds such an event as soon as July."
Nonetheless, The Rollup would indeed be shocked.
According to Stabley "Apple has never tied new iPad hardware to new iOS launches, meaning it may push the iPad 5 or iPad mini 2 to market as soon as the design and production of either or both is ready." So, don't be shocked if they're ready anytime now.
Or not. "So while the iPhone is all but certain to remain unchanged until the fall, the iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 are both still in the mix for any time between July and the fall," Stabley concludes. So apparently we also shouldn't be shocked if Apple decides not to announce them as soon as July.
By this point, we've achieved an "analysis" that's indistinguishable from throwing darts at a board plastered with day-month combinations. This type of analysis relies on two unspoken facts. One is that no one who knows what Apple is actually going to do is saying anything publicly about it. The other is that in light of that ignorance, one can then safely construct any kind of scenario and make it sound plausible. Because Apple hasn't announced a specific date for the Next iPad announcement, Stabley can say both "don't be shocked if Apple announces the iPad next month" and "the iPad can be announced any time between July and the fall."
The best response is just to ignore this and start your own office betting pool on when the iPad will be announced. This post at eHow.com – "How to Start an Office Betting Pool" - will get you going.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 to have Retina display touchpad from Samsung
Korea's ETNews.com, the online site for the Electronic Times IT newspaper, is citing "the industry" as the source for its post that Samsung's display unit will be one of the suppliers of Retina displays for both the next 9.7-inch iPad and the next 7.9-inch iPad mini.
The website posts an English version of some of its stories, including this one.
There's been speculation almost since the iPad mini was announced in October 2012 that the next version of the smaller tablet would ship with a Retina display, of 2048×1536 pixels, comparable in pixel density to that of the larger iPad. That is a formidable challenge. To drive the third-generation iPad with a Retina display, Apple introduced a dual-core processor, the A5X that was much larger physically than the iPad 2's A5, and more than doubled the performance of the GPU. But, to maintain approximately the same battery life, it also crammed in a much larger battery, which will be difficult to do within the smaller body of the iPad mini.
IClarified was one of the iOSphere sites that picked up on the ETNews post, casting it in the familiar meme of the ebb and flow of Samsung-Apple animosity. The two companies have been persistent combatants in global smartphone patent suits and countersuits. But there's little cited let alone credible evidence to indicate that the court battles have spilled over into any of Apple's supplier relationships with Samsung. ETNews puts it this way: "Since the retina version of New iPad [third-generaion 9.7-inch iPad], Samsung Display had been sidelined from Apple's new product development projects, allegedly because of Samsung's lawsuit against Apple and Cooks reshuffle of supply chain."
According to ETNews' vaguely described sources, Samsung Display will be one of three panel suppliers, with LG Display and Sharp.
The ETNews post says the iPad mini 2 with Retina display will launch in calendar Q3 and the 9.7-inch model in, apparently, Q4.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.