This week the temperature spiked with a rumor that Apple will announce iPad 3 in early February, and that it will have LTE support and close integration with Facebook. But despite all that goodness, some dare to advise: Don't buy it!
You read it here second.
"While digging through firmware code is not a sure fire way of finding out exactly Apple is up to -- it has in the past yielded some results." -- Chris Parsons, iMore.com, on why it's worthwhile to pay close attention to cryptic mentions in iOS beta code.
iPad 3 being announced in early February
That's the optimistic take of, among others, Radu Tyrsina, posting for ITProPortal.com.
One must admit one's optimism is tempered by the fact that Tyrsina bases his post on a "fresh piece of information" from the ever-quotable Japanese Mac blog Macotakara. And it remains tempered despite the fact the Japanese blog claims to have two sources, and one of them is actually in the United States!
"According to Asian supplier and a source in United States, Apple seems to prepare to hold Special Event in early February. Because Chinese factory will be in holiday of New Year, then new product is considered to be released in early March," quotes Tyrsina, apparently with the help of Google Translate.
MORE SCUTTLEBUTT: Our latest iPhone 5 rumor roundup
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It seems a bit odd that Chinese factory workers who are assembling the product will be on holiday in the weeks leading up to the iPad 3 announcement (but we admit we're not experts on Chinese labor laws and conditions). That would suggest that either Apple already has all the iPad 3 units it needs for initial shipment or that, well, the rumor is wrong.
Bloomberg reported last week, citing one of "three people familiar with the product," that Apple's manufacturing partners are "ramping up production of the iPad 3 this month [January] and plan to reach full volumes by February," looking toward March shipments. Two of these sources said the iPad 3 will have Apple's quad-core processor.
"This more or less aligns with a previous report that the iPad 3 release may coincide with Steve Jobs' birthday on February 24th, in honour of the iconic former Apple CEO," Tyrsina opines, recycling one of the odder, and eternal, rumors. Every year from now on, we'll get rumors of Something Big to be announced on the anniversary of Jobs' birth or death.
iPad 3 will have LTE support, before the iPhone
The same Bloomberg report, and one of the same three sources, claims iPad 3 will make its appearance with an LTE radio option.
Forbes was one site that highlighted the claim this week, in a blog post headlined, "Apple's Next iPad Could Get 4G LTE Before iPhone."
According to Bloomberg's single source, "Apple is bringing LTE to the iPad before the iPhone because the tablet has a bigger battery and can better support the power requirements of the newer technology."
Forbes suggests the move is a kind of experiment, to work out any problems before Apple brings out an LTE-equipped iPhone 5 later this year: "By providing LTE support for the iPad 3 over the iPhone, Apple possibly wants to try and test as well as minimize the risk of any battery-related issue arising from the iPhone. The battery-related issues are more critical for the iPhone as they could potentially prevent one from making or receiving a call."
Not to mention that Verizon's own nascent LTE network is doing a pretty good job at times of preventing one from making or receiving a call.
iPad 3 models will have Facebook integration
The iOSsphere version of reading tea leaves is reading beta code and this week iMore found not just two previously mentioned "iPad 3 code names" but also "mentions" of Facebook.
Mentions, like tea leaves, aren't much on their own. They have to be read, interpreted, decoded, rumorfied.
"While digging through firmware code is not a sure fire way of finding out exactly Apple is up to -- it has in the past yielded some results," posts Chris Parsons. It has certainly yielded rumors.
The two code names found in the recent iOS 5.1 beta 3 release are J1AP and J2AP. Parson and others speculate that these "likely" refer to the Wi-Fi and cellular versions of iPad 3.
"Another tidbit of information found within the firmware is that Facebook is again being mentioned," Parson continues. "As we know it, iOS 4 was set to have Facebook integration but it was subsequently dropped from the OS when an agreement couldn't be reached between the two companies. Could there be more integration with Facebook coming or is this simply legacy code left around, just in case?"
Redmond Pie claims the Facebook integration will be "similar to the Twitter integration we have today." Presumably that means an Apple-blessed development framework specifically to blend Facebook features with a range of existing and new iOS apps, as Apple did with iOS 5 and Twitter.
The Twitter framework "removes many of the common obstacles encountered when accessing Twitter's API, including authentication and Tweet composition, and allows developers to focus on more meaningful levels of integration that enrich their application experiences," according to the Twitter developer site.
iPad 3 will have twice the resolution of iPad 2
Those tattling Taiwanese, of Apple's supply chain companies, are telling DigiTimes that iPad 3 will have a 9.7-inch display with 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution.
The displays are being supplied by LG Display and Sharp, and shipments of the units started in the last quarter of 2011, DigiTimes claims. The Taiwanese sources say the new display shipments will outstrip those of the iPad screens by Q2, and reach 10 million units per quarter by next September.
Apart from the resolution, the other issue is the pixels per inch (PPI, or pixel density). The iPhone 4S has a 3.5-inch screen, with 960-by-640-pixel resolution using Apple's Retina Display technology, which engineered smaller pixels, so more fit into the same space. The result is a PPI of 326.
But according to a couple of online PPI calculators, including this one, the iPad 3 would end up with 263 PPI, quite a bit less than what Apple currently labels as its Retina Display.
The DigiTimes sources say Apple has adjusted downward its iPad 2 display shipments, now estimated to be 25 million units in 2012, compared to 40 million display units for iPad 3.
Buying iPad 3 will be the biggest mistake of your life
That down-beat advice comes from Don Resinger, writing at eWeek, and offering 10 reasons not to buy it.
These include: "it might not be a major update," a.k.a. "they might try to fool you into buying the dreaded iPad 2S"; the iPad 2 will probably be cheaper; keep waiting -- for tablets running Android or Windows 8; consider an ultrabook or Amazon Kindle Fire; your employer might buy you one, and so on.
Our favorite: Wait for the iPad 4.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
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