The January Wolf Moon this past week has set the iOSsphere howling with iPad 3 rumors.
Yes, the Next iPad might have been seen at or near the Consumer Electronics Show, but you need a micrometer to tell the difference; the Chinese proletariat are busy as beavers assembling it; Siri for iPad is seen but alas not heard; and iPad 3 will help stem the tide of orangutan depression. (Catch up with our iPad 3 rumor rollup for the week ending Jan. 3 too.)
You read it here second.
"To be honest, it's very difficult to tell at this stage of the game. It could be any of the above, none, or all three - we just don't know."
~ Richard Goodwin, KnowYourMobile, on what a recent iPad rumor means, after he firmly declared it fact.
Is this an iPad 3 which I see before me at CES?
You'll never know, according to Jeremy Horwitz, editor-in-chief, iLounge.com, who began a Tuesday blogpost with the sensational claim, "Yesterday, one day ahead of the 2012 CES, I saw what's supposedly the next-generation iPad."
"I'd show you a picture, but there's honestly nothing to be seen," he continues. "Think iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S: this device so resembles the iPad 2 that differences are only obvious when they're placed next to each other. From the back, you could walk past this new iPad on display and have no idea that anything had changed."
Can it be true? Will Apple actually announce an "iPad 2S?"
His glimpse of whatever-it-was, which he somehow estimated to be about 6 months old, revealed to him that the next iPad's body is "roughly 1 mm" thicker than the current iPad, which would look like this. For the metrically challenged, that would be 0.03937 inches, or the thickness of JVCC FELT-06 Polyester Felt Tape.
Not much in terms of "major" or "radical" redesign here: "On the rear, the camera in the upper left corner has become bigger — noticeably so when placed alongside the iPad 2, but not so huge that anyone would think they were different at a distance," according to Horwitz. "The new camera hole is silver-ringed, and does in fact look the same size as the iPhone 4S's much-improved rear camera system, minus the LED flash."
SCUTTLEBUTT: iPhone 5 rumor roundup for week ending Jan. 6
A silver-ringed camera hole? Could this be the advent of the iYawn 3?
Basically, if you've seen the iPad 2, you know what iPad 3 will look like "apart, of course, from the screen," Horwitz adds. "That's going to be Apple's big focus when the new device is announced, but I didn't see it."
Horwitz wants to dial down the sensationalism. "While it would be exciting to lead with a sensational 'I touched the iPad 3!' headline, I feel obliged to mention a couple of things to put the information above in proper perspective," he says. To us, the "I saw what's supposedly the next-generation iPad" seems a bit sensational, but perhaps that's a quibble.
So he mentions, first, that "these changes are so modest that Apple could easily call this device the "iPad 2S" or "iPad 2HD" if it wanted to start the lettering game with its tablets." The dreaded "S." And secondly, he mentions that "the screen and other major internal changes could collectively justify the "iPad 3" moniker, but we'll see."
But technically, as with the iPhone 4S, we won't see since all the big changes will be internal. And we know how well that went over....
Workerbees in China are assembling iPad 3 right now
"Pegatron and Foxconn reportedly begin assembly of iPad 3 with Sharp display, launching in early-March," is the headline for Christian Zibreg's, ah, report for 9to5Mac, validating the iOSsphere hall-of-mirrors effect of reflecting rumors through enough cross posting until they appear to be more like news than gossip.
Zibreg bases his post on a Japanese language post at Macotakara, "which can be accurate with Apple rumor reporting," Zibreg notes in passing, apparently oblivious to the fact that he's damning with very, very faint praise. Zibreg says Macotakara says that "Apple's contract manufacturers Foxconn Electronics (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry) and Pegatron Technology have issued orders to begin assembly of next-generation iPads for an early-March launch." Both companies are big Taiwan-based OEMs with sprawling plants located in The People's Republic of China.
The basis for Macotakara's post is "unnamed Chinese sources."
According to Google Translate, the original Japanese language post translates thusly:
"According to Chinese sources, Pegatron Technology and Foxconn Technology are the next as the iPad started manufacturing 85% and 15% at a rate equal to the number of manufacturing planning iPhone 4S."
The Chinese New Year gets factored in somehow, according to Macotakara: "This is the Chinese New Year in 2012, earlier than usual, January 23 (7 of 28 holiday and 1 January 22), so one of the reasons you can do to accelerate the production of the iPad possible. The initial production run using a Sharp LCD panel, so planning is aiming to ship in early March."
Unless...the recent Chinese worker mass suicide threat spreads like a contagion from Foxconn's Microsoft Xbox assembly factory to the Apple iPad assembly factory. "Suicidal Foxconn workers talked down from factory roof," according to TheRegister.
Siri coming to iPad 3
It "looks like" Apple is working on Siri Dictation and maybe more for the iPad, possibly exclusively for iPad 3.
That's the conclusion of Mark Gurman's 9to5Mac post, which found still more arcane references deep in the iOS 5.1 beta 3 release. "[W]e have discovered something potentially major: Siri Dictation references," Gurmon posts. "Our own tipster Sonny Dickson was looking through the iOS 5.1 beta 3 settings application on the iPad and discovered a new section in the keyboard menu called 'About Privacy and Dictation.' When opened, as shown above [in accompany screenshots], the iPad provides the user with the standard legal literature and feature information for Siri Dictation."
Sounds like a slam dunk, alright.
"Dictation is not actually functional on the iPad 2 running iOS 5.1 beta 3, so perhaps this will be an iOS 5.1 launch feature for the iPad, or it may be an iPad 3-exclusive feature," Gurman ruminates. The iPhone 4S, the first iOS device to incorporate Siri as part of the iOS firmware, lacks this newly discovered menu. And that, in turn means, potentially, a lot of things. It could "weaken concerns that this new iPad Dictation menu is simply carried over code from the iPhone 4S" or the iPad may be limited to just Siri Dictation." Or something.
"Separately, we heard months ago that Apple was internally prototyping a version of the full Siri experience for the iPad, but have not heard any new developments since," Gurman writes.
It was up to Richard Goodwin at KnowYourMobile to turn this somewhat dispiriting speculation into red-blooded rumor. "Siri will almost certainly feature aboard Apple's third-generation iPad device, the iPad 3," he declares robustly, linking to Gurman's post.
And he takes a crack at explaining What It All Means, too.
"So what does all this mean?" he asks, and keeps asking. "Will Apple finally begin putting Siri on its tablet devices, including the original iPad and iPad 2? Or will it just be the iPad 3 that gets the virtual assistant? Could Siri be an iPhone 4S-only feature?"
And here's the answer. "To be honest, it's very difficult to tell at this stage of the game," he admits. But he does have a firm grasp of logic. "It could be any of the above, none, or all three - we just don't know," he posts. "But what is interesting is that some kind of 'Dictation' is coming to the iPad. Of course this automatically smacks of Siri but this still might not be the case."
Something is coming to iPad. You can take that to the bank.
iPad 3 release will free up used iPads for under-served market: orangutans
"With the release of the Apple iPad 3 rumored for March, a bunch of first- and second-generation iPads are probably about to hit the secondary market," according to John Platt, for Scientific American.
And that's good news for an underserved, emerging market. "Some of them just might end up in the hands of orangutans," Platt says.
A non-profit group called Orangutan Outreach collects donated iPads for its new "Apps for Apes" program, AFA "matches" put the tablets with primates at the Milwaukee County Zoo. It's matching because, according to Platt, the "apes don't get to hold the iPads themselves — the devices aren't strong enough to withstand the full strength of an orangutan — but they do get to interact with the computers through glass walls or the mesh of their cages."
Like this, which seems like cruelty to animals, in our opinion. And is he really suggesting that Corning Gorilla Glass, tough but beautiful, can't stand up to apes?
So what do orangutans do with their iPads? Apparently the same thing you do. "So far, the animals have been watching videos of themselves and playing with simple games or an app for finger painting."
But there's more. "They might one day also be able to connect to animals in other parts of the zoo — or even other zoos — through Skype or programs like it," according to Platt. He doesn't mention Facetime, which is just as well, since it raises the specter of an Anthony Weiner-style ape-sexting episode.
The iPads are a therapeutic tool. "Orangutans in captivity can get depressed and lethargic," says Orangutan Outreach Director Richard Zimmerman. Stimulating them with an iPad "helps keep their minds active and prevents boredom."
There's a new Apple marketing campaign there, somewhere.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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