The iSlate Will Be Announced In

January 6, 2010

iSlate Coming

Well well. It looks like we're on the verge of receiving a giant "iPhone" from good old Steve. Here's the skinny and what might happen:

Several sources close to iPhonePOV have reported that the product will be announced in the last week of January (though there is some disagreement about whether that will happen on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week). A source for Bloomberg is corroborating that an Apple tablet will be unveiled at the end of the month. Echoing a report from Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Bloomberg's source also says that the as-yet-unnanounced tablet will go on sale in March, so consumers shouldn't have much of a wait to get their hands on the device. (Incidentally, Bloomberg's source once dated iPhonePOV's source, so we're inclined to believe this is all true.)

Apple is also expected to unveil an SDK and tablet "simulator" for developers to prepare apps for the new device, according to sources for French Mac website Mac4Ever. The SDK may already be in the hands of a select number of developers asked by Apple to modify existing iPhone apps to work with a larger screen. Those apps would be demoed during the product announcement. (We have no source for this, but a little birdie told us, so we believe this is true, too.)

That developers could modify existing iPhone apps to work on the tablet suggests that it will have an interface and user interaction very similar to the iPhone. However, the tablet is expected to have at least some new "unexpected" UI features. Apparently that new UI will come with a steep learning curve, according to information supposedly gleaned from an anonymous Apple employee. (We don't believe this... If you don't count their numerous dysfunctional mouses (be they mighty or magic) Apple Inc. spends millions to reduce learning curves.)

"This person is an employee of Apple and had just had a meeting regarding some of the new things coming," a reader told Cult of Mac. "He/She would not go into details, but did say that he/she hoped we liked learning." That doesn't sound very Apple-y to us, but using the iPhone's onscreen keyboard, which is second nature now, took some getting used to initially. (We think the "hoped we liked learning" has more to do with the positioning of the devise--as a student aid for textbooks and classes--than the UI.)

Lastly, it looks like Verizon customers will finally get some Apple love. Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall cites several sources saying that rumors of a Verizon partnership for providing mobile networking for the device are in fact true. "The tablet will be supported by multiple carriers, Verizon and others," Marshall told Computerworld. "Definitely Verizon. I've been told that's a certainty." (This is hard to believe because very few internet devices (actually none) are compatible with multiple networks--some are technically capable of it, but that doesn't mean different competing telcoms will allow them on their networks.)

The rash of leaks from anonymous sources may be part of a concerted effort by Apple to keep the hype up in the face of numerous announcements of mobile products during CES this week—especially a rumored HP tablet set to be unveiled during tonight's keynote. Of course, Apple is officially keeping a tight lip about what's in store. "We are not going to comment on rumors and speculation," Apple spokeperson Steve Dowling told Bloomberg. (Hmmm... Isn't not commenting on rumors a form of commenting?)

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