Archive of iPad Rumors

ipad_air_family_20136After almost removing itself from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry two years ago, Apple is now leading the charge into the program's new Tablets/Slates category.

As of today, Apple's four iPad models account for 134 of the 135 tablets on the list, although the number of entries appear to be growing nearly by the minute. While Apple is represented by the various configurations of the iPad Air, the iPad mini, the iPad with Retina display and the iPad mini with Retina display, the sole non-iPad model currently on the list is the Dell Venue 11 Pro.

In a blog post announcing the new category earlier this week, Green Electronics Council CEO Robert Frisbee hailed the early inclusion of more than 100 tablets without mentioning that essentially all of them were Apple products.
We are pleased at Participating Manufacturers’ enthusiasm to register these new products. In less than one week more than 100 slates/tablets have been registered in EPEAT, and we expect to see many more in the weeks and months to come. These products are an exciting addition to EPEAT and an important step into reducing the environmental impacts of a major new product type. We are confident the new products are leaders in their category.
Apple has a bit of a rocky history with EPEAT, notifying the environmental assessment service in 2012 that it was withdrawing its products from the registry. At the time, Apple cited "changes in its design direction which were no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements" as the reason for this removal request.

Apple quickly reversed its decision after businesses, municipalities and other Apple customers publicly decried the withdrawal decision. EPEAT also responded with a pledge to work with Apple and possibly adapt its judging standards to be more compatible with the company's cutting edge product designs.

Apple's product lineup is now represented in several EPEAT categories, including desktops, notebooks, displays, integrated desktop computers, and tablets/slates. The company has earned a gold star rating for all of its eligible products, including its difficult-to-repair MacBook Pro with Retina display. This controversial gold rating has prompted some groups to accuse EPEAT of lowering its standards in order to include Apple on the list.
Earlier this week, photos claiming to be of a new Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector surfaced. The images were said to be sourced from Apple supplier Foxconn, and were shown in a production stage. Now, frequent iOS device part leaker Sonny Dickson shares a new photo of the accessory, further indicating that a new Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector may be on the horizon:

new_lightning_cable_sd
The current Lightning cable (left) compared to new Lightning cable (right)

While the USB connector on the current Lightning cable is attached to the bottom of its metal housing, the connector of the supposedly newer cable is attached to the center. The structure of the newer cable was also spotted in previous photos, and likely indicates that this is a reversible USB connector. It is also therefore possible that the new Lightning cable could utilize USB 3.0 technology, as current Lightning cables support only USB 2.0. However, no other evidence suggests that the cable could be of the USB 3.0 variety.

Apple could start shipping new cables alongside forthcoming iOS devices starting with the iPhone 6. In addition to a reversible connector, the new Lightning cable could also feature support for high-definition audio playback on Made for iPhone accessories as rumored by Mac Otakara earlier this year. That report further claimed that Apple was preparing a new version of its In-Ear Headphones, which have not been updated since 2008.

Apple also introduced Lightning Cable MFi specifications for headphones in June, paving the way for manufacturers to create products that connect directly to iOS devices via their Lightning port rather than through a regular 3.5mm headphone jack. Those products could also see integration with revamped Lightning cables.
Apple's suppliers are gearing up to begin producing the next-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, reports Bloomberg. Production for the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is underway and according to the site's sources, the tablet will debut towards the end of the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter. Production of the 7.9-inch Retina iPad mini 2 is also said to be beginning soon.

August production dates for both tablets are in line with rumors that have suggested the new iPads will be unveiled at a fall event (possibly October) that follows Apple's September 9 iPhone event.

ipad_air_2_replica_touch_id
iPad Air 2 Mockup

Apple's iPad Air 2 may see some manufacturing issues that restrict available supply, however, due to a new anti-reflection coating that's being added to the tablet. The coating is said to make the iPad's screen easier to read.
Output of the larger iPad may be restricted by manufacturing complications related to the use of a new anti-reflection coating, which Apple plans to add to the device to make the display easier to read, said one of the people.
According to recent rumors, the iPad Air 2 and the second-generation Retina iPad mini will both feature form factors that are largely the same as Apple's existing iPad Air and Retina mini. The iPad Air may see some minor design tweaks including a new speaker grille with a single row of larger holes and a slightly recessed set of volume buttons.

Both tablets are expected to get upgraded A8 processors that are both faster and more efficient and Touch ID fingerprint sensors. The iPad Air may also gain an improved 8-megapixel camera.
Taiwan-based accessory maker Yi Lin Enterprises has posted new photos on Weibo showing the purported rear shell of Apple's iPad Air 2 (Google Translate, via Mac Otakara). The images show off a gold housing with a number of design changes, including a new speaker grille with larger holes and a relocated rear microphone alongside the iSight camera.

purported_ipad_air_2_rear_shell
Last month, an alleged "perfect replica" of the iPad Air 2 surfaced, showing off a Touch ID home button for the device and recessed volume buttons along with the same refined speaker grille. The prototype followed the leak of a supposed front panel from the iPad Air 2 this past April, which showed an integrated display that may hint at a thinner form factor for the tablet.

Apple's iPad Air 2 is expected to launch alongside the iPad mini 3 later this year, and is expected to include a faster A8 processor in addition to the aforementioned Touch ID fingerprint sensor and refined physical features. Rumors have also suggested that Apple is working on a larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, however recent reports have indicated that plans for the tablet may be on hold for the foreseeable future.
Looking at Apple's quarterly SEC quarterly filing, Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley believes Apple's revenue is poised to explode in the coming quarters. Huberty based her prediction on increases in Apple's off-balance sheet commitments, which have a historical correlation with revenue growth.

Off-balance sheet commitments are those investments in components and services that are involved in the mass production and launch of new devices. These line items include component purchases, manufacturing process equipment investments, advertising, and other services. Huberty notes that Apple's total spending in these areas has climbed 46 percent yearly and 36 percent quarterly in fiscal Q3 2014, making last quarter's jump the largest spending increase since Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007.

huberty-off-balance sheet commitments
Huberty, not surprisingly, attributes this spending increase to Apple's iPhone 6 and iWatch wearable, both of which are expected to launch later this year. These new products, along with services such as mobile payments, could accelerate growth and boost margins.
Apple has the opportunity to take share in slower growth smartphone and tablet markets with larger screens and new services. New product categories like iWatch, and services like payments could further boost growth.
Apple is rumored to be launching its next-generation iPhone 6, refreshed iPad models and a new iWatch smartwatch later this year. The company may also update its Mac hardware to coincide with the debut of OS X Yosemite.
China media sources (via GforGames) report that mass production of Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone is underway ahead of the phone's expected fall launch. These same sources claim the 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 has not entered mass production, further suggesting that the launch timeframe for this larger iPhone model is still uncertain.

iphone_5s_6_grass
Besides the iPhone 6, Apple also is preparing the next-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini for mass production starting in September. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPads, possibly alongside the iWatch, at an October event that also will likely be used to announce the public release of OS X Yosemite.

As Apple prepares to launch new iPhones and iPads later this year, the company's Asian suppliers are gearing up to boost production by as much as 85 percent by Q4 2014. Some of this increased production may be handled by Foxconn robots, "Foxbots", with the company reportedly deploying as many as 10,000 robots at a cost of up to $25,000 each.

Anticipation for Apple's fall lineup of devices is high, fueled by comments from Apple executives that suggest the company will enter new product categories with a device lineup that is the best it has had in 25 years.
During today's earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared new information on the state of the iPad, including details on overall sales since the product launched a little over four years ago, recent growth in different markets, and hints at future plans. It was revealed earlier that sales of the iPad were down for the second straight quarter in a row, as the company sold a total of 13.3 million iPads, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

ipad_air_family_20136
Cook said that iPad sales have totaled to 225 million units since 2010, as the current iPad Air and iPad mini have hit 98% and 100% customer satisfaction, respectively. According to recent market studies, 63% of customers planning to buy a tablet are planning to buy an iPad, while half of all iPad buyers were planning to buy their first iPad.

Additionally, Apple noted that 2.5 iPads are being sold for every Mac, as the tablet now holds an 85% share of the U.S. education market. Internationally, the iPad also experienced a 50% growth in China and 60% growth in the Middle East year-over-year.

In reaction to iPad sales being down, Cook noted "significant innovation can be brought to the iPad", stating "[Apple] plans on doing that" and that the tablet category as a whole is still "in its infancy." Recent reports have pointed to Apple launching updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini later this year, with each likely to come with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a faster A8 processor.

The company is also rumored to be preparing a larger "iPad Pro" which is said to feature a 12.9-inch ultra high-definition display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the iPad Pro in 2015, but a recent report noted that Apple's plans may be on hold for the foreseeable feature.
Apple's iPad may be the cause of unexplained allergic rashes in children, reports The Washington Post, which cites a case study of an 11-year-old boy that was published in Pediatrics medical journal.

retina_ipad_mini_colors_front_back
The Pediatrics article focuses on an 11-year-old boy who may be allergic to the nickel used in the casing of the tablet device. Following the increasing use of an iPad, the patient developed a rash that would not respond to conventional treatment.
His skin tested positive for nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, and doctors traced it back to an iPad he had used with increasing frequency the past six months. The iPad tested positive for nickel as well, according to the report.
Doctors advised the boy to use a Smart Case that covers the entire outer surface of the tablet. Similar to other reports of electronic device-induced rashes, the boy's skin condition improved significantly when he started using a case that prevented direct contact with the device.

As noted by the Associated Press, nickel allergies in children appear to be on the rise, with 25 percent of those receiving skin tests testing positive for nickel allergies, up from 17 percent a decade ago.

This iPad isn't the only device implicated in skin rashes. Earlier this year, Fitbit voluntarily recalled its Force fitness tracker after a growing number of users developed contact dermatitis from wearing the band. The rash was originally attributed to nickel in the charging port of the band, but that metal may not be involved as many users covered the nickel-containing port with tape and continued to experience a rash.

Update 3:00 PM PT: Apple has provided a statement to The Wall Street Journal noting that its products meet strict standards set for jewelry by the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission.
"Apple's products are made from the highest quality materials and meet the same strict standards set for jewelry by both the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission and their counterparts in Europe," Apple said.
iphone_5s_touch_idA report from China Times (via GforGames) claims Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is expanding its 8-inch chip plant in order to produce Touch ID sensors for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. TSMC is planning to produce 120 million Touch ID units in 2014, a 233 percent year over year increase as the sensor expands beyond the flagship iPhone to other iOS devices.

In line with a previous report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, today's report claims Apple and TSMC are using tin to increase the durability of the sensor compared to the current version found in the iPhone 5s.

Supply chain sources say TSMC is scaling its mass production of new Touch ID units to begin delivery to Apple by early July, with third quarter production more than doubling over the previous quarter. A previous report had indicated that the first shipments of new Touch ID sensors began by early May, but these may still have been early batches for testing.

Similar to the iPhone's Touch ID, the iPad version will support the expanded functionality made possible by iOS 8's new SDK that allows third-party apps to access the fingerprint scanner for verification purposes. Touch ID also is rumored to be part of a mobile payment system under development by Apple.

Recent leaks hint at how the next-generation iPad Air and iPad Mini may appear with a Touch ID module and other design refinements such as a changed speaker grille and recessed volume buttons.
Apple.club.tw shares an image of what appears to be models of the next generation iPhone, iPad Mini, and iPad Air.

ipad6
The iPhone 6 models have already been covered extensively, while we got the first glimpse of the purported iPad Air 2 just last week. The iPad Air 2 model was shown to depict Touch ID, changed speaker grille, and recessed volume buttons.

The new image doesn't reveal any more details except the depiction of Touch ID on the new iPad mini. This year's iPads have been widely expected to gain Touch ID capabilities. Apple first introduced the Touch ID fingerprint scanning system with the iPhone 5S, and will be extending it to allow Apps to begin using it with iOS 8.
While Apple is widely expected to expand use of its Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the iPad Air and iPad mini later this year, new photos of an alleged "perfect replica" of the second-generation iPad Air shared by Nowhereelse.fr [Google Translate] hint that there may be a few additional changes in store for the device.

ipad_air_2_replica_touch_id
The replica, which is making the rounds in China and Japan, unsurprisingly depicts a Touch ID home button for the device, but also shows some tweaks to physical features around the edges of the device, including a new speaker grille with a single row of larger holes on each side of the Lightning port as opposed to the current double row of smaller holes on the iPad.

ipad_air_2_replica_speaker
Another difference lies in the volume buttons which are shown slightly recessed into the edge of the case, compared to the current design that sees buttons protruding slightly from a flush holes machines in the device's shell. Nowhereelse.fr mentions that the mute switch is also missing, although there is a small hole where the feature is usually located. Unfinished protoype and mockup parts sometimes feature these pilot holes to guide machining of the final hole.

ipad_air_2_replica_volume
Updated iPads are expected to launch later this year, with October being Apple's usual timeframe for such launches over the past couple of years. The latter part of 2014 is expected to be a busy one for Apple, with rumors of launches for the iPhone 6, new iPads, the iWatch, and perhaps some Mac updates such as the company's rumored 12-inch Retina MacBook Air.
ipad_air_family_20136Displays for Apple's next-generation iPad Air are set to begin production this month, reports Korean site ETNews [Google Translation] (via AmongTech), with other major parts such as the camera module also set to enter production soon.

Apple's second iPad Air is expected to continue to feature the same featherweight design introduced with the first iPad Air, using the same 9.7-inch Retina LCD with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. LG Display will begin production on the displays in June, with Samsung and Sharp ramping up production next month.

Though the next-generation iPad Air will not see any design changes, it may see some hardware improvements in the form of an upgraded 8-megapixel rear camera, an improvement over the current 5-megapixel camera. It may incorporate the same 8-megapixel camera used in the iPhone 5s, which also includes a larger sensor for improved low-light performance. iOS 8 will also bring photography updates to both Apple's existing and next-generation iPad Airs, in the form of new panoramic and time-lapse modes.

Along with a better camera, the iPad Air is unsurprisingly expected to include an upgraded A8 processor to improve both performance and battery life and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor first introduced with the iPhone 5s.

It is unclear when Apple plans to release its second-generation iPad Air, but rumors have pointed towards a release in September or October, which would be in line with previous iPad releases. Apple's Retina iPad mini is expected to be updated at the same time, featuring many of the same improvements.