iPad 5 rumour rollup for the week

John Cox
6 April, 2013
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If you don’t know what the Next iPad will be like, you can at least know when it’s going to be announced. This week: the iPad 5 Dating Game, iOSphere-style.

Except for May, each month between now and the end of October is being proclaimed as the Time of Unveiling for the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2. Each one is supported by the incisive reasoning and reasoned insight for which the iOSphere is justly notorious.

Welcome to Surreality.

Also this week, the highly anticipated improvements to the iPad 5 camera’s autofocus feature.

You read it here second.

iPad 5 will be released between March 3 and October 30…probably

We’re now entering Surreality, which you can think of as the iOSphere equivalent of Augmented Reality.

In his own rumour roundup at GottaBeMobile, Josh Smith sums it up well, without realising how surreal it sounds: “The iPad 5 release date is rumored for almost every month between now and October. In fact, the only month without a rumored iPad 5 release date is May.”

What this means is that only one of those months is correct but we, and the people making their claims, have No Idea, which one it is. Smith doesn’t seem to get this, being oblivious to the absurdity of solemnly and endlessly posting about announcement date rumours that proclaim different dates by sources as varied and reliable as stock price analysts, the Apple supply chain, third-party iPad case manufacturers and the brother-in-law whose friend works with a guy who plays golf with the manager of coffee shop where he heard a janitor from one of Apple’s supply chain companies talking about overhearing a secretary referring to a rumour she read on GottaBeMobile.

But Technorati’s Adam Landonn is on the case. In his post, he notes first the now legendary June 29 “Original Passion, New Ideas” announcement date “reported” by Gizmorati.

And then, there’s this.

“After the June 29th date was mentioned, many other rumors started to support it,” Landonn says. Among them: CNET’s account of a claim by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster; a Digitimes post about “Apple’s supply chain will start shipping the components for the iPhone 5S at the end of May, so the next generation smartphone will likely have a chance of showing up in the third quarter;” and MacRumors’ account of KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Ku, who predicts a “late June release.”

So you can ignore all that complicated stuff like judging the credibility and quality of rumours and, instead, just count them to discover what’s going to happen.

iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be released on April or May

International Business Times wasn’t content to just count rumours. It, you know, analysed everything before finally concluding that “It then stands to reason that the new iPads are far more likely to land in spring of 2013, or what’s left of it,” as Kristin Dian Mariano writes.

For those of us who are calendarly-challenged, she helpfully explains what that actually means. “That would mean a press event sometime in April or May and a release date shortly thereafter.”

Analysis in the iOSphere typically means taking certain indisputable facts, inflating them with completely unfounded assumptions and speculation and then using them as a trampoline to jump further to conclusions than the Voyager I space satellite has traveled through space (currently about 123.48 astronomical units, with one AU being 149,597,870.7 km, as of March 2013).

The important point to remember, to preserve one’s sanity, is to not analyse the analysis, a point we’re going to ignore.

Mariano begins by noting that “iPad tablets had traditionally been spring launches for Apple.” Apparently three years is the minimum needed for a “tradition.” Spring being autumn in Australia. But the tradition didn’t last long.

“In 2011, Apple began releasing the iPhone in the fall, and last year [October 2012] surprised consumers by also releasing the iPad mini and iPad 4 at a separate fall event.” This means, Mariano says, that the “next generation iPad models are suddenly up in the air as to when they will see their release date.”

But only to those who lack the experience, insight and analytical powers of true iOSpherians.

“As April came and still no sign whether the company will release any device soon, some are wondering if Apple is eyeing the summer for its next round of new iPads,” Mariano writes. “But with the new iPhone now occupying that spot, it more likely signals that the new iPads will be shifted to either the spring or fall in order to space out the rollouts.”

She accepts as “confirmed” the unsubstantiated rumours that one or more new iPhones are now scheduled for June 2013 announcement. And she ignores the fact that Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 just over a month before the latest iPads, on Sept. 12, 2012.

So summer (or winter in Australia) is out. She doesn’t think much of the spring date because “that would mean a full year between iPad and iPad mini generations even as Apple is shortening its iPhone generational schedule to about nine months.” Remember that the idea that Apple is shortening the period between iPhone announcements is based on nothing more than the rumour of a June 2013 announcement. The only actual evidence for any shorter product cycle is…the fourth-generation iPad announced in October 2012, a little over seven months after the third-generation tablet with Retina Display.

The conclusion is obvious.

“It then stands to reason that the new iPads are far more likely to land in [autumn] of 2013, or what’s left of it,” Mariano concludes.

By this time, one feels that one’s brain has been put through a garlic press.

“It stands to reason” is an iOSphere analytical convention that lets you paint yourself into a corner and consider it a job well done. Like much of the other iOSphere “analysis” of when Apple will announce products, Mariano’s is a tissue of ignorance, simplistic assumptions, unfounded not to mention unwarranted speculation, and the faux logic that is a hallmark of rumour sites.

iPad mini 2 will be released in Q3

Boldly rehashing what others have hashed before, PhonesReview claims that, as its headline puts it, “iPad mini 2 likely Q3 release reinforced.”

The anonymous post is simply a delayed recycling of a recent post at Digitimes, creating the impression of a new “report.” The Digitimes original cited anonymous “industry sources” as saying that iPad mini component shipments, and therefore finished tablet shipments, will drop by about 20% during the April-June period. The reason given is that Apple is preparing for the iPad mini 2 announcement and doesn’t want to be left with millions of unsold units of the current mini.

Shipments between suppliers or between suppliers and Apple are not the same thing as final sales to end users.

“Although DigiTimes has a mixed record of accuracy as far as Apple leaks are concerned, this report does make sense and indeed goes on to say that reserves of the tablet are being amended in time for the next-generation iPad mini,” according to the PhonesReview post, an observation which pretty much reveals that the PhonesReview author has not the faintest idea whether any of this true or even realistic. “The same sources believe a Q3 release of the iPad mini 2 is likely.”

There is a surface plausibility to all this, since minimising inventory and efficiently managing a supply chain are necessary business disciplines, which can be done well or less well. But the very complexity of such inter-relationships, which are hardly ever visible except in Digitimes’ vague and anonymous industry sources, make it very difficult to assess what Apple – or any other big company – actually is doing there, let alone why they’re doing it.

iPad 5 will have “dynamic autofocus” camera

A new Apple patent application to improve a camera’s “dynamic autofocus operations” is already being interpreted as a being slated for the iPad 5.

The government publication of the patent was picked up by PatentlyApple.

“The invention specifically pertains to systems, methods, and computer readable media for dynamically adjusting an image capture device’s autofocus (AF) operation based, at least in part, on the device’s orientation,” according to Jack Purcher’s summary.

He seems to repeat language from the patent without shedding much light on what Apple actually proposes to do differently, apart from somehow “using orientation information.” This is typical of a lot of the iOSphere commentary on the technical details of Apple patent applications. Basically, the company seems to be making autofocusing faster or “improving the operation’s resolution” or possibly both.

But in the iOSphere, that’s all you need. A Pakistan-based copy-paste-jabber site called TheNewsTribe invites us to “Imagine you are trying to take the photo of your lovely baby from your smartphone or tablet, but due to his or her nonstop movement you seem helpless taking a clear and bright photo.”

Woe is us.

“The problem is not the movement of the kid, as they are created with full of energy to do this, but the incapability of your smartphone or tablet to autofocus (AF) the scene,” explains Shahid Abbasi. And Apple has a “smart solution” of course: “The Dynamic Autofocus Operations for the handheld devices to make cameras smart enough to take even moving object or to take quick photo with a clear view.”

Since the new technology “generally relates to the field of digital camera processing,” that means “it could be used not only with upcoming iPhone 5S and the flagship iPhone 6 but also with iPad 5, iPad mini 2 and next generation iDevices,” he concludes, triumphantly. No more blurry baby problems.

In July 2012, Apple was granted another autofocus-related patent, this one called “Auto focus speed enhancement using object recognition and resolution.” It could be applied using a processor that adjusts a moveable lens system based on 1) a previously captured image of a face that most nearly matches the face to be photographed and 2) the lens focus position associated with the earlier face. It sets the lens to that position and takes the picture.

This will doubtless shave milliseconds from the photographic process. It’s difficult to contain one’s excitement.

John Cox. Network World.

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