Source Reveals: Apple’s Upcoming Portable Wireless Capable
I have some new insight to share with you regarding the portable device Apple is working on. In a previous article, I described the mysterious portable as perhaps Apple’s rival product to the Intel Ultra Mobile PC ( UMPC ) initiative. In talking to several sources close to the secretive project, a few more details have emerged while the actual identity of the device is still shrouded in mystery.
First Some Background
I was first tipped on the existence of plans for a previously unknown Apple portable device, somewhat larger than the current iPhone, a few months ago. The device was described as having a touch screen and best suited to be gripped with both hands. A little later, another source provided a key piece of evidence that pointed to Apple working with the German company Balda on securing 5.2″ touch panels ( more than likely pre-production units ) for an unknown device. This tip was crucial in determining the approximate size of the device and where it best fits in the Apple product lineup. Balda is one of a handful of companies that design and manufacture ( in Xiamen, China) high scratch and shatter resistant, multi-touch capable displays for mobile handsets and is thought to have received orders for Apple iPhone. However, Balda’s financial troubles and its recent sale to KS Plastic Solutions cast doubts on its future as a supplier to Apple. The final contract to produce these panels may be in fact be awarded to Wintek, an Asian component supplier, or Samsung, the electronics giant which also has the multi-touch technology.
What We Know Now
In the previous article, I concluded that the mysterious device could be an ultra-portable Mac and the expectations were that Apple may officially announce its support for the new Intel Silverthorne processor at Macworld ’08 and/or the iPhone SDK may see an early release. Why Silverthorne and the SDK? The new Intel Silverthorne is ideally suited for ultra-portable computing devices such as this one, hence substantially clarifying the purpose of the device. The iPhone SDK would have also provided crucial insight into the capabilities of the present Apple touch-sensitive platform including possible support for larger screens and/or alternative input methods. However neither of these 2 scenarios played out, in fact the release of the iPhone SDK was officially pushed back to the end of February. This prompted me to further inquire to see if there’s a connection between this portable device and the SDK. According to my sources, the new device is more than likely based on Apple’s current portable platform ( ie. iPhone/Touch ) and once the SDK is released, a little digging inside the platform interface should reveal the extent of the platform’s capabilities and Apple’s plans for the portable multi-touch lineup. Moreover, 3G is part of the device specs with WiFi included as well.
What We Can Conclude
Based on what we know to date, the mysterious device resembles less an Ultra Mobile Mac and more an upper model iPhone or a more capable next gen iPod Touch. In other words, the portable’s hardware seem to suggest not a fully capable and portable Mac but a device which depends heavily on wireless connectivity. Likely it’s Apple’s version of the Intel MID ( Mobile Internet Device ) showcased at CES ’08. With the limited wireless sharing of content between machines premiering on the optical drive-less MacBook Air, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple introduced a device that lets users pull media content from their computers and play on a thin portable client and even run small native apps using the device’s limited resources. Such a device is likely a year from introduction although, due to its 3G capability, may be introduced a full six months before being shipped ( similar to iPhone ) to clear the FCC hurdle.