updated 02:10 pm EST, Wed December 23, 2009
Tablet shown early to ready developers
Rumors of an Apple tablet in January gained fuel again today with a rumor elaborating on the company's supposed plans. A "plugged-in" contact for SAI says Apple has been asking some developers to prepare apps that could be demonstrated on a larger handheld device next month. It's not clear whether these are ports, though coders are being told that iPhone apps will work properly as long as they're not coded for a fixed size, clearly indicating a screen resolution higher than 480x320.
The unveiling would take place in January but wouldn't have devices shipping right away as Apple is believed to be giving developers time to optimize their apps for the larger size. Most rumors have Apple's mystery device shipping in March and, if accurate, would imply that Apple doesn't anticipate major changes for apps beyond the display.
All these claims synchronize with those that suggest the tablet would run the iPhone OS and plug in almost directly into Apple's ecosystem. Some issues such as size still remain up for debate, as many have pinpointed a 10-inch device while a rumor today has alluded to a 7-inch screen. A simple porting process would favor the latter as a 10-inch screen is likely to have a much larger resolution and break expectations for the interface.
Doubts have been cast on a January event as Apple's exit from Macworld was partly justified by its resistance to announcing products on a fixed schedule, but the company when it dropped its plans also said it was shifting its focus away from third-party trade shows where it can't control the specific day or conditions of the launch; its timing doesn't necessarily preclude a January release.
A release of the sort pits any Apple offering directly against a sudden wave of competitors that are likely to appear at CES, including the Android-based Dell Streak and the ASUS Eee Pad.