updated 08:25 am EDT, Thu April 5, 2012
Mini iPad one of Apple's experiments
Talk of a 7.85-inch iPad was revived again after historically accurate John Gruber mentioned in a podcast that it was supposedly still in testing. He told The Talk Show co-host Dan Benjamin that he had heard from numerous insiders that the smaller size was "one of the ideas they're noodling with." The design he understood had the same 1024x768 resolution as the iPad 2, just scaled down to the lower physical size.
To visualize the size, he suggested a trick that he had mentioned in the past when hearing of the 7.85-inch size only through outside reports. Capturing a screenshot of the iPad in portrait orientation and flipping the image to landscape gives an approximate idea as to how big the screen would be, he said. While it was possible some text might be small, it wouldn't be unusably so. The width of current iPads should roughly represent the length of the mini tablet.
Whether or not the tablet is actively in development wasn't mentioned by any of Gruber's contacts and wouldn't be certain. Apple is well-known for substantial development of ideas that never become public, even cancelling them just days before they would be announced. The company's late co-founder Steve Jobs is well known for having sharply criticized seven-inch tablets and might have discouraged any development.
However, the slightly larger screen and competition from the Kindle Fire may have altered the situation by giving Apple a reason to undercut cheaper tablets while still preserving its intended experience. Jobs was likewise well known for feints where he would insist no one wanted a speculated device, such as a video iPod or an Apple-made phone, only to turn around and produce it once market dynamics and technology let him introduce hardware he could endorse.