Apple Tablet rumour round-up

Apple iTablet
The New York Times says "you will be very surprised how you interact with the new tablet."

For something that doesn't officially exist yet, the Apple iTablet is generating an awful lot of coverage - but this time there appears to be fire inside all the smoke.

After years of rumours it seems that the Apple iTablet will break cover in a matter of days.

So what do we really know about the most anticipated bit of technology since the USB lava lamp? Come with us as we filter the River of Rumour for the Shiny Nuggets of Truth.

1. The Apple Tablet is called the Apple iSlate

Apple definitely bought the domain name two years ago, and the Apple iSlate may run software called iGuide. Then again, Boy Genius Report reckons that the final name will be iTablet - but many people prefer iBook. As Apple doesn't make iBooks any more, the name would be perfect for an ebook-media-internet-thingummy.

2. The Apple iSlate release date is in March, or April, or maybe later than that

The Apple iSlate release date appears to be rather cloudy: while everyone agrees that the iSlate will finally be unveiled this month, it won't ship until March, or maybe April, or maybe later than that. As for a first look at the Apple iSlate - there's an Apple event on 27 January where it's expected that Steve Jobs will show off the tablet.

3. The Apple iSlate will be an ebook reader

The iGuide's trademark description specifically mentions books, magazines, newsletters and journals, so the Apple iSlate will be pitched at least partly as an ebook reader.

According to Silicon Alley Insider Apple has already approached key iPhone developers and asked them to scale their apps for a bigger screen, and if that's true then the Apple iSlate will be running a variant of the iPhone OS complete with App Store.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple could revolutionise books and other "old media" content in much the same way as it did with music. The paper suggests Apple has already entered into discussions with content owners such as HarperCollins, Conde Nast and News Corp.

4. The Apple iSlate will have 3G and Wi-Fi, or maybe just Wi-Fi

Depending on how you interpret the responses in a recent interview given by Orange France's Stephane Richard there will be a 3G Apple iSlate with an integrated webcam. If there is a 3G version we'd expect a Wi-Fi-only version, too, in much the same way that the iPod is an iPhone without the phone bit.

Then again, Orange says Richard's remarks were taken out of context and mistranslated, and Steve Jobs has had him shot.

Maybe it's just the webcam bit that Richard got wrong, though. The Guardian reports that Apple has been talking to UK mobile operators to find a network partner for its tablet.

5. The Apple iSlate will have a virtual keyboard and maybe 3D

So what user interface will the Apple iSlate have? MacRumors' discovery of an old Fingerworks press release - yes, the same Apple-owned Fingerworks whose site Apple mysteriously shuttered mere moments ago - describes a virtual keyboard "that serves as mouse, standard keyboard, and powerful multi-finger gesture interpreter".

This suggests that the user interface will be a cross between an iPhone and a Macbook's trackpad. The New York Times quotes a former Apple designer who claims the firm has created a multi-touch version of iWork.

Apple has also patented a 3D user interface that may or may not end up in the tablet. Whether it's 3D or 2D, the New York Times says "you will be very surprised how you interact with the new tablet."

6. The Apple iSlate will be a gaming machine

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.