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Apple tablet team in a "cone of silence"

updated 02:25 pm EST, Thu December 31, 2009

Apple's tablet group in iPhone-like secrecy

Apple has maintained a level of secrecy surrounding its tablet project not seen since the iPhone about three years ago, John Gruber says. Referencing sources at Apple, the historically accurate technology writer reiterates that a Get Smart-like "cone of silence" exists surrounding those developing the tablet and virtually no information comes from those directly involved. Many of those involved are the same who developed apps like Calendar, Mail and Safari for the iPhone and underwent a similar routine in late 2006.

He also supports the widely spread rumor that CEO Steve Jobs has a personal interest in the project and has given it "undivided attention" for at least the half-year since returning to work. In many cases, employees simply accept the development as a universal truth at the company even if they have no direct knowledge.

"I don't know anyone who works at Apple who doubts these things; nor do I know anyone at Apple who knows a whit more," Gruber writes. "I don't know anyone who's seen the hardware or the software, nor even anyone who knows someone else who has seen the hardware or software."

He does state that sources understand Mac OS X 10.7 is on track for a developer release at WWDC in June. It's implied but not stated that Apple may follow a similar path as it did for Snow Leopard, where the company provides a very early release to developers one year and a near-final release the next.

Gruber goes on to speculate about the tablet's likely role and suggests it may be a full-fledged notebook replacement given its positioning between the iPod touch and the MacBook line. He adds that while the interface may be closer to that of the iPhone OS, it's more probable that the OS will be custom-tailored to a tablet-sized device and may not share some of the iPhone's limitations. As such, it would be treated more as a full computer and less as an oversized version of Apple's existing handhelds.

While this may be the case, at least one alleged leak has hinted that Apple is asking some developers to rework iPhone apps for a demonstration of the technology at the anticipated late January introduction.

by MacNN Staff



  1. MacAssemble

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah but...

    Yeah but the "cone of silence" was a device "not ready for use" and did not work well.. that was a funny movie :)

  1. siromega

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "He adds that while the interface may be closer to that of the iPhone OS, it's more probable that the OS will be custom-tailored to a tablet-sized device and may not share some of the iPhone's limitations. As such, it would be treated more as a full computer and less as an oversized version of Apple's existing handhelds."

    I think that means multitasking =^)

    And the entire article is spot on really, its a new type of UI, just like the iPhone was a new type of UI. Apple will go to lengths to make sure that the underlying code is reused as much as possible between the systems, but will develop a new but familiar interface.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How much mangling?

    Might it be possible to simply and clarify the whole OS thing as follows: The "iPhone OS" is a device specific variation of OSX and so other "device specific" variations will be variations of OSX rather than the iPhone OS. It is redundant to talk of a variation of a variation. Thanks!

  1. timbck2

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone or iPod Touch?

    I keep seeing articles referring to the tablet as an "iPhone on steroids", etc. but is it really likely to include phone functionality? I think it's more likely to be an "iPod Touch on steroids" (gah, I hate myself for using that phrase! ;-) Unless VOIP is on the menu for it.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I would think it would be more like

    an iPod Touch on steroids. I wonder what will be enhanced about it. Maybe it will be able to run some full OSX apps or maybe it will be able to handle files differently using external removable memory using an SDHC slot. It does make sense if Apple tailors the OS specifically to the tablet to fit it's processing range. Unlike many companies that try to stick Windows 7 on some weak processing platform, Apple will be able to fine-tune the tablet.

    Would it be very expensive to give the tablet 3G capability similar to the Kindle, so people would be able to download on the go even if they didn't have a WiFi connection? It's very exciting to try and guess what Apple intends to do, but it really just makes sense to wait for the real deal.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All of yins...

    It's funny how every speculative article posted here is followed with a flurry of comments bashing the article's author over speculation.

    Just read the comments here and tell me who speculates more.

    "I would think it would be..."
    "...maybe it will be able to..."
    "It does make sense if Apple..."
    "I think it's more likely to be..." infinitum. Look up old "iTablet" articles and see fer yerselfs. "I hate it when authors speculate! Just wait for the damn thing to come out! And when it does come out, it better have 802.11n... it would also be feasible to have some kind of removable storage, like an SD slot... and if there's no stylus, I'm not buying one!"

    Pick a side. Either speculate or don't.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It might be a 'cone of silence'. Or it could be that there really is no apple tablet and all the rumors are just that, rumors.

    Either that or perhaps, more likely, the team that works on the Apple Tablet have their memories replaced before they leave the building, and restored when they return. Thus, they never 'know' about the thing while they're not working on it.

    I think there was some Christian Slater TV show last year based on this premise (yet another idea stolen from Apple).

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