Jan 27th: The Apple Tablet, Where Did The Rumors Start? Will We See iPhone OS 4.0? [Updated]

With the world aflutter about Apple’s upcoming media event slated for January 27th, 2010, it’s unsurprising to think that the most ancient Apple rumor of them all has once again shot into the spotlight. But, Where did all this start? .. And with Apple having not confirmed anything officially, are we getting ahead of ourselves?

Update: Sunday, 17th January 2010

Further evidence of the Apple tablet? The video below was posted to YouTube on January 13th. The video depicts a tablet-esque looking device which is running some sort of hybrid OS .. somewhere in-between iPhone OS and Mac OS X.

Original Article

After Apple dropped out of Macworld last year, many people wondered how Apple would fill the gap of their once annual consumer-focused event. Turns out, we have our answer. Although not officially confirmed by Apple yet, (I’m expecting we should hear something official soon), on Dec 30th, 2009 an ‘unnamed source’ allegedly told Fox News that the company would be holding an event which would “catch the world’s attention” on Jan 26th. Turns out, ‘unnamed sources’ then told Digital Daily that the firm would actually be holding the event on Jan 27th .. and the internet being the internet, is now set in stone.

Of course, now the rumor mill is well and truly turning, with speculation and patent findings running rampant everywhere. The big one is of course – The tablet. The tablet is a mystical device which has been rumored to be coming for what seems like forever. But where did it all start?

On May 24, 2001 Kevin Fox of Google planted the idea in the world’s head that Apple had been working on getting a computer to fit in a tablet form. Then, in Nov 2002, Matthew Rothenberg of eWeek said “It’s my strong belief, let’s call it a hunch, that prototype Mac tablets are already making the rounds among select developers”. Nov 2003, Robert Cringely of PBS writes: “Quanta, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple notebooks, has been apparently switching its production to the new tablets.” In June of 2004 Steve Jobs told Walter Mossberg: “There are no plans to make a tablet… people want keyboards. We look at the tablet and we think it is going to fail.”

Onto August 13, 2004 now, and Tony Smith of The Register finds a European design trademark filing by Apple for an “Electronic Device.” On August 24, 2005 Apple posted a job position for a Handwriting Recognition Engineer. The perfect candidate was to be a “passionate sole who could provide handwriting solutions to end customers and who strongly believes that using a stylus and a tablet is the way to interact with computers.” On February 2, 2006, Apple was granted a worldwide patent of a ‘tablet’ computer. May 14, 2007 Eddie Hargreave of The Apple Blog listed the Apple Tablet in his “Ten Biggest Apple Rumors That Never Came True.”

On 6th Nov 2006, CNET’s Rory Reid allegedly had dinner with Asus, at which they said keep it hush but: “Asus is helping Apple build a Tablet PC.” On January 9, 2008 WIRED as a whole believed Apple had had a team of engineers working on touchscreen technology for a would-be tablet device, for some time. March 3, 2008 and John Markoff of the New York Times asks Jobs about the possibility of a Tablet Mac. Jobs answers: “I can’t talk about unannounced products”. Finally, on July 27, 2009 the Finacial Times reported that the Tablet was as an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle, and expects it would be released in September or October, priced around $600-$1000.

The latest clue of the device existing is, of course, one that happened only a few days ago. You may remember tech blog Valleywag starting a scavenger hunt for legit spy shots of the Apple Tablet, offering up to a whopping $100,000 for legit evidence of it’s existence. Well, only day or so after they put up the hunt, as Gizmodo reports, Apple shot them down with an immediate Cease and Desist. Gizmodo‘s Jesus Diaz writes: “Do companies send out C&Ds for non existent devices? Not in our experience.”

It’s pretty clear from the evidence above that the Apple Tablet is on it’s way. Whether we’ll see it at the rumored Jan 27th event ..well, I’m still a little skeptical. But, then the question falls to if it does debut, what will it run? Potential software has been another focus point of the Apple rumor mill recently. We’ve had everything from “It’ll run iPhone OS” to “It’ll run a completely different division of Mac OSX dubbed ‘Mac OSX Clouded‘ .. to it actually running the rumored iPhone OS 4.0. As for what I believe, I think we’ll see the tablet run a hybrid operating system .. one which is designed for touch (iPhone OS), but takes both design aspects and operations from it’s big brother, Mac OSX.

As for the question: Will We See iPhone OS 4.0? Yes. But, it won’t be running on the tablet. As noted by many the tablet is too big for iPhone OS to work. The reason iPhone OS currently works so well now, is due to the iPhone’s handheld form factor and small but usable screen resolution. No, Apple won’t risk making a product unusable by the means of software it uses. We will see iPhone OS 4.0, but in my opinion it will be just as we saw iPhone OS 3.0 introduced, on the iPhone – where it belongs.

As for iPhone OS 4.0 and its feature-set, a flurry of features have been bantered around already and you’re probably not here to read the same list over, the most of which seems to be multi-tasking. I’d like to see that, alongside a native push notification management system and some form of spaces-esque diddy? .. Possibly.