Super iPad tops Apple rumour list

The next Apple event on Friday could see the introduction of an iPad Super with a screen measuring more than 30 centimetres diagonally, if the latest rumours are to be believed.

Take a little salt with that but, if true, it could increase the gloom over Microsoft’s Surfacetablet, cut into sales of notebooks and squash competition from convertible tablets like Lenovo’s Yoga.

With iPad battery life already significantly better than that of notebooks and a possible physical keyboard cover with its own battery – like the Logitech unit sold for standard iPads – the new device could attract many business users who still leave their iPad behind when they go to work.

But Apple won’t want to cannibalise sales of its highly popular slim MacBook Air.So perhaps there won’t be a 12-inch super iPad, but an even slimmer MacBook Air instead. That’s also rumoured to be among the goodies to be shown off on Friday morning, Australian time.

The latest iPhones and iPads already have storage up to 128GB and this could be increased inside the greater volume of a super iPad. Yet, for professionals, a full-scale MacBook, able to run Windows in a virtual machine such as Parallels, as well as – with the new Mac Yosemite operating system – integrate with iPads, iPhones and iMacs on the desk is likely to remain a better choice.

The super iPad is the latest believe-it-or-not rumour coming out of the US and from the shadows around the back doors of Apple’s Asian manufacturers, but it’s far from all the predictions of what will be revealed.

Firmer rumours say that among what looks to be a major release of upgraded and new hardware, the company will show off a revised, faster, thinner iPad Air 2 equipped with the Apple-designed A8 processor that powers the iPhone 6 handsets.

That the latest, greatly enhanced, Macintosh operating system, MacOS X 10.10 Yosemite, could be released to the public this week is now almost certain.  It was scheduled for our spring when announced in June and the public beta, which recently had a refresh, is very stable. Integration of functions between iOS8 and Yosemite is already impressive.

The new iPad line is expected to get Touch ID, first seen on the iPhone 5s and now across the iPhone 6 line-up. It’s a handy feature built into the laser-cut sapphire iPad home button but more importantly is part of the security built into the Apple Pay touch-and-go payments system due to be launched in the US this month and possibly in Australia next year.

Many commentators expect the iPad Air 2 to get a high-definition Retina screen, matching the iPhone 6 Plus, a rumour supported by developments seen in iOS8.1,currently in beta. The elegant curved seam between screen and case seen on the iPad 6, and a slightly thinner body, along with the faster A8 microprocessor and the latest, faster, Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, are also likely to be included.

Invitations to the Cupertino event were headed “It’s been way too long”, leading to strong rumours that new iMacs, maybe new Mac minis, and enhanced MacBook models, particularly the Air, will be launched.

The MacBook Air, the most popular Apple notebook, is expected to appear with a 12-inch Retina Display screen. Greater slimness has required either redesign of the MagSafecharger connector or a new way of charging, such as induction. Apparently the new thinness has also required use of slimmer type-C USB connectors.

So, as Apple chief executive Tim Cook hinted, the company has lots of goodies ready to lure customers, and will do it in spades, according to Carl Icahn, one of the world’s canniest billionaire investors.

The cruncher, says Icahn, company raider and financial activist, is that major differences between competing smartphones are gone with Apple’s introduction of the big-screen iPhone 6 Plus.

In an open letter posted last week, Icahn said Apple was on a roll while Samsung was forecasting a steep drop in profits. Apple had removed the last good reason to stick with handsets running Android: larger screen size.

Apple is the only company making handsets and, crucially, the software that runs on them as well. It curates third-party applications, provides security and has created an environment in which mobile devices and desktop and notebook computers are closely integrated.

As Wired magazine pointed out “yes, users have more freedom to customise Android, and handset makers have more freedom to fork it. But the tight integration of Apple’s software and hardware make the iPhone the only mobile platform on which innovation is universally consistent … Google can’t announce a big new advance and guarantee every Android user on every phone will have it. Apple can.”

With the arrival of iOS8 and Yosemite, phone calls, for example, will be able to be answered on any device, including a desktop Mac. Documents will be able to be started on one device and finished on another. Even heart rate measured on the Apple Watch is to be automatically transferred to your iPhone, iPad and iMac.

Of course, Icahn has motive behind his Apple-wins-the-race view: he wants the company to spend chunks of its multibillion dollar cash reserves in buying back shares, thus raising their price. Icahn owns 53 million Apple shares and doesn’t plan to sell them. But his reasoning looks sound.