New iPad details: RFID/NFC add-ons, carbon body, 7” iPad still in works | iLounge Backstage

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New iPad details: RFID/NFC add-ons, carbon body, 7” iPad still in works

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Friday, February 4, 2011
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A previously accurate source has provided iLounge with some interesting new details on Apple’s ongoing iPad development efforts, cautioning that some of the information is very preliminary. Here’s what we’ve heard.

1. RFID/NFC Accessories: According to our source, Apple is actively developing new accessories that will communicate with the near-field radio chips reportedly built into new iPads and iPhones. In the most basic implementation, an accessory could announce its presence and potential functions to an iPad or iPhone without the need for a Bluetooth or similar connection; our source suggests that an otherwise simple case could include a radio chip so that an inserted iPhone or iPad could go into power-saving hibernation mode automatically. More complex accessories will go far beyond that.

2. A New Body Material: While our source urges caution on this point, it’s possible that the company will use a new material similar to carbon fiber rather than aluminum for upcoming iPads. Apple has already applied for a patent on this, and apparently second-generation iPad shells made from the new material have already been spotted. Apple has in the past worked simultaneously on more than one version of a device enclosure before making a late-stage switch to another, but it is apparently testing these new shells now in the hopes of reducing the weight of iPads.

3. The 7-inch iPad Lives: While Apple apparently decided to scuttle the 7” version of the iPad it was working on last year, our source notes that a key iPad, iPhone, and iPod component provider has been asked by Apple to develop a part for use in a seven-inch iPad. Our source believes that this part is for a new version of the device that is still in development, and doesn’t know whether it will go into production. The request suggests, however, that Apple is continuing to keep the idea of a smaller-screened iPad alive despite having pooh-poohed competing 7”-screened devices as “tweeners.”

Our source recommends that you take all of this with the requisite grains of salt. We wanted to share it because it was intriguing.

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