Apple: iPDA Handheld

By Robert Zucker

Speculation about a 2008 Apple PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) follows the release of the iPhone, a semi-OSX Mac, semi-phone, semi-PDA. It's been nearly 10 years since the phase out of the Newton.

The July 207 release of the iPhone may be the precursor to the release of a sub-compact PC or PDA like Newton device.

Apple has applied for a patent that could lead to touch-sensitive Macs or handhelds which react to the level of force, rather than just contact, according to Apple Insider. The "Force Imaging Input and Device System" is similar to today's touchscreen technology, but adds a pressure sensitve input to control additional movements. It is possible Apple will use this technology in upcoming upgrades to the iPhone or other devices.

Steve Jobs off-handedly remarked about the resurgance of a Newton-like device, according to When asked by an audience member to elaborate, Jobs said simply, "an Apple PDA." This was at the 2004 MacWorld.

According to ApplieInsider, "Externally, the mutil-touch PDA has been described by sources as an ultra-thin "slate" akin to the iPhone, about 1.5 times the size and sporting an approximate 720x480 high-resolution display that comprises almost the entire surface of the unit. The device is further believed to leverage multi-touch concepts which have yet to gain widespread adoption in Apple's existing multi-touch products -- the iPhone and iPod touch -- like drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste."

The release of the iPhone and overhaul of the OS delayed the progress of the new handheld PDA. Now that those events are out of the way, there is anticipation that Jobs will announce a new portable device that could be a cross between a sub-compact PC and an iPhone (probably without the phone).

Sources believe it could make an inaugural appearance during Jobs' Macworld keynote in January alongside some new Mac offerings. Still, manufacturing ramp and availability would seem unlikely until closer to mid-year, those same sources say, according to the Appleinsider report.

The ideal model will not only have a larger screen size than the iPhone, but also be capable of eventually receiving and sending calls, text messages, email and wifi. An even more ideal portable handheld Mac would sport a port for a broadband card, SD slot, Blutooth and USB/Firewire connections.

wikipedia: Apple Newton

October 9, 2007

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