RumorMill™: Details of Upcoming Apple Handheld

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A few months ago, a major publication published a hint that Apple is planning to release a handheld in 2004. Now, what are supposed to be some additional details of this device have surfaced.

In December of last year, a writer for eWeek said that he had “heard of an Apple prototype making the rounds in Silicon Valley.” He gave no other details, though.

This week, John Manzione from Mac NET v2 published what he says is a description of Apple’s upcoming handheld.

According to this report, the device will run an operating system that is described as being “OS X-like” and is quite possibly based on Linux. It will have an unknown amount of RAM, but it will also have the same type of miniature hard drive that is used in Apple’s iPod line of MP3 players.

Apparently it will use a clamshell design, with the screen on one side and keyboard on the other. Like many recent clamshell models, the screen can be rotated around and closed over the keyboard, allowing the device to be used as a tablet. Its Touchscreen will have a HVGA resolution, and it will use Apple’s Inkwell for handwriting recognition.

It will support both QuickTime and MPEG4. With an internal hard drive giving it far more Storage capacity that typical handhelds, Apple could be planning to position the device as a portable video player that also functions as a PDA.

Supposedly, Apple’s handheld will have FireWire, USB, and Bluetooth. Of course it will be able to synchronize with iCal, Mail, Address Book etx. on an OS X Mac, but Mr. Manzione reports that iSync with Windows will be available, too.

Mac NET v2 reports that this handheld will be available in July, though the price is not yet known.

Some History

Apple’s Newton line was some of the first handhelds, and the company’s CEO John Sculley even coined the term “PDA”. But the computer maker withdrew from the handheld market in 1998. However, at least once a year a rumor circulates that Apple is going to release a new line of handhelds to replace the Newton. Obviously, none of these have ever turned out to be true.

Rumors persist, despite the fact that Apple has said several times it has no plans to re-enter the handheld market. In June of last year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told an audience at a trade show that his company will concentrate on making the Macintosh OS be able to synchronize with portable devices through its iSync software, rather than making a device of its own.

Thanks to Timothy Rapson for the tip.

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