Signs Point to an Apple iPad, New iPhone OS

By now it’s safe to say that the Apple tablet mania is in full swing. There have been various theories that have been floated as to how it would look, how it would work, what’s inside it and what functionality it would likely include.

Many have been wondering if the new device will also bring a new OS. What would happen to the thousands of apps developed for the iPhone? All this hand-wringing even before we know if the device is for real, and is a tablet. Of course, no one know if the device is for real. All we have is an invitation from Apple for a product launch event on Jan. 27 in San Francisco.

Today, Flurry, a San Francisco-based market research firm, is offering anecdotal evidence that gives credence to the existence of a new kind of device. More importantly, the data collected by the company shows that Apple is not going to jettison the iPhone OS and instead will leverage it to its advantage. The company claimed:

Through applications in which Flurry Analytics is embedded, Flurry has pinpointed testing activities to a set of Tablet devices on Apple’s campus (we have verified both by IP address that map to Apple servers and GPS coordinates). We have identified approximately 50 devices do not leave Apple’s campus and are running a yet to be released OS. Many of these applications (about 200 that we can see) match the kinds of apps that have been presumed to run on the Tablet, per what has been covered in the press to date.

Flurry says that while the first signs of testing of this device emerged in October 2009, the process has accelerated over the past few weeks.

Flurry has observed around 200 apps being tested, led primarily by Game Apps. While news and information apps are high on the apps-being-tested list, it’s clear that this new device isn’t going to be the savior the media industry expects it to be.

Historically, tablet devices have been considered substitutes for anything where workers use clipboards, note pads or day runners. In more industrial settings, they could be used for inventory management, taking purchase orders or data entry. However, there was a surprising dearth of applications that support these use cases. Instead, the largest category was games. With a larger screen, more memory, multi-touch and multi-tasking expected, games will play better than ever on Apple handheld devices.

The mix of applications observed comprises mainly of media and entertainment consumption as opposed to enterprise, productivity and computing. Specifically, popular tested apps include news, games, entertainment and lifestyle. In particular, there was a strong trend toward news, books and other kinds of daily media consumption, including streaming music and radio.

What’s most interesting about Flurry’s report is the fact that Apple might be using a new variant of the iPhone OS.

A noteworthy observation is that the Apple hardware we detected was running on OS 3.2, which has not yet been released. Currently the iPhone and iPod Touch are running on OS 3.1.2. Historically, Apple releases OS upgrades just before releasing new hardware. With significant expected changes (e.g., multi-touch, multi-tasking) for the tablet device operating system, there was concern among application developers that the tablet would not support existing iPhone applications.

Here is an alternative theory: Apple could be introducing a new, more powerful iPhone that does multitasking and has a bigger screen with higher resolution. Not to mention the impact it would have on the current generation of iPhones out in the market.

Related Posts:

* Suddenly, Verizon Loves Wi-Fi — What’s That Apple Tablet Got to Do With It?
* 10 Features That Would Make iPad a Hit.

Photo of iPad courtesy of Gizmodo.