Apple’s October 22 iPad event will bring more than just iPads

Tablet publishers should focus on any mention of a retina display iPad mini, and news about iBooks for the Mac and any new release of iBooks Author

So TNM got the date of the iPad event right, October 22. It wasn’t hard, last year’s event was on October 23. But now the question is whether the event will be a bit more interesting than its iPhone event. I suspect it will be.

As usual there are plenty of rumors about what to expect. Most rumors agree that a new iPad will be launched that will have a slightly smaller form factor. The display will remain pretty much the same, but the casing will be smaller and possibly thinner. Of course, the internal specs will be upgraded.

My own “new” iPad is certainly due for an upgrade, but what I really need is an iPad mini. The reason is that anyone publishing eBooks, magazines, newspapers or even just a website, needs to be able to view their work on a smaller device – something between a phone and a large tablet. This also goes both ways – I marvel at how many new websites I see launched that are touted as perfect for tablets that actually look pretty silly on my desktop monitor. I wonder if they were designed by really near sighted designers.


The iPad mini is due for an upgrade to a retina display

The open question is whether the new iPad mini will feature a retina display. Most think it will, though there are dissenters. I am in the retina camp simply because I can’t imagine Tim Cook walking on stage knowing that he is about to introduce a new product far behind the competition. Apple is not into specs, one reason they never added a USB port or other inputs into their tablets. But displays are a special case.

The current iPad mini sports a display that is 1024-by-768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch. It is also 7.9″ diagonally, making it slightly larger than other small tablets.

The new Kindle Fire HDX is a 7″ display, but it is also 1920-by-1200 resolution at 323 pixels per inch. Even the Kindle Fire HD is 1280-by-800 resolution at 216 pixels per inch.

Can you imagine Apple touting a new iPad mini with the same display specs? Only if Tim Cook suddenly gets a cold and calls on former Apple exec Scott Forstall to come and give the keynote.


The iPad mini’s new competition, the 7″ Kindle Fire HDX

The smartest rumor I’ve heard is that Apple will announce two iPad mini models: a new retina version with significantly upgraded specs, and a new version of the older model with a non-retina display. We’ll see.

I can’t stress the importance for today’s publishing offices to have multiple devices floating about. Too often the decision to publish to mobile and tablets is outsourced – but when production is in-house often it is pushed off to a small group of designers. This doesn’t bother me all that much. But if I ran a publishing company of a significant size I would occasionally ask my publishers and editors “so, how does it look on a small tablet, a phone, a large tablet?” I’d expect to get an intelligent answer.

Although the focus will be on iPads, the October 22 will also likely bring a launch date for the latest Mac OS, OS X Mavericks. The significance of this for publishers is that the new Mac OS brings iBooks to the Mac – that is one more device covered when the publisher submits an eBook to the iBooks Store.

iBooksAuthor-icon-smIn order to do this, books will have to be able to shift from touch to click, which means a change to the iBooks reading app. But it also should mean a new version of iBooks Author. Last year the second generation of the software was released on October 24, so there is no reason not to expect iBooks Author 3.0 to debut at the same event, even if it isn’t given any stage time.

The biggest change publishers want to the software would be for it to support the iPhone, but other than users clamoring for this online I have seen nothing to suggest this is coming. But those I now that use the software would consider the added ability to publish to the iPhone via iBooks Author to be the biggest news they’ve heard all year.

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