Editor's desk: iPad 3 release date, iOS 5.1 GM seed, new look, new columns

What a week. iPad 3 was certainly the big story, with rumors following their usual, crazy, pre-relase pattern. iOS 5.1 is along for the ride. On the hardware side, we heard the traditional 30-pin dock connector may be going micro, and as you may have noticed, we've been making some changes around the site. Here's the deal on release dates, software drops, and assorted mischief...

iPad 3 release date

Verizon and AT&T might be getting a 4G LTE iPad 3, but what about  the rest of the world?

With the iPad 3 event expected for March 7, that raises the question of when Apple's next tablet will actually ship. A new but interesting source recently told us March 30 was the date with an Apple Retail meeting to take place right before hand, on March 28. That's 23 days between announcement and release. And... that seems like a long time.

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Apple announced the first iPad on January 27, 2010, opened pre-orders in the U.S. on March 12, and released the device on Friday, April 30. But that was a brand new product category, and while not as big as the January 9, 2007 to June 29 window of the original iPhone, it gave developers time to get a ton of apps in place before launch. iPad 2 was announced on March 2, 2011, had no pre-orders, and was released on March 11. That's 9 days.

If Apple wants to have pre-orders for the iPad 3, or give developers a head start on getting their apps Retina display ready, would they need more time?

The iPhone 4S had pre-orders. It was announced on October 4, 2011, pre-orders started on October 7, and it was released on October 14. 10 days.

The iPhone 4 made the same jump to Retina the iPad 3 is expected to make. It was announced on June 7, 2010 and was released on June 24. 17 days.

Would Apple really want or need 23 days from iPad 3 announcement to launch? Unless every minute of extra manufacturing time is important to get stock to the level Apple requires -- and given the spec rumors for the device, especially that 2048x1536 pixel display, it might be -- it seems like too long a window.

Both iPad and iPad 2 were released on Fridays, however, so March 30 remains a possibility. Announcement on March 7, perhaps pre-orders on March 9, and release on March 16 would fit last year's schedule. Release on March 23 would split the difference.

Realistically, it's too close to call for me. (Which is why I snuck the March 30 date in here instead of it's own big, noisy post...) Just keep your Fridays open next month.

iOS 5 release date

iOS 5.1 rumored to be coming on or around March 9

Apple's not predictable but they do like their patterns. While iOS 5.1 feels like it's been in beta forever (November 28, 2010 forever), it has yet to go GM (Gold Master), which means developers have yet to get their hands on a release candidate for testing. Given past timelines, it's not hard to see Apple announcing the iOS 5.1 GM seed during the March 7 event, and releasing it a couple days before the iPad 3. That could mean March 14, 21, or 28.

Depending on what, if any, surprising new features Apple shows off in iOS 5.1 for the iPad 3 -- maybe Siri, maybe something else? -- developers would likely appreciate as much time as possible to get their apps ready to be in the App Store on day one.

So, better keep your Wednesdays open as well.

That micro-dock rumor

Apple could be getting ready to ditch the traditional dock connector

Wow but that name caught on fast. In case you missed it, earlier this week we heard Apple was finally getting ready to ditch the traditional dock connector and go with something smaller, to save space in the iPhone 5 for bigger batteries and faster radios.

Many of you told us you'd prefer Apple ditch it completely and go with Palm TouchStone-style inductive charging. Palm still had micro USB, however, for standard charging and while Apple is fearless when it comes to embracing the future, they're also pragmatic about mainstream needs and inductive charging might not be mainstream enough just yet.

iMore's new look and new focus

Path for iPhone

A while back I promised everyone that iMore would be steadily rolling out new features to make for a better, more informative, more useful, more enjoyable experience. While the big stuff is still coming, we did update the home page recently to let some the awesome photography the team's been taking really shine. We're talking edge-to-edge, widescreen graphics, and I for one think they look terrific.

We also updated the layout to better differentiate our feature articles. The problem is this -- there's just too much iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad stuff out there. Too much news and too many rumors, and way too many apps and accessories. We want to cut through all that for you and offer only the best of the best of the best of everything. We want to bring you the stories that are most important to you, the rumors that we can best put in context, and we want to plow through the massive amounts of apps and accessories and give you the ones that really stand out, that are absolutely best in class, or are simply too cool to pass up.

Check out our recent review of the phenomenal Screens 2.0 for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, our video editor shootout between Avid and iMovie, and our look at the cute, inexpensive Mujjo fisheye lens.

This approach is still a work in progress and it'll take some time for us to nail it, but we're working incredibly hard to get it right. If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it. Drop me a line at rene@imore.com or hit me up on Twitter @reneritchie.

Oh, and along these lines -- we have a huge surprise coming in the next few weeks that'll make some of you incredibly happy, so stay tuned!

New columns and features

Make your iPhone photography more striking with the “rule of thirds”

One of the biggest new additions to iMore, and something I'm especially proud of, are our new expert columns, and our new features. iPhones and iPads have gone from being geeky gadgets to being important parts of our lives and lifestyles. They're with us almost everywhere and they have apps and accessories that can help us with almost everything. That's where the columns and features come in.

  • Health and Fitness. We've spent the whole month of February featuring health and fitness apps and accessories and tied it into our new Health and Fitness Forum so we could all work together to use our technology to help us stay in shape. eHealth/iHealth and eFitness/iFitness looks to be the next big wave and we're not stopping when the month's over. We're going to stay on top of it. We hope you stay with us.
  • Photography. If the best camera is the iPhone you have with you, we want to help you take the best possible photos with it. Enter Leanna's new, weekly iPhoneography column (that's the trendy way to say iPhone photography) where she's already tackled the rule of thirds, portraits, and macros, and has a lot more on the way. She's also running each one as a project in our Photography Forum where beginners can get help and pros can share their work and help keep us inspired.
  • Do-it-yourself. Not everyone replaces their iPhone or iPad every year, some people have hand-me-downs, some buy second hand, and we wall want to help make sure everyone's device runs as well as possible, for as long as possible. To that end, every week Ally is showing us how to save money by fixing and repairing common problems, from broken screens to failing Home buttons. She's also showing how to pick the best replacement parts -- including colored parts and other, fancier modifications, and providing a little consumer protection advice along the way. And if you have trouble, our DIY and Mod Forum is right there to help.
  • Stock talk. With Apple share prices hitting new highs and Apple itself becoming one of the most valuable companies on the planet, we figured we needed to do more to provide better analysis and opinion on matters financial. Chris U. was happy to oblige with his new Stock talk column. He's already addressed everything from Tim Cook's Goldman Sachs performance to the recent insider trading scandals and he'll be following up on quarterly results and major news as it happens.
  • Design and development. Interested in how long it will take to update iPad apps for a Retina display? We certainly were, and Marc Edwards from Bjango was there to help us out. Curious what hidden strings in iOS may mean for ZFS support in the future? Jack Perry, the developer of Frequencies for iPhone dove in to find out. We'll be hearing more from Marc and Jack, and other designers and developers, both on our Iterate podcast and in our Developers Forum and new Designers Forum as well.

Finally, yours truly made a concerted effort to keep up with the industry opinion and analysis this week as well.

I'd go into it more, but frankly if you made it this far down you deserve a break now. If the topics interest you, hit the links and be sure to share your thoughts.


That's it! Now that we've got the first of these weekly reviews out of the way, I'll make a concerted effort to keep future editions shorter and sweeter. We value your time and your attention, and we appreciate your readership.

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