Valentine’s Day: Love me, love my iPad with iOS 4.3

The number of dental APPS in the APP store remains small, but is growing…..expect to see it continue exponentially as the impact chairside for treatment explanation in conjunction with monitors in treatment rooms showing diagnostic material explodes…….

Y U should be using iPads in your dental practice

Several rumors surfaced recently that detail more possible changes in the expected iPad hardware refresh, including possible NFC-equipped accessories that can interface wirelessly with NFC-equipped iPads as well as a new “carbon fiber-like” casing material. Also, one analyst believes Apple will be pushing 3G-equipped iPads harder in the coming year, and, iOS 4.3 is expected to be available to end users on February 14.

iLounge cites a “previously accurate source” that claims Apple is developing accessories that can interface with next-generation iPads using rumored near field communication hardware 

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

built in to the device. Using NFC, accessories could connect to and communicate with an iPad (or future iPhone) without the need for Bluetooth pairing or other set up.

The source gave an example of how such an accessory might work: “An otherwise simple case could include a radio chip so that an inserted iPhone or iPad could go into power-saving hibernation mode automatically,” presumably when the cover is closed.

The same source also suggested that Apple might drop aluminum for a case material “similar to carbon fiber.” This material would result in a significant weight savings, especially if paired with a thinner, lighter display. In fact, the new material could be Liquidmetal, as Apple has been exploring using the material in its devices. Liquidmetal alloys can offer the same strength properties as machined billet aluminum at a lighter weight.

Finally, Apple is reportedly still exploring the possibility of a 7″ iPad, though you can count us skeptical toward that rumor. We’ve mentioned our own reasons why Apple probably won’t release such a product anytime soon–it would require another refactoring of the user interface for app developers. Also, Apple has called 7″ devices “dead in the water.” So, even if Apple is working on one in its R&D labs, don’t count on seeing one in the wild just yet.

In other news, AppleInsider is reporting that an Asian supply analyst believes Apple is producing a higher percentage of next-generation iPads with built-in 3G capabilities. Only 38 percent will supposedly be WiFi-only, while 46 percent are said to be GSM/UMTS compatible and 16 percent would be CDMA/EV-DO compatible (the latter likely bound for Verizon and perhaps China Mobile).

We believe this mix seems unreasonably weighted toward 3G models, given that Apple said the average selling price of iPads last quarter was $600. Since the least expensive 3G iPad costs $629, this suggests that far more WiFi-only devices have been sold to date. Furthermore, it seems that using a mobile hotspot or smartphone equipped with a mobile hotspot feature would be a more flexible solution than paying $129 extra (plus data costs) for a 3G-equipped iPad. On the other hand, if Apple cuts the price premium for 3G-equipped iPads, the suggested mix might make more sense.

On the iOS update front, MacStories cited a source that
claimed iOS 4.3 will be released on Friday, February 14 at the usual 10am PST. We think that date seems likely, as the subscription payment APIs that enable in-app purchasing for News Corp‘s The Daily are included in the 4.3 update. We’ve heard from a few developers that Apple has already begun approving apps that use iOS 4.3 APIs, as well.

The date would also coincide with new mobile hotspot features announced by AT&T, which go into effect February 13. If a February 14 release for iOS 4.3 is indeed accurate, it would certainly be a nice Valentine’s Day treat from Apple for iOS device users.

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