Apple iPad 2 Rumors Include NFC, Carbon Fiber Body, 7-Inch Display

New reports about a planned Apple iPad 2 include that the tablet may include NFC technology, shed its aluminum shell for carbon fiber and come in a 7-inch version.

Apple may be planning a small event to introduce a second generation of the iPad, Apple Insider reported Feb. 5, citing the Japanese site, which, it wrote, "sometimes generates accurate leads" regarding planned Apple products.

The Apple event, said the report, is planned for March, with the device likely to ship later.

The news follows similarly unverified Apple news reported Feb. 4 by iLounge about Apple's plans for its newest iPad. The site's source, cautioning that the information is "very preliminary," offered three details. The first is that Apple is developing accessories that could enable new iPads and iPhones to communicate using NFC (near-field communications) technology.

iLounge reported:

"In the most basic implementation, an accessory could announce its presence and potential functions to an iPad or iPhone without the need for a Bluetooth or similar connection; our source suggests that an otherwise simple case could include a radio chip so that an inserted iPhone or iPad could go into power-saving hibernation mode automatically. More complex accessories will go far beyond that."

Google has already gone public with its interest in NFC, and at the Web. 2.0 Summit in November 2010, outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt showed off how the technology could work, interacting with a point-of-sale terminal in a store to, with a tap, make a purchase in a manner that's reportedly more secure than a credit card swipe.

In January, Google began looking for an NFC/RFID expert to join its team, and Business Week Bloomberg reported that Google is indeed building a mobile payment and ad service that will enable Android users to make purchases via their smartphones.

The second new rumored detail is that Apple will replace the iPad's aluminum body with a material more akin to lightweight carbon fiber. This rumor may have some legs, as in November 2010 Apple filed for a "reinforced device housing" patent for using a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, or CFRF material, and, according to iLounge, iPads testing this new shell have "been spotted."

Lastly -and seemingly the most unlikely, as it would have Apple CEO Steve Jobs eating flocks of crow -the site reports that there may be a 7-inch version of the iPad in the works. "Our source notes that a key iPad, iPhone, and iPod component provider has been asked by Apple to develop a part for use in a 7-inch iPad," writes iLounge.

During an Apple quarterly earnings call in September, Jobs uncharacteristically participated and delivered a monologue on why the iPad, with its 9.7-inch display, is superior to the 7-inch displays on a number of competitors' planned devices. Saying that the 7-inchers will likely "offer less, for more," he called the upcoming crop "DOA -dead on arrival," adding, "Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small, and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the seven-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product."

Whether these leaked details make it onto the new iPad, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White, in a Feb. 7 research note, seconded that an Apple iPad announcement is due. "Apple will soon need to announced the iPad 2 before a potential April launch," wrote White, noting that alerting consumers to the device's upcoming availability might help to hold back sales of the potentially very popular Motorola Xoom tablet, which will run Android 3.0, known as "Honeycomb," and launch in February.

"We believe," added White, "Apple will do well to make an announcement in the coming weeks."