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Up next for Apple: the return of the Newton

post #1 of 314
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Apple Inc, which helped spawn the PDA market with its Newton MessagePad line in the early '90s, plans to give the concept another go with a modern day reincarnation of the old fan favorite based on the company's new mutli-touch technology, AppleInsider has learned.

For Apple, the ongoing project represents its second stab at reinventing the PDA since the Newton met its fate in the late 90's -- the first of which never saw the light of day and is only known to have existed based on a one-off comment from chief executive Steve Jobs over three years ago.

Speaking at the 2004 edition of the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, Jobs stated that he was proud not only of the products Apple had released in recent years, but also the products the company had decided not to ship.

When asked by an audience member to elaborate, Jobs said simply, "an Apple PDA."

It appears that Jobs and Co. never gave up hope, and instead returned to the drawing board. For the past 18 months, well-respected sources tell AppleInsider, a small team of Apple engineers have been at it again, this time tapping the company's revolutionary multi-touch technology as a foundation.

During that time, sources have observed the project slip in and out of limbo, as Apple struggled to meet its self-imposed June, 2007 launch date for the iPhone. In at least two instances, the company pulled software engineers off the project to assist in the completion of the iPhone software, only to return those same engineers to the their original task months later.

With the initial iPhone now out the door and two successive models well underway in Apple's labs, it's believed to be full steam ahead for the modern day Newton project. Like iPhone and the iPod touch, the new device runs an embedded version of Apple's Mac OS X Leopard operating system.

Externally, the mutil-touch PDA has been described by sources as an ultra-thin "slate" akin to the iPhone, about 1.5 times the size and sporting an approximate 720x480 high-resolution display that comprises almost the entire surface of the unit. The device is further believed to leverage multi-touch concepts which have yet to gain widespread adoption in Apple's existing multi-touch products -- the iPhone and iPod touch -- like drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste.

Artist rendition showing approximate size ratio to existing Apple handhelds | Artwork by audiopollution.

More broadly characterized as Apple's answer to the ultra-mobile PC, the next-gen device is believed to be tracking for a release sometime in the first half of 2008. Assuming the project remains clear of roadblocks, sources believe it could make an inaugural appearance during Jobs' Macworld keynote in January alongside some new Mac offerings. Still, manufacturing ramp and availability would seem unlikely until closer to mid-year, those same sources say.

As AppleInsider has hinted in recent months (1, 2), the next-gen PDA will signal the advent of a fifth core business segment (fourth if you discount Apple TV) for Apple, but at the same time represent just smidgen of what's to come from the company's new multi-touch platform, which has already proven to be a game-changer.

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post #2 of 314
I still have three of my Newtons! The iPhone simply represents where the Newton would have been had Apple kept-up its development, only it would have been better than this present release of the iPhone. If the iPhone had handwriting recognition I would be jumping for joy, and it would be an instant purchase on my part.

This is truly exciting news, at least for me. The 2100 Newton got it right, but Newton was already dead, and only those of us who loved it dearly hung-on until the end.

Cut my hair and shine my shoes
And keep on singin' the blues
If I can stay here in Apple's Newton garden
post #3 of 314
This is why the iPhone and iPod touch is limited and Apple doesn't want you to put your own 3rd party apps on it. They have a PDA they want to push, and if some developer is writing apps that will do everything that this PDA offers it will equal low PDA sells. Just my .02.
post #4 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

This is why the iPhone and iPod touch is limited and Apple doesn't want you to put your own 3rd party apps on it. They have a PDA they want to push, and if some developer is writing apps that will do everything that this PDA offers it will equal low PDA sells. Just my .02.

Pretty insightful comment

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post #5 of 314
i don't get this. the iphone already does this and more, what would a larger form factor give you other than something harder to transport?

Of course if they were going into the medical field it might find use, but its just too big, imho.

we'll have to wait and see.
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post #6 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

This is why the iPhone and iPod touch is limited and Apple doesn't want you to put your own 3rd party apps on it. They have a PDA they want to push, and if some developer is writing apps that will do everything that this PDA offers it will equal low PDA sells. Just my .02.

you might be right, but why would i want a phone .and. a PDA? that would make as much sense as an iPod, iPhone and PDA on my mega utility belt. (not going to happen).
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post #7 of 314
There would be no point to an entirely different device when you can just increase the features available on the iPhone and touch. My guess is that this would be released as another piece of the iPhone lineup rather than as the much discussed Newton replacement.
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post #8 of 314
gee, when I saw the Iphone, I said, yeah Jobs you told everyone Apple will not do PDA.

But if you ask Apple or Jobs if it is a PDA they will deny it, since they believe it to be something more than a PDA.

However, lets go back in time, to the Knowledge Navigator, I believe that we will see if the original Apple concept of the knowledge navigator, they talked about this for along time but all the technologies were not there to make it happen.

Things have converge enough today to make this happen.
post #9 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandau View Post

you might be right, but why would i want a phone .and. a PDA? that would make as much sense as an iPod, iPhone and PDA on my mega utility belt. (not going to happen).

Ture, but there are those of us, who don't want / need an iPod or iPhone, who will gladly purchase a iNewton:, iPDA, itrack, iplan or whatever they end up calling it

Skip

PS Not sure who said it, but "Give the folks, what they want" or was it "Build it, and they will come"
post #10 of 314
I wonder if this will play music/video like the touch. It does'nt seem that this would cut into those sales of the Touch, even if it did, because of the size. i think it will have wi-fi an BT. what else?
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post #11 of 314
It seems a little too soon and quite a lot to add to a product line so recently. That said, this think might have enough room to offers storage from a 1.8" hard drive, it could be more compact than any portable DVD player, offer room for maybe 100 movies, in a screen size that's competitive to a portable DVD player. It kind of sounds like another "hobby" device, but it is an interesting one. Isn't it a little large though? Newton was just huge and thankfully Palms were of a more reasonable size.
post #12 of 314
A sleek modern PDA with enough "juice" would actually be a semi-replacement for carrying a laptop. It would also be much easier to type on with human-size fingers!

The future of laptops is ultra-portable designs that don't get as hot as an oven and have sturdy flash-drives and get superb battery power. I would rather be carrying something like this while I'm traveling than a full-size laptop.
post #13 of 314
It's like deja vu..... all over again.

Just to be sure. I just read an article that said Apple was going to release the Newton, again. Right?
post #14 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandau View Post

you might be right, but why would i want a phone .and. a PDA? that would make as much sense as an iPod, iPhone and PDA on my mega utility belt. (not going to happen).

I going out to my shop to start fabrication of my Mega Utility Belt today!

I am damn giddy over this AppleInsider news...I mean the potential return of the Newton? Too cool.
post #15 of 314
I already carry around a iPod and a Smartphone. I say just open up the iPhone, somewhat, and let me ditch my smartphone.
post #16 of 314
I have the original Newton. When I got my iPhone, the first thing I thought was the iPhone didn't have some of the capabilities of the Newton. Combine the best of the Newton with the iPhone and Apple would have something truly amazing. Add a bunch of killer apps and you'd have a palmtop Mac.
post #17 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

I still have three of my Newtons! The iPhone simply represents where the Newton would have been had Apple kept-up its development, only it would have been better than this present release of the iPhone. If the iPhone had handwriting recognition I would be jumping for joy, and it would be an instant purchase on my part.

This is truly exciting news, at least for me. The 2100 Newton got it right, but Newton was already dead, and only those of us who loved it dearly hung-on until the end.

Still have my Newton 120 and I hope Apple will give me a way to move all my old hand drawn maps to the new PDA. Except for the extreme Apple bashing that was going on at that time I think the Newton could have survived. I have never had a moments trouble with mine and the handwriting recognition has worked great for me. I can take notes and it converts to text it is almost always (with minor errors) perfect.
post #18 of 314
The PDA is merely new functionality that will be added to the iPod and iPhone. Why on earth would you want a stand alone PDA without iPod or phone? C'mon guys, use your noggin. The iPhone and iPod touch ARE ultra mobile PCs, they just don't run a full suite of apps. But they are full powered PC devices running OSX and can pretty much run any desktop OS X app modified. You guys are seriously off the mark thinking this is a whole new device.
post #19 of 314
Ah, an Apple Tablet based around something that is probably in-between Mac OS X and iPhone OS X in functionality and features.

The on-screen keyboard should be easier to use though - in portrait mode it will be as big as the keyboard on the iPhone in landscape mode, although I think they would have to split it in landscape mode because the screen will be too big for thumbs to stretch to the centre.

The release of the Tablet, if it happens, will probably come at the same time, or a couple of months after the release of developer tools for the platform (it ain't very useful if it doesn't have third party applications!). It might just be that the developer tools will also support the iPhone and iPod Touch - if this rumoured Tablet utilises an ARM chip still.

Functionally it would be a larger iPod Touch + Bluetooth + user installable apps + more apps by default. No, it won't have a newton emulator for all those old applications...

An SD card slot would be useful too, Apple...
post #20 of 314
Allow an external keyboard (AND make your own, Apple) and I will never carry a laptop to class again.
post #21 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandau View Post

i don't get this. the iphone already does this and more, what would a larger form factor give you other than something harder to transport?

Of course if they were going into the medical field it might find use, but its just too big, imho.

we'll have to wait and see.

Can the iPhone decipher "lunch with bob on monday" and intelligently schedule an appointment, the next monday, at noon, with the most popular "Bob" in your contacts (and give you the chance to correct it)?

The Newton could. Nothing else today can. I believe Chronos got close, but that's a desktop app.

Thin as an iPhone, the area of a paperback, the high points of a Newton? I'll take it.
post #22 of 314
I always thought of a newton as more than a PDA, or inteded to be more than a PDA with a few limitations imposed by the state of technology at the time. The current "UMPC"

I would love to have something in the iPod touch category with schedule, address book, email, etc. In that form factor, that is a PDA. and I for one don't like to cary my PDA all the time, and sometimes what a smaller phone that slips into a pocket and (god forbid) if something happened to it is cheaper to replace.

I would buy a neo-Newton to take with me on travels and maybe do all of those things plus have the ability to work on a document or two, update a website/blog, deal with email attachments, download photos from my camera when it was full... all of the things I lug my MBP around for now.

But in the end those are two different devices. I would love to see apple bring something truely useable to the UMPC market and give us a Windows or Symbian alternative. But that isn't a PDA.
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post #23 of 314
How about they just add a working calendar and email program to the touch.
I would buy that today if it were available, and a lot of others would too.

There are a lot of people who want to have email and a calendar in their pocket who aren't going to buy an iPhone because of service issues or contracts.

There is no technical reason not to do this, apple is leaving $ on the table.

Bottom line is that I, and many others aren't going to wait for next year. I don't want to buy a palm or a blackberry, but if apple keeps hamstringing its products I just might have to...
post #24 of 314
Fascinating report, but I'm really not sure exactly who this product would be for.

PDAs are currently dying - they're being wiped out by smartphones.

Apple laptops are about to get even sleeker and thinner.

The main markets would seem to be vertical markets (doctors, business users for meetings, people taking notes or needing net access while walking/working) or as an e-reader where using a notebook is impossible or a nuisance (e.g. reading on the train). But that's not what Apple is interested in. They're interested in the mass market of mainstream consumers.

So, what's the mainstream use? Why do you need one of these in addition to a computer, iPod, and/or (smart)phone?

And how many people would be willing to pay (let's say) $599 for one? Or even $499?

I'm intrigued, mind you, but I'm unsure this would find a place in the mianstream market.
post #25 of 314
Please let it have an apple version of telekinesis so i can stream my home computer to it.


And 3d party apps.
post #26 of 314
I'm guessing that if this does turn out to be true, it will be using this as it's engine.

But it's not due out until 09.
post #27 of 314
[reads article... faints]

What happened!?


Oh! The Newton!! Gadzooks!
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post #28 of 314
I could see this as a larger iPhone, but pure PDAs are falling by the wayside as SmartPhones and smart cellphones gain PDA features.
post #29 of 314
Palm, Dell, HP, Sony, and every other PDA manufacturer learned years ago that the standalone PDA was a dead product. Microsoft proved that the "Tablet" PC and "Oragami" had no real market. Now Apple is going to come in and somehow create this market? I don't think so.

This is a product which has a very small, albeit vocal, following. It would do Apple very little good to pursue this with any kind of hopes for selling on the level of iPod or iPhone. As a R&D project that will eventually produce fruit for the iPhone and iPod platforms, maybe. As some technology that might make it into the ultra-portable laptop that's supposed to come out soon, maybe.

I agree that the Newton was more powerful in some ways than the iPhone. That's not the point. It was a brick. A big, giant brick that wouldn't fit into a woman's purse, let alone anyone's pants pocket. That alone limits its appeal.

And for those who think this would be a laptop replacement, try running Photoshop or even iPhoto on it. Until it can do that, it's not going to replace my laptop. Most people do a lot more than Microsoft Word with their computers these days.
post #30 of 314
3 Words:

Eat Up Martha.
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post #31 of 314
Hey, they could call it the Foleo now that Palm has seen sense. Really Apple, don't be so stupid - big ass PDA? WTF? Nobody wants them anymore. You've been listening to Intel and their silly MID device mockups again haven't you?


Just add the missing applications to the iPhone and iPod Touch and you've got the best PDA out there going, which also happen to be the best iPod and the best phone. Then let 3rd party developers fill the voids left. Done. Rebirth of the Newton completed.
post #32 of 314
I have been waiting a long time for this. I want a PDA device so bad that I'm seriously considering buying the IPaq 211. I would prefer the iNewton instead.
post #33 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

Hey, they could call it the Foleo now that Palm has seen sense. Really Apple, don't be so stupid - big ass PDA? WTF? Nobody wants them anymore. You've been listening to Intel and their silly MID device mockups again haven't you?

Well, admittedly, it's not that big - according to the mock-up it's around the size of a small paperback book (and much much thinner).

It's just not comfortably pocket-size.

And the biggest folly of the Foleo is that it required a Treo to use, which just made no sense. I assume this product, if it ever actually appears, will nicely sync up with your computer but operate as a standalone device. (Although do you have to hunt around for Wi-Fi hot spots to be able to go online, like the touch...?)

But it still seems to get real fuzzy when you think about what purpose it would serve. It's too big to be used as a music player or phone (though it'd be an fantastic video player or e-reader), and too limited to be used wholly as a laptop replacement. Unless Apple is counting on a large group of people who just want to watch videos and check e-mail on trips but (a) don't want to bring laptops (b) for some reason don't want an iPhone which does almost exactly what this device does plus is a phone, and (c) and are willing to spend hundreds of dollars for yet another device, I don't quite get it.
post #34 of 314
wut, apple will stick to the product previous name? Wow, if Apple is going to produce back PDA's, it would be soo cool to own one although I dont think I will ever need a PDA
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post #35 of 314
This is what I'm waiting to happen with the iPhone. I don't to risk bricking it. I'll just wait to see what happens.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

Hey, they could call it the Foleo now that Palm has seen sense. Really Apple, don't be so stupid - big ass PDA? WTF? Nobody wants them anymore. You've been listening to Intel and their silly MID device mockups again haven't you?


Just add the missing applications to the iPhone and iPod Touch and you've got the best PDA out there going, which also happen to be the best iPod and the best phone. Then let 3rd party developers fill the voids left. Done. Rebirth of the Newton completed.
post #36 of 314
Yeah, this product has the potential to really confuse consumers.

I have questions regarding what it is or isn't or could be or won't be:
  • Could we still consider it a successor to the Newton if it only has multi-touch and not handwriting recognition (Inkwell)?
  • Should or shouldn't it have cellular network access (implying voice and data applications)?
  • How should consumers see this (and how should Steve sell this as): a keyboardless Macbook? a really, really big iPhone? (Apple has gained a lot of new users. Telling them "The Newton is back!" may not mean anything to them).
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post #37 of 314
Makes no sense whatsoever as a PDA, ergo it's not a PDA. it's a full blown mac.

Anyone remember KORMAC?
post #38 of 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple Inc, which helped spawn the PDA market with its Newton MessagePad line in the early '90s, plans to give the concept another go with a modern day reincarnation of the old fan favorite based on the company's new mutli-touch technology, AppleInsider has learned.



I'm paying attention! Apple has needed the functions of a PDA for a long time - and my Palm Tungsten T is getting a bit long in the tooth. But why not just add the PDA functionality to the iTouch? I'd say iPhone, but I'm not ready to pay off Verizon quite yet. So lay it on the iTouch, or maybe the iTouch 2, with more memory and an even faster engine able to handle the apps. Oh, and while you're at it, a voice recorder and/or voice command input would be welcome.
post #39 of 314
Another interesting answer to a question Steve gave during All Things D in '04 along side the PDA comment during the Q&A session:

Quote:
During a Q&A session, one individual pleaded with Jobs (as he clenched his Treo), begging for Apple to produce a PDA/Phone hybrid. Jobs told the audience member it would be best to remain happy with his Treo.

Apple was well on their way in developing the iPhone at that time, right?! Sneeky Jobs..
post #40 of 314
It'd be nice if Apple included a GPS chip in it as well, even if the mapping software had to be obtained separately.

The only real similar product right now is the Nokia N800, which is getting a small but fervent following. It's definitely a productised research platform, with some nice uses.

I think iWork would be usable on an 800x480 display, so I would hope that was some of the software available. Then again I think it should be on the iPhone as well, but maybe it will make it there in due course as Apple can't do everything simultaneously.

Also eBooks should be quite nice to view on such a device, flicking the screen to switch pages, etc. Here's hoping that iTunes gets eBooks in the store to go alongside it, with free Project Gutenberg downloads as well.

And a Frotz emulator for those old Infocom text adventures!

And a small portable external keyboard, bluetooth of course!
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