New Apple iPad production kicks off, with rumoured daylight-friendly screen

Apple next generation of iPads won't be launching to hungry consumers it's enjoyed in previous years.

With iOS 8 unveiled , an iPhone 6 launch date set , and an iWatch waiting in the wings, Apple is now thought to have started up production on two new iPad models, both set to arrive before Christmas.

According to Bloomberg's sources, Apple has already started manufacturing the forthcoming 9.7-inch iPad, presumably the next generation of the iPad Air. The device should be unveiled by the end of this quarter or during the early part of the following one, Bloomberg reports. It adds that numbers of the larger model may be capped by "manufacturing complications related to the use of a new anti-reflection coating", intended to help readability in daylight.

Also on its way is a new 7.9-inch iPad mini, likely to be available by the end of the year.

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The timing, if correct, shouldn't be a surprise, since it falls in line with the November timeframe for iPad releases that Apple moved to with the 2012 launch of the fourth-generation iPad and the first iPad Mini. 

The next generation of iPads will however launch to a markedly different environment to previous years', following consecutive quarters of significant year-on-year declines. This year's third quarter iPad sales of 13.3 million were down nine percent from 14.6 million a year earlier, while the second quarter sales for 2014 fell 16 percent year to 16.35 million.

Tech analysts believe Android phablets are eating into tablet sales across the board; however, the decline in iPad sales has been bigger than many Wall Street analysts expected for Apple's second biggest product category behind the iPhone.

Apple chief exec Tim Cook has said he's not worried about soft iPad sales and has repeatedly pointed to the company's greater focus on the enterprise, where tablet penetration remains relatively low, and on China.

Declining tablet sales may also partly explain its recent tie-up with IBM aimed at bring more iPhone and iPad devices to the enterprise.

And if phablets are eating up tablet sales, Apple's 5.5-inch display iPhone 6 may help it take a slice of that market. Apple has reportedly set the product launch for 9 September.

Besides hardware though, iOS 8 is expected to be one of the biggest updates to its OS in recent years, addressing several gaps that have emerged between it and Android, including allowing third-party keyboards, widgets, and data-sharing between apps, which overall spell a less locked-down approach to iOS.

Apple is also rumoured to be releasing an iWatch this year .

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