Apple tablets spotted at Cupertino campus

With 'T Day' rapidy approaching, rumours are sure to start ramping up to fever pitch about the Apple iProd, or iPad, or iSlate depending on which of the manifold possible names you favour.

Wednesday will apparently see Steve Jobs announcing what some are hailing as the main event to the iPhone's warm up act, a new all-singing, all-dancing tablet computing device which will change the face of technology forever. From the way some hacks are falling over themselves to pronounce the Second Coming of technology, we wouldn't be surprised if the iSlab managed to buy everyone on the planet a beer, eradicate all known diseases, end world hunger and cause the outbreak of global peace and love.

If the fabled Apple tablet device does come to fruition (pun intended), the reality might, however, be a little more mundane. Analytics outfit Flurry has been snooping around the Californian company's Cupertino Campus recently and reckons it has spotted "approximately 50 devices that match the characteristics of Apple's rumoured tablet device" being tested.

There is, of course, the possibility that these devices are protoype fourth-generation iPhones but Peter Farago from Flurry nixes that theory. "If this were an iPhone we were looking at, the hardware would tell us when we ask it via the software. So we can rule out that this is an iPhone. Also, we already see verified iPhone devices testing OS 4.0 and these leave campus, whereas this device does not."

Apple employees are reportedly testing up to 200 applications on the yet-to-be-announced device, and Flurry is making the broad assumption that the apps being tested are an indication of the eventual market placement of the iPad.

Of the 200 individually identifiable titles being tested, 150 are games, leading Flurry to assert that Apple's new baby will be an entertainment machine aimed at gamers. We, on the other hand, have to assume that testers would much rather play games than fiddle about with spreadsheets and e-book readers. And what would be the point of testing a GPS app if you're not allowed to move outside the confines of the Apple campus?

It's also quite clear that sophisticated, processor-hungry games are able to push the hardware much harder than any social notworking application or news reader ever will. Testing hardware is about pushing the various components to breaking point, which is why computers are so often judged by the frame rates they can achieve in Crysis rather than the dusty analytics churned out by benchmarketing applications.

Flurry also points out that the device seems to be running an update version of the current iPhone OS (3.1.2), so you can expect 3.2 to be announced on Wednesday as well.