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2012 is set to be a bumper year for Apple

Few companies manage to create such a whirlwind of speculation around fictional products as Apple and 2011 proved to be another rumour-packed year.

As we enter 2012, the International Business Times UK looks into its crystal ball to see what objects of geeky desire Apple will treat us to over the next 12 months.

The iPad 3 is widely expected to be announced soon, with a late-February/early-March release date - possibly on Steve Jobs' February 24 birthday. Most iPad 3 rumours surround its screen, which is expected to be a 'retina' display producing twice the pixels of the iPad 2, meaning a huge resolution of 2048x1536.

As with previous generations, the new iPad will have a faster and more powerful processor - to be called the A6 - which will see the iPad reclaim the top step of Apple's iOS podium, followed by the A5-powered iPhone 4S.

Apple isn't expected to change the iPad design much, although it could become slightly thicker because of an extra LED backlight behind the shiny new retina display.

A rumour that circulated several months ago - but has since all but died - is the prospect of an iPad mini. With a 7-inch screen, it would be nearly three inches smaller than its bigger brother and could take the fight to Amazon and its bargain-basement Kindle Fire tablet.

The iPhone 5 was put on such an enormous pedestal that punters could be forgiven for thinking that the fictional device would swoop down from the heavens, cure every known disease and fix the economy; all before breakfast. But what we got was the iPhone 4S, a seemingly minor update to the 4 with a not-so-intelligent personal assistant called Siri.

Our International Business Times UK crystal ball predicts that the next iPhone will arrive sometime in the third quarter of 2012, but specific details are few and far between. As the iPhone 4S was an update to the 4 and the 3GS was to the 3G it stands to reason that the next model (called either iPhone 5 or iPhone 6) will feature a major design update.

Like those relatives who hang around a little too long after Christmas dinner, talk of an Apple television refuses to go away: the mystery device was even offered a second helping of dessert after it was mentioned in Jobs' biography, published in October.

Biographer Walter Isaacson wrote that Jobs had "cracked" the future of television and would offer "the simplest user interface you could imagine".

Apple has sold a set-top box - the Apple TV - for several years but sales initially struggled, prompting Jobs to call the device a hobby. Sales picked up after the second-generation model was launched - letting users stream iTunes content from their Mac and online to their television - but an actual television produced by Apple would be something new.

Rumoured to be available in 32 and 37 inches, it could arrive towards the end of 2012, although recent reports claim a second or third-quarter release date.

With major updates to its iOS lines expected, and a new product tipped to enter the market soon, 2012 is set to be a busy year for Apple and these products will, of course, rely heavily on iTunes and the AppStore to provide content, and the iCloud to allow device-wide syncing.