Apple is planning to release three versions of the iPad 2 next year, Taiwanese newspaper Digitimes reported, citing anonymous sources.

The company could begin mass production sometime in January for a launch projected by the end of the first quarter or beginning of the second, according to Digitimes, which covers the technology industry in Asia, where the iPad is produced.

With its second generation of iPads, Apple reportedly is aiming to expand wireless Internet connectivity options and improve the device's anti-smudge and anti-reflective screen components.

Digitimes reported that Apple is expected to ship 40 million units of the iPad 2 in 2011, comprising 65-75 percent of the world's tablet PC market.

The news was widely picked up online, but Apple has refused to comment. The report follows a slew of other rumors about the improved iPad that also have come out of Asia.

Last week, Japanese website Kanteidan Blog reported that new iPad will be slightly smaller, though the screen will remain the same size. The back of the iPad 2 also is expected to be flat, similar to the iPhone 4.

It also reported that the new version will have both front- and rear-facing cameras as well as a "wide-ranged" speaker in the lower right back side of the device.

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