It’s easy to do: you hear about an iPad announcement and your imagination runs wild. “New iPad? I’ve heard it’s completely clear, has a holographic display, can read your thoughts, and cook you breakfast!”
Whoa there, haus. We here at ApplEvangelist.com would hate to see you disappointed this Wednesday when CEO Tim Cook takes the stage at Apple’s big event. Let us just burst your bubble here and now so that you have some chance of being surprised and excited. Consider it a favor. You can thank us later.
THE BARE MINIMUM
If the speculation around the iPhone 5 taught us anything it’s that, despite astronomical expectations and “only” the 4S being released, a new Apple device will pack enough updates to warrant purchase regardless of them falling short of the wishes of fanboys the world over.
So let’s get on the same page: The iPad 2 is a fantastic device. Even with the plethora of tablets hitting store shelves these days, the iPad 2, at almost a year old, still stacks up as one of the best, if not the best, tablet available. Any upgrade to the iPad would just serve to strengthen its position at the top of the pack.
So what’s the bare minimum? What are the fewest number of upgrades Apple could make and not be laughed off the stage?
It seems all but confirmed now that the next iPad will have a “Retina” display. This new display will have 4X the number of pixels as the current iPad; making it a better display than virtually every laptop currently made. The screen will be quite an achievement; with comparable crispness to that of a glossy magazine. To make this display go, Apple will need to include an upgraded graphics processor and more RAM.
In typical Apple fashion, these updates will be touted as revolutionary. And let’s be honest, we will still be in line the day it’s released. Set your expectations at this level and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
As for the name? Our bet is on iPad HD.
99% Probability (of at least this or more)
YOUR BEST BET
You may not be crushed if you simply believe the most credible leaks and sources that have surfaced in the last few weeks. Reliable sources like The Wall Street Journal and the famous ‘Mr. X’ that checks in at http://www.9to5mac.com along with what appear to be actual parts from a new iPad have all pointed to some fairly consistent specs.
Along with a Retina display, most informed leaks are pointing to the next generation of Apple processor; a quad-core processor with a significant speed bump. This information directly contradicts some physical evidence of an only slightly modified chip from that of the iPad 2. The iPad 3 could come with only this slightly updated processor. But don’t be disappointed if it does. Apple consistently gets better performance than competitors who utilize beefier chips. Code in the iPad software points to both an A5X upgraded chip and an all new A6 chip, so either is possible. If it is an A6, bet on it incorporating a new type of architecture that could improve performance even more than the extra cores.
Probability of new A6 70%
The iPad 2 only has 512MB of RAM. Though less than many of its competitors, the iPad consistently performs better with less. At this point, Apple will need to up the RAM to a gigabyte in order to drive the new screen. Expect even better performance all the way around for your apps too.
LTE is the next generation of cellular service. Verizon has a fairly robust LTE presence and AT&T is beginning a large rollout as well. With speeds up to 20 times faster than 3G, LTE would make for a drastically faster machine in regard to web surfing, etc. The issue with LTE is battery life. The chips currently made are fairly power hungry. The phones hocked by the hokey commercials on TV get great data speeds but literally can only last a few hours. If Apple includes LTE it will be first on the iPad where Apple has more space for the size of battery needed. The two things Apple won’t concede on are battery life and entry level price.
Siri has been a big success so far; even in Beta. Apple has big plans for Siri and will most likely be rolling it out to most of its new mobile devices. Siri for iPad 3 is a safe bet. Dictation seems a natural fit for a device Apple is beginning to tout as a productivity tool. But, in all actuality, including Siri with the new iPad is simply a way to future proof the device for what will be a big year for Apple and voice commands.
Probability 80 %
Apple’s MacBook Pro line of laptops have a great camera for video chatting. The FaceTime HD camera offers video at 720p (technically HD). This seems a natural fit for the iPad. We’ve filed it under Cautiously Optimistic because we have no idea how hard it would be to fit a FaceTime HD camera into an iPad.
AirPlay is the future for Apple. They don’t make a big deal about it now, but along with iCloud and voice commands, AirPlay will be the vehicle for allowing your iPad or iPhone to become the only computer you need. Apple may very well take another step in that direction with their announcement on Wednesday. With improvements to Bluetooth and wireless technology, AirPlay will only get better. There’s something big in store for AirPlay. But no one outside of Apple knows what that is.
Since Steve Jobs declared thermonuclear war on Google and their (originally) borrowed ideas in Android, Apple has actively been pursuing talent and technologies to implement its own mapping service to free itself from Google’s backend Map services once and for all. The technology they’ve acquired is impressive. It’s only a matter of time before they release it publicly. Could a high resolution iPad be the best device to introduce it on? 3D rendered maps software would look impressive on an iPad. Though, seeing as most people use maps on their phone, it could be released as a key feature of iOS 6 when the next iPhone is announced.
A GUY CAN DREAM, CAN’T HE?
As we discussed in our iPad HD announcement post, Apple frequently hides some clues to their announcements in plain sight. The “And touch” tag line in this years invitation could be nothing or everything. Haptic feedback is an emerging technology that Apple has shown interest in through their patent filings. This technology gives a user tactile sensations when interacting with a glass screen like that on the iPad. Theoretically, a user typing on a flat glass iPad could feel as though they were typing on a real keyboard. Could this be what the “And touch.” is referring to? Honestly, we think the technology is just too young for Apple to utilize at this point. This seems like something we may not experience for years to come.
Probability 50% updated
Some have theorized that the “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” line in the invite is referring to two product announcements meant to work in tandem: see = AppleTV and touch = iPad 3. We have felt for some time that iCloud, Siri, and AirPlay are integral to Apple’s future TV strategy. Will the newest iPad become the best TV remote ever? Will it allow you to send one live TV signal to a monitor while searching other channels and internet, iTunes, and iCloud sources and engaging in social media on the iPad? Maybe we’ll know soon.
PIE IN THE SKY
Someday soon we will see the beginnings of a new computing paradigm. Every computer you’ll need will reside in your pocket..on one device. Your smartphone or tablet will serve as a point of authentication. Place your iPhone or iPad next to a computer at work and it automatically logs you in, changes the computer to your settings, backgrounds, desktop, etc and gives you access to all your files and applications. When you’re ready to leave, just pick up your device and walk away. The computer logs you out and leaves no trace of you being there.
This proximity based computing could extend to your television and even your car stereo/display, each with a custom skin for usability but with access to all of your music, photos, videos, and documents.
With near field communication chips, Bluetooth, and AirPlay, anything with a screen could suddenly become your own personal device. Apple is thinking in this direction. Big things will be on the horizon if the new iPad HD comes equipped with enhanced Bluetooth capabilities and NFC chips.
Probability < 1%
WHAT’S THE POINT?
The point is that we here at ApplEvangelist really have no clue what to expect. It’s easy to start dreaming big and then find yourself disappointed when the product is unveiled. Temper your expectations now and Apple won’t let you down. While this is the first major product to launch without Steve Jobs, Apple has proven over the last 10 years that they know what the average user needs and wants out of their devices. Sometime before we do. Regardless of what is announced, it will be a solid product with great intangibles: AppleCare, build quality, half a billion Apps, and reliability will keep the iPadHD (iPad 3? 2S?) flying off the shelves.