Is it too early to start talking about the iPad 3? We don’t think so! Apple announced the iPad 2 in January of this year, so it follows that iPad 3 will make headlines in just a few months. Here are the 10 upgrades we want most.
The second generation iPad gave us built-in cameras for photos, video, and FaceTime; a significantly faster processor; and an overall thinner, lighter device. Then we got iOS 5 just last week, which has brought a lot of upgrades to iDevices that we’ve been waiting (er, begging?) for, like untethered devices that don’t require syncing, and the glory that is iCloud.
But Apple’s next big refresh will undoubtedly be the iPad hardware itself (barring a major update to the MacBook Air before the end of the year, which is certainly possible). So here’s what do we hope to see, along with odds on it actually happening.
1. Retina Display
More than anything else, our most-wanted feature is a stunning, high-definition screen with the same 326 pixels per inch as the iPhone 4. Science tells us that this is well above the pixels-per-inch required to make it impossible for our human eyes to detect pixelization, which makes Apple’s Retina Display screen every bit as sharp as seeing something in the real world with your own eyes. But making a tiny iPhone screen with this kind of resolution is one thing. Making a screen that’s more than four times the size of the iPhone’s with Retina Display is a significantly bigger challenge. But we know Apple’s been working on this for a while now, and iPad 3 should be when it finally makes its debut. Imagine the possibilities for gaming, photography, video, and ebooks with true HD on a tablet-sized screen.
Odds: 90%. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s pretty darn close.
2. New Camera
The iPad 2′s camera is decent, but nothing special. The camera on the new iPhone 4S is a thing of beauty, capable of taking truly stunning, high-res images and 1080p HD video. The iPad deserves a camera at least as good, if not better. And the iPad’s additional internal space should make it easy to fit an even better camera in there than what the iPhone 4S has. Hopefully it’ll have a flash, too.
Odds: 100%. A powerful new camera in the iPad 3 is as close to a sure thing as you can get when it comes to Apple.
3. Quad-core A6 Processor
The iPad 2 is already pretty darn fast, but when it comes to personal computing, you’re either the fastest, or you’re forgotten. The iPad 2 gave us the A5 dual-core processor, so it logically follows that iPad 3 will take another big jump in speed. And if it has that rumored Retina Display, it’ll need a quad-core to handle all that high-def imagery.
Odds: 75%. It’s a matter of public record that Apple’s working on a quad-core “A6″ chip. The only question is whether or not it will be ready in time for the next iPad.
Time was, I’d've loved to have seen a USB port on one side of my iPad, because having to transfer everything via the cord that comes with it for syncing can take quite a while, and kinda sucks. But now that syncing is done wirelessly, the only real draw for connecting my iPad to another device would be the convenience of speedy data transfers. And nothing’s faster than the blazing speeds of Thunderbolt. In conjunction with that crazy fast new processor, Thunderbolt would come in mighty handy — but only if it doesn’t require a funky adapter.
Odds: 50%. It’s still a technology in its infancy, so it simply may not be ready yet. But Apple wants Thunderbolt to overtake USB as the new standard, and there’s no better way to make that happen than by incorporating it into its most popular products.
There’s nothing about the iPhone 4S generating more buzz than Siri, the interactive voice command app that’s built so seamlessly into iOS 5 that it resembles a powerful artificial intelligence. Of course Apple is planning to bring Siri to the iPad, and I’m curious to see if the unique qualities of the iPad will give Siri any different capabilities.
Odds: 100%. Total no-brainer.
6. >64GB of Flash Storage
The iPad has maxed out at 64GB of storage space since it debuted, but with the various forms of media available for the device — music, movies, books, apps — getting bigger and more complex all the time, it’s getting harder and harder to squeeze everything you want onto your tablet. Many users (myself included) find themselves having to pick and choose which media to keep on their iPad at any given time, and frequently having to switch out what’s there. It’s high time Apple crammed at least 128GB in there, though the thought of a 256GB iPad makes me drool unashamedly.
Odds: 60%. It’s all about the size of those flash chipsets. Over time, they grow smaller while maintaining — or increasing — their storage space. Apple will gladly put as much as they can in there, but at the end of the day, it’s kinda out of their hands.
7. Redesigned Form
The original iPad and the iPad 2 look very similar, with that inch-wide bezel on top and some minor variations in curvature on the back. The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter (and comes in white), but from a distance, you’d be hard-pressed to tell a first-gen from a second. Every tablet maker out there, from Amazon to Samsung, has copied Apple’s tablet hardware design. If Apple doesn’t push forward, it won’t be able to keep setting the standard that everyone else follows. Personally, I’d like to see a thinner bezel/frame surrounding the screen that’s part of an all-aluminum unibody. But that’s just me. It could be cool to see flattened sides similar to the iPhone 4, instead of the beveled sides the iPad has now.
Odds: 40%. Apple seems pretty happy with what they have design-wise, and tweaking the form factor will be driven more by the device’s internal features than any aesthetic concerns (even though aesthetics are very important to Apple).
8. Fingerprint-Resistant Screen
This may seem like a small thing, but anybody who’s spent a few hours with an iPad knows exactly what I’m talking about. The iPad is a fingerprint magnet, and can get so bad after just an hour or so of use, that frankly it can be downright embarrassing to whip it out in public, and then have to buff it off with the edge of your shirt. With all the technology available today, there has to be a scientific way to keep those fingerprints at bay, and it’s a feature that’s long overdue.
Odds: 70%. Apple owns a patent for an oil-resistant substance called an “oleophobic,” which we assume they plan to apply to the glass surface of touchscreen devices. The only question is, when will it be ready for prime time?
9. Solar Charging
Apple’s had a major emphasis on going green over the last few years, and what’s greener than harnessing solar energy? The ability to simply lay your iPad in a windowsill to recharge sounds downright progressive, and would make it the world’s greenest tablet.
Odds: 15%. Apple actually has a really cool idea for embedding solar cells beneath a touchscreen, but it’s almost a given that this technology would be implemented in the iPhone before the iPad ever got it.
10. Lower Price
Hey, we can dream.
Odds: 5%. We should just consider ourselves lucky that Apple likes to keep prices the same while upgrading internal specs.