The Next iPad

Last week, Apple issued an invitation for an event in Yerba Buena Center for Arts in 7th of March. The invitation clearly shows that they are going to talk about the iPad. For the third time in a row, Apple chose this place to announce the new iPad. Last year, Gruber written The Chair after the iPad 2 event. He started with:

Even the chair on the stage was the same

I can’t help but think this event will also have the same tone. It will be the repeat of the first two iPad introductions. However this time the man of the show, Steve Jobs, is not going to be there. This marks the first iPad introduction without him around, and it’s clear from the first two iPad events that this is the piece of work that he is most proud of.

While everyone are discussing about the new hardware improvements, I’d like to say that this event will also have a big emphasis on the software. We know that the iWork suite and the iLife suite was introduced in the first two iPad introductions. What will be introduced in this event? An easy guess is iPhoto for iPad. Last year it was weird that only GarageBand and iMovie took the stage. iPhoto wasn’t mentioned at all.

On the Mac side iPhoto is probably the most popular app in the iLife suite. However the current iPad’s Photo app actually has a bit of editing functionalities that iPhoto has. I wonder if it’s actually worth rewriting iPhoto from ground up instead of improving the current Photo app. Adobe just released Photoshop for iPad a week ago, and it looks amazing. However one part of Photoshop for iPad that seems a little bit weird to me is how you export and import photos to the app. At the moment the API that Apple has only allow developers to see a photo out of the user’s library. This way Adobe or any other apps can’t really see the whole library without asking the user to go through it themself and copy all of them across to the app. Apple has the power to integrate their photo editing app tightly with the user data, and it may be a good time for them to do that now.

Hardware wise, I think this time the next iPad is definitely going to have a retina display. This is big. The iPad will probably have more pixel count than any laptops that Apple sells at the moment. I’d like to see how Apple is going to show this on the projector, it will be very difficult to show the audience if they can’t see see it themself.

The funny thing is while most people know the iPhone has the best display on the mobile phone ever, I’m not convinced that they actually don’t know what retina display means. When I start talking about pixels per inch on a display, it seems like not that many people (even iPhone owners) knows what I’m mean.

I don’t know what the new iPad’s processor is going to be called, but I’m not convinced that quad core processors are ready for use this time around. Let’s hope that I’m wrong because I really like to see quad core processor running on the iPad. The bottleneck in iOS devices right is RAM though, so hopefully they are being generous this time on the RAM. I think currently you can’t do much multitasking on the iPad if you’re using memory intensive apps. My iPad 1 can hold about 2 or 3 apps at a time before the OS starts killing all the other apps, iPad 2 can do much better but having more RAM will certainly help.

Some people also hinted that the next iPad is going to have LTE, but I doubt this claim. iPads are one of Apple products that’s being rolled out internationally very quickly, and there doesn’t seem to be an LTE capable carrier in every country that iPads are shipping to. If it’s going to happen, maybe it’s going to be US only like the CDMA iPad, but I doubt that it’ll happen 1.

The form factor of the new iPad might also be very similar to iPad 2’s form factor. I’m also inclined to think that this may be a very good time to increase the storage size and offer a 128GB option, but I’m not sure if Apple will do it this time around. Flash memory is still very expensive, I think it might take a while for the storage options to go up. iPad 2 might still be around for sale too I think. I don’t think they’ll downgrade it to 8GB like last year’s iPhone model, but I think they’ll make it very cheap. I hope they sell if at $349, but it’s more likely that they’ll go with $399.

Apple may also be sneaking in an updated Apple TV in the event. I know that they’ve never announced anything else in the previous iPad events, but I’d like to think that they may slowly be positioning Apple TV as iOS peripherals. So I think pretty soon they’ll just group the announcement for these together with iPad docks and HDMI connectors. It’s probably just a spec bump, but I’d love to see 1080p video running on new Apple TV.

Lastly, I don’t have any inside info and I suck really bad at predicting new Apple products. You’ll all see and laugh at how wrong I am in a few days. However I do think that whatever comes out, it’ll blow away all of the competitors. I think current competitors in tablet area are barely even catching up with the iPad 2 in term of specs and price2. We’ll see how they do that in just a few more days.

  1. If it indeed happens, I hope Australian carrier act fast. 

  2. With the exception of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which I think is the smartest competitor so far.