As the tech world braces for the inevitable onslaught of coverage when Apple releases the iPad 2, speculation is now rampant that the iPad 3 may not very far behind.
It’s only been a year since Apple introduced us to the versatile tablet, so why the rush to push out the iPad 3? It’s not often that a company tries to outdo its own design in less than two years’ time ─ and twice, no less. Well, part of the reason may be the swelling competition. HP recently announced multitasking Palm TouchPad, which features not only a thinner build than the iPad , but also a built-in camera for video conferencing . While the iPad 2 is rumored to have a camera included as well, Apple might be ramping up its own technology to stay ahead of the growing tablet pack.
It is almost hard to believe how tablet technology has changed in a short year, and interesting to imagine where it might be headed. The iPad has revolutionized the way we thinking about mobile computing and the next generation of devices is sure to expand those boundaries even farther. And it’s worth having a comparison look to see where we’ve been and where we are going.
Released in April 2010, the iPad has sold 14.8 million units. When Apple released the device, it created a sea change in the nascent tablet computing space with technologies far surpassing anything the mark had seen before. With its easy-to-use touch screen and bright, colorful display, 9.7-inch screen at a capacity of 1024 x 768, with crystal clear imagery intact, the iPad soon put a stranglehold on the market.
The device is also backwards compatible with a large portion of iPhone apps, while supporting the latest iPad apps offered through the App Store, making it ideal for users with a huge backlog of purchased programs and games.
The iPad also offers two display types – Portrait and Landscape. These viewpoints change depending on how it’s held. Turn it 90 degrees and the display automatically shifts with it unless it’s a pre-set app meant to stay in a previous setting. This tilt-sensitive technology also works with a number of games, like racing titles such as Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit and Real Racing HD. It also features an easy-to-use volume control set-up, as well as a “home” button on the front of the unit and a power off/on button at the top.
While the iPad continues to impress a year later, it is far from perfect. It is missing some features such as a glare-free screen (it’s hard to use outside, even with the brightness turned all the way up), and the lack of a USB port (or SD MicroCard port) and a camera, a vital feature in most competing tablets. Overall, the iPad has paved the way for tablet technology, staying ahead of the competition in 2010 and introducing yet another effective Apple device to market.
The next step, however, will be critical to suss out the increasingly competitive slate market.
It looks like Apple will be improving the iPad 2 in terms of size. The original could hardly be considered bulky, but it is expected the newest version will be thinner and lighter, made with a compound alloy metal frame. The screen might shrink to 7 inches down from its current 9.7 inches, but the new retina display should eliminate the glare problem. The device might also borrow something that’s popular with the iPhone 4 model, dual cameras. A front and rear facing camera setup would allow for the use of FaceTime, a video chatting feature where you can talk with people. This is also important if Apple expects to grab a larger piece of the businesses market. The cameras make possible business video conferencing.
The iPad 2 is also rumored to have an SD card slot and USB port, making life simpler for those who want to connect the tablet directly to another electronic device. Uploading photos, movies and other things would be far easier than having to track down an iTunes compatible computer to sync programs. The only question that comes now is how easy it will be to transfer them over without the middleman, but something tells us that a new operating system could resolve that.
As iPadNewsDaily recently reported , Apple is considering three different models of the iPad 2, perhaps to accommodate different services, such as the 3G and Wi-Fi that the original do. The iPad 2 could also support other networks, including GSM and CDMA, making worldwide web browsing and online connectivity easier than ever before. It also helps that Verizon, who recently partnered with Apple on a new iPhone service plan, uses CDMA.
Perhaps the biggest improvement will be a ramped up processor that will have more memory and create a much faster machine. Although the current processor works well with the iPad, adding new network features and possible FaceTime implementation, it helps to have powerful processing capabilities.
The iPad 2, it has been widely reported by sources inside Apple’s outsourced component manufacturing firms, will come with a 2GHz processor, slightly more powerful than the built-in one with the BlackBerry PlayBook. The built-in memory would show an increase to 512 MB, same as the iPhone, while the capacity of the device could vary by model. The original iPad came out with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, and Apple could easily boost that for the second model, with possible 128 GB and 256 GB editions.
The iPad 2 is rumored to already be in production and could be out as early as the end of this month, so it makes sense to actually begin thinking about what the iPad 3 might be like.
While the front and rear cameras aren’t guaranteed on the iPad 2, the third model of the iPad would almost certainly add the feature along with a three-axis gyroscope set-up similar to the iPhone 4 model. The original iPad currently does not have one despite its advanced movement technology.
Apple might very well be saving the best for the iPad 3 in an effort to assemble the most innovative technologies into a cohesive machine. It’s possible that the company may consider the technology and the form factor don’t really fit together right now. They are definitely going smaller while retaining the same high-definition options and retina support. However, getting smaller and adding certain functionalities might not be feasible at this point.
The company could also be considering HDMI compatibility with the iPad 3, perfect for hooking up the device to a television for movie viewing or other purposes. This would be an ideal business move for those showing off their created apps to would-be buyers or gamers looking to see what’s happening on a bigger screen.
Other improvements could be made as well. The iPad 3 could have an even stronger build than the iPad 2, with even less thickness and weight to it. However, most of the technological features would remain the same, outside of an improved operating system, and additional storage options and RAM.
In a few weeks we’ll have a clearer picture of what Apple thinks about the feature of the tablet market. The company is firmly cast as the tablet king. On the surface, the second iPad sounds very promising but if previous Apple next-generation gadgets are any indictor, expect to see a quantum leap with the third device.