This week, developers ripped apart the code of the beta release of iOS 5.1 and found a reference to two possible new Apple products: the long-awaited iPhone 5 and iPad 3. With the chatter ramping up on what features the new reincarnation of the world’s most popular tablet computer will contain, I’ve rounded up the top 10 features I would love to see on the new iPad.
1. Retina Display
This feature is probably No. 1 on everyone’s list – the iPad 3 may sport a similar display quality to that on the iPhone 4 and 4S. This retina display has, however, been the cause of some major head-scratching for Apple. A retina display was expected on the iPad 2 (especially owing to how popular it was on the iPhone 4) however production problems meant that the iPad 2 sported the same display as the iPad, with a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels. Internet reports say that Sharp, Samsung and LG are manufacturing the screens and that the new displays are already in production, making it a plausible reality.
The most likely scenario is that the iPad 3 will feature a double resolution display, possibly still termed a Retina display by Apple. The upscaling to a full retina display, as seen in the iPhone 4 and 4S, is that much more difficult with the larger screen of the iPad.
The iPad 3 is apparently going to sport a retina display, something that many people are looking forward to.
2. Thicker Design
Due to that retina display, the iPad 3 may be slightly thicker than the previous iPad 2 in order to accommodate the higher-quality display. Reports say that the iPad 3 will, on average, be 0.7 mm thicker than the iPad 2 however it will still remain thinner than the original iPad. I’m sure that this is a tradeoff that most people will be willing to accept, especially seeing as 0.7 mm is barely noticable during everyday use.
The iPad 3 is reckoned to be slightly thicker than the iPad 2.
3. A6 Processor
Apple is slated to equip the iPad 3 with its new A6 processor, which will be Apple’s first quad-core processor in a mobile device. Although we haven’t heard anything regarding possible speeds, we can expect that Apple will need to bump up the processor speed slightly for the better graphics and the better display. Expect somewhere between 1.5 and 2 GHz. The A6 processor might find a second home on the iPhone 5 as well, whenever it’s announced.
Although not yet in production, the iPad 3 is expected to sport an A6 quad-core processor.
4. Thunderbolt Support
Apple recently updated its line of MacBook Pro and iMac computers with a new Thunderbolt port, meaning that data can be transferred at speeds of up to 10 Gbps and it allows the user to connect a range of high-resolution devices (such as monitors). Seeing as how Apple has been pushing Thunderbolt on its range of desktop and laptop computers, it is not unlikely that the iPad 3 will sport some kind of Thunderbolt connector. The issue for Apple is, though, how to integrate this with the single dock connector without having the need for two different ports. Thunderbolt support on the new iPad would be pretty sweet, and people with large music libraries will certainly heave a sigh of relief.
Thunderbolt support may be coming to the iPad 3 in one form or another.
5. Two Different Versions
With the release of smaller, cheaper tablets such as the Kindle Fire, Apple may be looking to release a new, smaller iPad (touted the ‘iPad Mini’) in order to compete with cheaper tablets. Rumours have it that Apple is looking to produce a slightly cheaper 7-8 inch iPad model with the same specifications however with a slightly smaller screen size. This would certainly make the iPad a good choice for a starting tablet and mean that consumers wouldn’t have to break the bank when they buy one.
The likelihood of Apple actually separating the iPad into two different models is pretty slim, however, especially given that the iPad already competes incredibly well on price with all other equivalent tablets (you can’t count the discontinued and heavily discounted HP TouchPad).
Apple may produce an iPad mini, halfway between an iPhone and a full-sized iPad, in order to compete with cheaper tablets on the market.
6. Near-Field Communications
Near-Field Communications (NFC) are a growing technology that allows smartphones and tablets to explore a whole range of previously unexplored possibilities. Android devices have already seen the likes of NFC with the Gingerbread update and Apple may be equipping its future devices (we can presume for the time being that these are the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5) with NFC technology. This will allow consumers to, for example, pay wirelessly using their phone and use contactless tickets on public transport.
NFC allows wireless communication between two enabled devices, meaning you could use your Apple device to pay wirelessly for your shopping.
7. 4G Support
Although 4G has found solid ground in some parts of the U.S. on certain wireless carriers, here in Europe it is still trying to take off and coverage is limited to very few areas. Reports from Nikkei Business showed that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook had been in talks with the Japanese wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo in order to make the iPad 3 (and, most probably, the iPhone 5) 4G capable. This would mean blazing download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, a speed that leaves 3G connections behind with their tails between their legs. Of course, this would be a massive plus for someone who lives in an area with 4G coverage, however for most of us it will just be a white elephant until the necessary infrastructure upgrades are completed.
Apple is one of the last technology manufacturers to provide 4G support.
8. Better Battery Life
Thanks to that new A6 processor and that beefed-up retina display, it can be assumed that Apple is going to pack a bigger and better battery into the iPad 3 to ensure that you don’t run out of juice after only a few hours. This better battery offering may, however, compromise on the overall price of the new device (according to Electricpig), however, Apple may find a way of absorbing the cost of the new battery somewhere else.
The battery pack in the iPad 2. The iPad 3 is expected to have a better battery offering owing to the new processor and high-res display.
9. Siri Integration
One of the major talking points of the iPhone 4S was Siri, an interactive voice assistant which allows the user to speak to his or her phone in order to interact with it. Siri is (officially anyway) only available on the iPhone 4S but given its popularity it may migrate to other Apple devices in the near future. Just don’t look too baffled when you see people in the street talking to their iPad…
Siri has been ported unofficially onto jailbroken iPads however Apple may integrate it with the iPad 3.
10. March Release Date
Judging by Apple’s release schedule, it seems like the iPad 3 will be released sometime in March 2012 (the original iPad was released in April 2010 and the iPad 2 in March 2011), however, some internet reports have suggested that problems with retina display procurement may push this date back somewhat. One thing is for sure though, Apple sure is working hard on getting the iPad 3 done and dusted as soon as possible and the release date, whenever it is, will surely be something to look forward to!
I hope this little roundup of possible iPad 3 features has already got you excited about its release! Of course, it’s all speculation and we know that Apple are extremely secretive when it comes to revealing features about its upcoming products. Only time will tell to see whether these rumours hold up.
In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. What feature are you looking forward to most on the iPad 3? Have I missed out any new features? Will the iPad 3 finally feature that retina display we’ve all been longing for? Get discussing – I’d love to hear your opinions!