Apple, as usual, is keeping the tablet's specs under wraps. But here's what we want to see.
Enterprise Tablet Shootout
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Apple hasn't said anything about how the next iPad will differ from the iPad 2. But the company, fanatic in its secrecy, seldom says anything.
Even when Apple has to say something--when addressing investors, for example--it says little, while it promises a lot.
Discussing Apple's iPad business on a conference call for investors in January, CEO Tim Cook made the next iPad sound pretty good, if not insanely great, while not actually revealing any substantive details.
"In terms of other tablets, last year was supposed to be the year of the tablet," Cook said. "I think most people would agree, it was the year of the iPad for the second year in a row. And so we're just going to continue to innovate like crazy in this area. And we think we can continue to compete with anyone that is currently shipping tablets or that might enter in the future."
That's confidence: We can compete not just with present contenders but future possibilities.
Or perhaps it's just hyperbole, marketing by any other name. Lest we forget, Apple is keen to remind us that it is "defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad."
There are several potential new features that probably won't make it to the iPad 3. Waterproofing, for example, would be nice. But not everyone needs a waterproof tablet, so Apple isn't likely to make everyone pay for this feature. And that's to say nothing of the design changes that would be necessary. Waterproofing would best be handled by an iPad case maker.
LTE communications hardware is another possibility that probably won't make the cut. Low-power LTE chips are only just starting to become available to manufacturers. Apple will probably bring LTE to its iPhone 5 and wait until iPad 4 before implementing LTE in a tablet form factor.
Next generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips were previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but including them in the iPad 3 seems premature. Apple will probably refresh its AirPort Extreme router with an 802.11ac chip before it begins upgrading Wi-Fi in its devices.
There's ongoing uncertainty about whether the Apple A6 chip that's expected to be in the iPad 3 will have two or four cores. A quad-core A6 could consume more power than its predecessor, which might require a larger battery and/or thicker form factor. Apple would presumably prefer to push its iPad 3 design in the opposite direction. So a dual-core chip could have some advantages.
About the only thing that's almost guaranteed is a Retina display screen, featuring resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, twice the resolution of the iPad 2.
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