It hardly seems like it, but it's been nearly a year since the announcement of the iPad. Soon, we'll no longer be able to call the device that's selling today by the simple name "iPad" -- instead, it will become "the original iPad," "iPad 1," "iPad 1G" or "first-generation iPad." If history (and leaks from Foxconn) are anything to go by, we may see an announcement of the iPad 2 in a little over a month, with devices hitting store shelves a couple months after that.
Undoubtedly we'll be hearing a lot about the forthcoming iPad 2 over the coming weeks (we've heard several iPad 2 rumors already). Maybe you have an iPad already and are looking to upgrade, or maybe, like me, you didn't find the current iPad compelling enough to purchase until the second generation. In either case, it's worth asking the question: what would convince you, savvy TUAW reader, to buy an iPad 2?
Personally, I've got a laundry list of features I'd like to see in the next iPad, but even if only one or two of them make it into the iPad 2, I'll be getting one. I originally thought there wasn't a wide enough gap between the iPhone and my MacBook Pro to justify an iPad, but with the advent of multitasking in iOS 4.0 and the iPhone 4's vastly improved CPU and Retina Display, I've not only found my iPhone taking over a lot of the functions I used to use my Mac for, I've also found myself thinking, "Gee, if only this thing's screen were bigger ... if only Apple made something that was basically just a big iPod touch." (That sound you just heard was a hundred iPad-hating pundits crashing to the floor simultaneously, crippled by cognitive dissonance.)
I've got my own thoughts on what I'd like to see in the next-gen iPad, which you can see by clicking "Read More." We also have a poll where we've asked you what you want to see most in the iPad 2.
My list of features I'd like to see in the iPad 2 is below, in rough order of how crucial they are to my purchase decision.
2. At least 512MB of RAM. It seems exceedingly odd that the original iPad shipped with only 256MB of RAM while the iPhone 4 shipped with double that amount only a few months later. With multitasking now available on the iPad in iOS 4.2, it's crucial that Apple cram as much RAM as possible into the iPad in order to preserve the user experience.
3. 128GB flash memory on the high-end iPad. 64GB doesn't quite cut it for my needs, especially at Apple's asking price. With the difference in price between the 64GB and 128GB 11" MacBook Air being a mere US$200, and with iFixit's iPad teardown showing plenty of room inside the iPad for additional memory, the only reason I can see for Apple keeping the iPad 2's topmost capacity fixed at 64GB is a desire to retain its high margins on the iPad. One way around that: make a 128GB capacity exclusive to the 3G version of the iPad. The iPad's 3G chipset/antenna doesn't cost anywhere close to the $130 price difference Apple charges between the Wi-Fi and 3G iPads -- in fact, the added component cost for iPad 3G is only $27 according to iSuppli.
4. Display resolution increase. Retina Display quality isn't possible now (expect to see a 326 ppi, 2560 x 1920 pixel display on the iPad 5 in 2014), but 1600 x 1200 would be pretty killer. Even 1280 x 960 would be a very respectable resolution bump over the iPad's current 1024 x 768 resolution. Coincidentally, 1280 x 960 would put the iPad's horizontal resolution in portrait mode at the same 960-pixel value as the iPhone 4 Retina Display's horizontal resolution in landscape mode, which could go a long way toward simplifying creation of universal apps.
5. FaceTime camera. This one is a gimme; we've already heard multiple rumors of a front-facing camera on the iPad 2. With all varieties of MacBooks, the iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch all offering built-in FaceTime cameras, the iPad is now Apple's only high-end portable product that doesn't have FaceTime capability. Unless Apple comes up with some other awesome feature beforehand, it's likely that it'll market FaceTime capability as the iPad 2's main point of differentiation from its predecessor.
6. Rear-facing camera. Although this seems a less likely and possibly awkward feature, we've seen both leaked iPad cases and insider sources claiming iPad 2 will have a rear-facing camera. There's plenty of room in the case for a rear-facing camera, so the primary concern here is usability and/or fashion sense -- is Apple willing to have millions of its users walking around looking like goofballs with their big ol' iPads held out in the photographer's stance?
In the poll below, you can let us know what's most important to you in the iPad 2. If there's anything else you'd like (or need) to see in the iPad 2 in order to justify a purchase, let us know in the comments.
|A faster CPU! 1 GHz doesn't blow my hair back the way it used to.||400 (8.0%)|
|More RAM! 256 MB is so confining now that I can multitask.||1080 (21.6%)|
|More storage! My Mac doesn't gather enough dust as it is.||326 (6.5%)|
|A higher res display! The Retina Display makes the iPad look like yesterday's news.||1575 (31.5%)|
|A FaceTime camera! Grandma's always wanted to count my nose hairs.||885 (17.7%)|
|A rear-facing camera! The best camera is the one you have with you, even if it's ENORMOUS.||95 (1.9%)|
|Support for Flash Player! Because I enjoy beating dead horses.||396 (7.9%)|
|Something else entirely! I'll tell you what it is in the comments.||242 (4.8%)|