A vague rumor surfaced on Friday from DigiTimes that the iPad 2 would have five new features. Four are predictable, but the fifth -- a USB port -- is out of left field.
- video phone
- better mobility
- new display technology
- 3-axis gyroscopes
- USB port
The first four are pretty predictable, let's break them down:
- video phone - This is presumed to be FaceTime and requires at least a forward facing camera.
- better mobility - This probably refers to the iPad 2s rumored thinner and lighter design (conceivably to better compete with ereaders). This could mean anything from LiquidMetal to a "Reinforced Device Housing" made of carbon fiber.
- new display technology - Retina Display from the iPhone 4. (Any guesses on the resolution)
- 3-axis gyroscopes - Another trickle over feature from the iPhone 4.
But what about that fifth item, "USB port." Freal?
If true, this would be big news.
All 125+ million iOS devices worldwide use Apple's proprietary dock connector for charging and syncing giving Apple complete control over data syncing and the accessory market. It's an important part of Apple's dominance of portable media -- if you want to load something on an iPhone/iPad/iPad, that's fine. As long as it uses Apple codes and you load it via iTunes and a dock cable.
MacRumors notes that this isn't the first time we've heard the iPad-with-a-USB-port rumor:
Back in September, Goldman Sachs analysts described the next iPad as a lighter/thinner and with a mini USB connector.
Apple makes a lot of profit selling NAND Flash memory, specifically in its upgraded 32 and 64GB devices. A USB port could conceivably allow you to attach a flash drive or cheap external hard drive and skip on the pricier 32 and 64GB models (which cost and extra $100 and $200 respectively from Apple) and get the 16GB iPad and a cheapo flash drive.
MacRumors also notes that the USB port rumor may stem from recent regulations passed in Europe requiring the adoption of a universal USB charging standard (read: MicroUSB) amongst mobile phone manufacturers.
What would you do with an iPad USB port?
Update: CNET Australia reports that in addition to the previous iPad 2 rumors, a second Chinese source tosses the 7-inch iPad rumor back into the fray:
A Chinese paper, the Economic Daily News, is reporting that production has started on 7-inch iPads due for release in Q1 2011. The paper also details some of the new features to expect in the iPad successor, including front and rear facing cameras, and a USB port for connecting external devices.