The next iPad is expected to appear next month, and while we don't know for sure what Apple will call it, iPad 3 will have to do for now. Typical for Apple we won't know anything certain about the next tablet until it launches but speculation is always fun so here goes.
Most likely the iPad 3 will be a little thinner than the existing iPad to catch it up to the Android tablets that are now thinner. That means the iPad 3 will be a little lighter than the second generation model.
I hope the next iPad will have a better camera than the iPad 2. The iPhone 4S has a great camera and optics and I expect Apple to at least bring this over to the iPad 3. It wouldn't hurt if it is improved over the iPhone's camera.
We can expect a bump in the processor for the next iPad. While it may not be quad-core it will be the latest processor Apple makes with good speed and graphics capability. The latter will be needed for the higher resolution screen that we're likely to see on the iPad 3.
Some folks are clamoring for Apple to give up the proprietary charging connector in favor of the standard microUSB. Ordinarily I would agree with that but I expect Apple will keep the special charging port it uses now. There is an entire ecosystem of accessories that use that awful connector so to abandon it would hit a lot of companies hard and render a lot of good accessories useless. Reluctantly, I hope they keep it around for the next generation of iPad.
Voice control: the next big thing
You may think my prediction has been pretty safe so far, so I'll go out on a limb with this one. I think we will see the microphone improved over the last model. An array microphone for advanced background noise elimination is needed to make the iPad 3 good for voice control and dictation. Apple always approaches things like this with overkill, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a triple array microphone employed for better noise elimination than that provided by typical dual array systems.
I think this special microphone system will be augmented with advanced software control that lets the user tailor the performance based on local acoustics. Properly tuned, this system will allow voice entry on the iPad 3 to be totally unaffected by whatever may be going on in the background. This system will accurately pull the speaker's voice out of the mish-mash of noise even in noisy environments.
This will play a big role in the upgrade as I expect Apple to bring Siri to the iPad 3, along with the superior dictation that comes along with it. Siri is currently only available on the iPhone 4S due to hardware requirements, and those will easily be met with the hardware refresh on the iPad 3. The new Siri will be advanced over the first generation product released on the iPhone, and Apple will surprise us all with the new and improved Siri on the iPad 3. The personal assistant functions of Siri will be there, but the advanced dictation system will be the big story. Apple will be the first company to bring serious voice control and dictation to the mainstream with the new iPad and Siri.
Voice control has long been a pipe dream for computer makers, but none have been able to bring it to market in a form the mainstream will accept. I believe this has been Apple's intention behind Siri from the beginning, and it will start to gel with the next iPad. Imagine a voice system that actually works, where it is easier (and more natural) to enter simple commands by voice. The Siri voice technology will be integrated in every aspect of iPad operation, and it will finally make the old Star Trek voice control possible on today's device.
To recap, I think the next iPad 3 will have the mandatory processor, display, and camera improvements that make it faster and more powerful than the iPad 2. The biggest change will be the addition of Siri and a better microphone system to take advantage of the Siri dictation as only Apple can do it.
No doubt there will be iOS improvements but those are anybody's guess what those might be. My suspicion is there will be some changes to the OS to facilitate the new textbook program just recently kicked off. Apple is going to make a serious run at getting the textbook program off the ground and since it usually slips a surprise in product announcements I think there will be something in the iPad 3 event to do with textbooks.
What do you want to see in the next iPad? What hardware and software additions are you waiting for?
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