iPad Next: what’s Tim Cook got in store? (Update: a new AppleTV, too?)

I’m a die-hard Apple fan. I’ve owned every iPhone with the exception of the original (we never had it in Canada), an iPad, two MacBooks, Magic Mouse, iPods galore, and so on. Since we’re about a day away from the new iPad announcement, I’d like to weigh in on what I think we’ll be hearing about from Apple.

1) iOS 6. This hasn’t been talked about nearly as much as I would have expected leading up to the iPad event on Wednesday. There are a couple of reasons I think we’ll be seeing iOS 6 this week. First off is that, while I don’t think it will necessarily launch alongside the iPad, I think that Apple will want to give us a sneak preview of their latest mobile offering, since it’s been nearly a year since we first spied iOS 5.0. Another reason is, of course, the data from Ars Technica showing unlisted iPad devices running iOS 6.

2) A5X Processor. I don’t think we’ll see a massive jump in processor power that we saw from the iPad to the iPad 2. First off, even with the double-resolution display the new iPad is certain to have (no, I won’t call it a Retina display, because it’s not), the A5 chip already provides 9x the graphical prowess of the A4 chip before it. So, take into account that the new display will have four times the number of pixels, and the next iPad can run with a stock A5 and still run circles around the original iPad. With that said, I think the performance will be improved and power requirements lowered for the battery’s sake, but Apple won’t dub the chip the A6 because it’s not a big enough leap to do so. Oh, and the Verge has seen one in the flesh.

The A5X chip I expect to see powering Apple's next iPad.

3) Same Battery Life. This is not an easy feat of engineering by any stretch. Ten hours of battery life on a tablet is still industry-leading, and Apple has actually been known to under-state their values rather than the traditional inflating by most other tech companies. Given that the new iPad will have four times the pixels to push, not to mention the fact that the processor will be doing more work, the battery will be larger, but only to bring it up to par with the ten hours that the original and iPad 2 claim. Still not too shabby at all. I just wish the dang thing would charge faster.

4) Obvious Stuff: double-resolution display, Siri, and better camera. You’ve heard these ones everywhere, and I think they’ll happen as well. I’m not sure if the camera will be as high resolution as the one in the iPhone 4S, but I have a feeling that it will be. It just doesn’t make sense that Apple would flaunt their latest camera technology so much and then not include it on their latest device. Especially when that device costs significantly more than the iPhone 4S (not including carrier subsidies).

5) No 4G or LTE chip. I also don’t think that 4G or LTE support is going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely love for it to happen, but somehow, this just doesn’t seem “Apple” enough for me. 4G and LTE technologies are very new, and they’re already trying to squeeze a ton of battery life out of a device without 4G, so I’m not sure it’ll happen. Also, there aren’t tons of people jumping on the LTE bandwagon. If they are, they can buy a WiFi iPad, a personal 4G or LTE hotspot, and have just the same speeds anyways. Those are the types of people buying LTE services, so Apple can certainly afford to wait another year before taking the 4G plunge.

6) The name: iPad HD. Everyone is banking on iPad 3, and I was, too. But not anymore. I can’t see iPad 3 being the moniker we’ll see on Wednesday on Apple’s homepage. Somehow, I don’t see iPad HD either, but I think it’s more likely. I do think that calling it the iPad HD might pigeonhole Apple somehow and make it difficult to overcome any future iPad that doesn’t have the HD moniker. It also sounds like a suffix indicating that two models were available. Perhaps there will be that fable 7″ or 8″ iPad after all, but I doubt that will happen for a little while longer, at least. The name would never affect my purchase decision, so I don’t care either way, but it’s interesting to note. Just don’t get me started on “iPad 2S”. Won’t happen.

So there you have it. My predictions on the next iPad. To be honest, the only real reason I didn’t buy an iPad 2 was the screen resolution. Now that the issue there has been completely solved, I’m going to be one of the first in line to buy a new iPad, whatever its suffix.

I’d like to say that this is the first event since Steve Jobs’s passing last October. Given that Apple has hosted their “Celebrating Steve” event, it’ll be interesting to see if CEO Tim Cook brings it up as the first post-Jobs event at the company or if he glides right over it.


Update, March 6: Are we going to be getting a new AppleTV alongside the new iPad on Wednesday? Rumours suggest that we will be seeing an AppleTV capable of outputting 1080p, but there are more implications in a new AppleTV than just a new AppleTV. First off, it doesn’t seem “Apple” enough to only have a marginal spec bump in their AppleTV to a 1080p resolution. If they do make that bump, it won’t be a major reveal at the event. It might get a cursory mention, but it wouldn’t be more than a minute long introduction. Second, if Apple does indeed release a new version of their little black streamer, it means that their long-fabled and oft-rumoured television set is probably farther off than we are expecting. Without a new little black box tomorrow, I predict seeing the television in 2012, but with it, we’re thinking more like 2013 or even 2014.

The other issue to be aware of is that tomorrow may be the day that Apple decides to release their new television set. Current AppleTV models have been dwindling in supply at local retail, and it goes along with the iPad invitation stating “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” What if the something we really have to see is in fact a different product from the thing we really have to touch? Sure, it’s more likely a nod to the higher resolution display in the new iPad, but it could just be a red herring as to what is really coming on Wednesday.

Whatever it is, you’ll be sure to have our full breakdown of what we think about the event as well as a full hardware review when the new iPad (and whatever other hardware or software is announced) is launched.