When Apple unveiled the iPad last year, competition was non-existent. It was almost as if other manufacturers were waiting for Jobs&Co to make the first move, just to see if there was a space in our homes for a small touch screen computer, running a mobile operating system. This time round it’s a completely different story.
2011 will see the debuts of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Motorola Xoom, both running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), and also the HP (Palm) TouchPad. Each of these devices has a large enough screen, and snazzy enough features to be considered genuine competitors to the iPad 2. So, what will the second gen Apple device need to leave these three tablets in its dust?
1) Camera(s) – All three of these devices has at least one camera. The Xoom has a decent 5 megapixel snapper, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has an astounding 8 megapixel camera. Why you need this number of pixels on a tablet camera, I have no idea. HP were a tad more sensible and offer just the one front-facing camera for video calling. So, for Apple to leave this unchanged would be a terrible mistake. Having said that, everyone and their dogs are expecting the iPad 2 to sport a similar camera combo to the iPod Touch. Apple is heavily promoting its FaceTime program on as many platforms as possible, this is a no-brainer. Likelihood – 5/5
2) Dual-core processor – Again, not much thought is needed to see the need for this addition. Even Android phones are being equipped with the latest Snapdragon dual-core chips. Tab 10.1, TouchPad, and Xoom will all have at least 1GHz of dual-core goodness inside, and iPad 2 will simply have to follow suit. We don’t expect Apple to announce its processing power exactly, but, it has to be a minimum of 1.2GHz to stay ahead of the game. Likelihood – 4/5
3) Retina/Higher Resolution display – We would all love to see Apple pull this one off. Despite the persistent “evidence” that this isn’t looking likely, it would be incredible. Unfortunately, processing power seemingly isn’t readily available at powerful enough levels to see that this dream is met, and so we’ll probably see a screen with the same resolution as the current version. Which, compared to the rest, is completely fine. Likelihood – 1/5
4) Slimmer/smaller form factor – Most of the dimensions are affected mostly by the size, and ratio of the screen, but if Apple could loose some thickness and some of the width, it would see the iPad 2 becoming the sleekest 10-inch(ish) tablet ever. Currently the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is 0.07 inches (1.8mm) thinner than the iPad released last April. Some mockups and accessory leaks seem to confirm that this should be the case, but, who knows, Apple could pull an iPhone 3G/3GS non-change on us. Likelihood – 3/5
5) Expandable memory – Only the Xoom has a SD card slot, with both others opting to limit storage to the onboard flash memory. If the iPad did have a card slot it would certainly give a few users less reason to grumble about purchasing the camera connecting kit. However, Apple has never been keen on adding this to its iPhone or iPod Touch range, and so I can’t imagine this ever changing. Whatever the rumors, I don’t see this happening. Likelihood – 0/5
1) Notifications – iOS notifications have been in need of an update for centuries it seems, but still, despite the grumblings of his people, Steve Jobs hasn’t yet changed it. Palm’s WebOS has, in my opinion, the most attractive, and least obtrusive message notifications out of any mobile operating system. Even Android’s slightly irritating drag-down bar is better than Apple’s, “hog your screen and interrupt everything you do” pop-ups. I really hope this changes this time around with iOS 5, but, I’m a skeptic and remain doubtful. Likelihood – 2.5/5
2) Widgets – Let’s face it, Android and WebOS both look miles more appealing than the iconic iOS grid-look. There’s one main reason why, and that’s widgets. The ability to place good looking widgets on to your home screen should almost be put in to every nations human rights list, but Cupertino doesn’t see it that way. On the plus side, it does ensure that the OS remains incredibly easy to use, despite the no-frills approach. Likelihood – 1/5
3) Browser – I was almost embarrassed to see how the BlackBerry Playbook’s browser blew Apple’s out of the water when it came to page loading speed. The iPad needs to have a focus on this, to make it a truly incredible mobile browsing experience. There’s been no real talk of this, rumor or otherwise, so I’m not sure on this one. Likelihood – 2/5
In terms of the end product, I can definitely see more changes to hardware than software. iOS has remained basically unchanged since launch on the original iPhone, but, there have been quite a few more improvements to hardware. So it seems that’s Apple’s way. I, and many of you I’m sure are hankering after an updated user experience, but we’re unlikely to get one.
For more detailed specifications check out PC World’s comparison chart below:
Chart Via: PC World