What iPad 2 will need to fend off TouchPad, Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1

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?

Hardware:

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

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Software:

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

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Overall:

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




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  • August Griggs

    i agree with most of what you said.
    however, i dont see widgets as essential at all. apple has proven time and time again that people are not growing tired of the way their os looks or functions. why drastically change something that is still selling so well, or in other words: why fix something that is not broken. also widgets are a battery drain. constantly pulling in data would surely put a strain on the battery life, something that every reviewer points to as a high point in the ipad. why change that? and finally, why copy android? widgets are “androids things.” apple likes people to know theyre using an apple product, and the users usually want others to know they are using an apple product. adding widgets gets rid of one of the main differences between the os’.
    as for notifications, im starting to think im the only one, but i really have no problem with push messaging. whats so hard about pressing close? if its in the middle of a game, if the developer is smart (or it might actually be an os level thing) the game will pause. if its in the middle of a video, the video will pause. this one is sort of understandable, and there are many people who agree with you, but i personally dont get it. maybe its cuz im actually not too sure how the android notifications work. i havent spent a lot of time with android and no videos ever high light the notifications.
    i also dont see a need for expandable memory. as presented in the chart, the ipad is currently the only tablet that offers 64 gb of storage, and the rest cut off at 32. now, the difference in pricing of the 32 and 64 gb models is 100 dollars, and a 32 gb memory card, depending on the brand and quality and what not, will run you around $100 anyway, or maybe you could get one on sale for less. but i would gladly pay a little more or the same amount for the better speeds flash memory provides.
    this is just me, and im feeling particularly rantish today. but good job on the article regardless of my opinion.

  • Cam Bunton

    I agree with you on the expandable memory, I’m not one of the “users who grumble” but there are plenty of them about who would love a SD card slot.

    We all have different opinions on what needs changing, and yours is a very valid one. iOS is clearly working for millions of people, and to be honest I don’t think widgets are the biggest deal when it comes to OS UI, but notifications need to change.

    Thanks for the input, it’s much appreciated, I enjoyed reading your reaction.

  • Robert Matthews

    Cam, your article pretty much provides a case for what the iPad needs to be at par with the competition. Not so much how it will leave the competition in the dust.

    My take is this: Going forward we will see competing products with similar hardware specs. It’s easy enough for a manufacturer to throw together hardware components. The differentiation will be in the user experience. Android’s UI is much more dynamic than iOS and I believe this will be a huge selling point. I don’t know enough about webOS, but I have the impression it is similar to Android’s. Some of the dynamic ability is due to widgets, but I think the battery drain argument is more perception than reality. I say this because data can be polled at user specified intervals (15, 30, 60 mins, etc) and the effort is actually minimal. iOS’ UI is much more static and I believe people will find it less appealing next to the competition. I better throw in the lack of meaningful multitasking too. With that being said, I predict Apple will be making future changes. Likelihood, 5/5.

    Apple has done a fantastic job at providing consumer products that even my mom can use. (Well, maybe not my mom, but that’s just her!) In the past they’ve had little to no competition in a few of their markets but they do now. They’re going to be playing a little catch up this year, as difficult as that may be for some of your readers to believe, but I have great faith in Apple’s innovative abilities. And that only makes for a better market for consumers.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it. Enjoyed the article!

  • bleedandroidgreen

    Great read. It puts a lot of points into perpective. I do love android, as you can tell by my name. But I love technology more! The only way for all these companies to get better is by competiton. And that’s what we have here. I’ve spent time with apple products and ill admit their simple to use. This may be great for alot of people, but I love the customization of android. It would be nice if apple did refresh the overall look of its tablet os. No need for widgets, but something besides the basic static look of apps. This is something simple that they can do that would go a long way with their customers. They can do this without making it overly complicated. Besides that I think they’ll be fine for their target consumers. The fact remains though that all companies find themselves in these situations where they have to play catch up. They define themselves by overcoming these. Sure the ipad 2 will be great, but android will follow up with something better. And then the cycle begins again. Greatness produces greatness. Course I still will be picking up my xoom asap, so no sweat off my back regarding the new ipad. Let the war begin!

  • http://applerepairneworleans.com Apple Repair Store New Orleans

    In the beginning, there was iPad…
    A year later, Motorola copied them.
    Motorola also copied Apple’s infamous “1984″ commercial.
    3 weeks later, iPad 2 is released and Xoom is forgotten.