It’s a common bugbear for some tech journalist that in the lead up to an Apple product launch, other tech titles do almost nothing other than feed the Apple trolls. That being said I thought I’d allow myself one single Apple post just in case you’re not aware what’s happening tonight . (If that’s you – how is that rock you’ve been living under?)
Tonight will see Apple launch the third iteration of its iPad tablet computer. First announced in January 2010 the iPad is now Apple’s second largest generator of income, second only to the iPhone and ahead of the Mac. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple sold 40.5 million iPads in the calendar year 2011, driving revenue of nearly $25 billion. For a device that many analysts feared would flop, these figures are astounding.
As ever, the techosphere has been buzzing with guesses of what upgrades Apple will be including in the new machine, and trying to glean hints from the image in the invite that Apple sent round to those attending. The main new feature will undoubtedly be an upgrading high resolution display. The expectation is that it will offer double the resolution of the first two iPads, taking it from 1,024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536. This is much greater than almost all standard computer displays, which is remarkable for a 9.7in screen. This means that text, web sites and images will look even more crisp and clearer than ever before . The downside is that all iPad apps will have to be rewritten for the new high res display, or just run in double-up x2 mode, as standard iPhone apps can do when they run on the iPad. Unfortunately, this is a rather ugly mode, but a period of pain as Apps are gradually upgraded will be worth enduring to enjoy the quality on offer.
All this means that the name is up for debate? Will it be iPad 3, iPad HD, or even, as would be quite apt, iPad touch – mirroring the iPod touch that it already offers. I kind of like the symmetry.
To power the demands of the new display the new iPad will need a faster processor, and there’s debate as to whether this will be new quad-core A6, and updated dual-core A5X, or lots of fast pedalling tiny squirrels. We’re hoping for the latter.
The second rumoured change is the introduction of real ‘touch’ feedback. The clue is in the ‘And touch’ part of the invite. Apple chooses its words carefully, and likes to hint at its launch news in the invites. The rumour is that it will use a technology called ‘Senseg, that will bring real-feel textures to the iPad (as the Guardian explains here) – so an image of say a corrugated surface will feel rough, and a soft surface will feel soft. The tech sounds pretty sci-fi, but it would be very Apple to pull it off. Senseg was showing off its tech as Mobile World Congress but after announcing in January that it was working with ‘a Californian tablet maker’, it’s gone all shy and won’t confirm anything.
The third rumour is that the iPad will introduce an integrated LTE chipset for the first time in its connected version. If it does this it will be forced to move away from the single worlds chipset it currently offers on the iPhone 4S, as the 700MHz LTE on AT&T and Verizon are not compatible. What’s more, when LTE arrives in Europe it will have to support 800, 2.6GHz and probably 1800MHz too. What Apple need is once LTE chipset to rule them all.
What’s clear is that LTE is third fiddle on the rumour mill, possibly even behind the hope that Apple might offer the fondleslab in colours other than black and white. For the UK and LTE in the iPad is naturally something of an irrelevance, (unless you live in Southwark), but for those in the rest of the world outside of the US that does have LTE it could be frustrating not to have access to a feature that those in the US do. That said, this is what mifi devices were made for – and you get to buy the cheaper wifi only iPad at the same time. Job done.