As a detached observer last year I was snickering and underwhelmed at the “transition” from iPad to iPad 2. Adding a camera and some other invisible stuff that should’ve been there to begin with did not impress me. I’ve seen too many companies (Nintendo comes to mind with their handheld systems) rush to create a market and soak consumers for the whole experiment. All this said, the mysteries of an iPad 3 are just too tasty to ignore because I think this may be the leap in tablets that will knock our socks off.
I’m not an iPad guy. In fact, with my four-year-old iPod, I’m as un-Apple as I can be and still be a connected-citizen. However, I’m still fascinated by the cultural weight behind iPhones, iPads and that whole hardware and software ecosystem Steve Jobs built. And so now this Android guy (my last three phones and a modded tablet) is wondering how excited other Playground Dads are about a potential iPad 3. Here’s a look at the various iPad 3 rumors floating about right now and my judgment on where those rumors land on my Excite-o-meter. That is, how awesome would it be if that particular rumor is true.
Speed is always going to be the focus with a new iteration of any modern device until we get gizmos that can read our thoughts and react just as quickly. There’s supposed to be an A6 or A5x chip with quad-core processing in the next iPad and is supposed to be even faster than what you’re used to from that ridiculous, clunky iPad you currently have. Most folks measure “speed” on tablets and phones by how quickly an app loads up when you first go to use it and so faster processing should be a given with any new iPad. That’s why they’re making the thing.
Any boost is going to be incremental and doesn’t fundamentally change what an iPad 3 can do or how you’ll use it. More speed is the price of admission and should not be the biggest plus.
This one is tricky because there’s an idea that a new iPad might be a smaller, more budget-friendly unit with a less than 10-inch screen. An iPad with a seven or eight-inch screen is a far bigger deal than a standard sized iPad with a fancier display because it’s Apple entering a new sub-market that’s already full of competitors. A retina display that once again puts iPad as the sharpest of the sharp makes for a nice bullet point but I’m not sure if it will change how we use the tablet. The only people who “properly” use iPad’s are the folks in commercials who keep their tablets clean and only check Facebook in the shade. The rest of us are wiping greasy crumbs off the screen all the time and pretending there isn’t a nasty crack in the corner. A smaller form iPad, however, with a smaller screen, even if it does have higher pixel density, would be seen and perhaps used as a giganto-iPod touch rather than a shrunken iPad.
Excite-o-meter: Slightly tingly
A sharp new scren is definitely a plus, but a smaller unit would be a shock to the market and a bigger deal.
Being able to iPad your way through your daily life on a faster data network would be the realization of a promise that was made years ago. There’s been quite a bit of blabbing about the next iPad’s ability to leverage new, faster data networks and that rumor seems like one that’s been willed into existence by excited observers. If we’re able to reliably video chat from anywhere using a new iPad, you’ll be able to cross “All Conversations Are Face to Face” off the sci-fi/Jetsons Things To Do list. An iPad with a faster processor on a sturdy network would deliver on the full promise of video chat to say nothing of what it would mean for all of us who like to stream hours and hours of video content. Carriers like Verizon and AT&T built those high speed networks because they knew the old ones couldn’t handle all of the consumption we were going to demand. An iPad 3 is just the second half of that upgrade.
Excite-o-meter: Thunderous applause
This, times ten. You don’t want to be watching all of those Youtube cips on your tiny little mobile phone anyway. An iPad 3 on a high speed data network will finally and completely take away your last remaining idle moments.
So as we continue to wait and daydream about the future of iPad in 2012, let’s make sure we understand what we’re looking for. There’s going to be a lot about such a unit that’s just more of the same. However if we’re seeing a tablet that’s enhanced and reworked on the inside and out to take full advantage of new data networks in North America, then we’re talking about something worth waiting for. An attempt that falls short of that wouldn’t be an insult or waste of money necessarily, but it does feel like this third time around for iPad needs to leap, not tip-toe, forward.