Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What to expect from Apple's iPad announcement

Apple is just a few hours away from announcing the release of its new iPad which many people agree will be called the iPadHD and not the iPad3. The reason for this, of course, is to emphasize the (near) retina display which will double the number of pixels compared to the iPad 2 (2048x1536).

Here are a few other things to expect from the announcement as well. Many of these predictions have been reported on other blogs and Podcasts such as Twit but some are my own

Same cost
  • The cost of the new model will be the same as the iPad 2 ($499 USD for base model). It is expected that the cost of the iPad 2 will be lowered to compete with devices like the Kindle Fire (perhaps $299-$399USD) and a smaller 7 inch version is in the works as well for a later release date (probably in the fall when the iPhone 5 is released). 
  • LTE (4G) will be available on at least some models but will not likely be standard. This is likely due to the infrastructure needed not yet being ready in many parts of the world (and US). 
Same size
  • The size will be the same but the new model will be slightly thicker due to a larger battery. 
Same battery life
  • The battery life will be at least the same as now (10 hours).
Faster processor and more RAM
  • It will have at least a dual core processor and possibly even a quad core one (though less likely) as well as more RAM (probably 1GB).
Better Cameras
  • It will have a higher resolution camera much like the iPhone 4S (8 mega pixels). I suspect that this will be the case for the rear camera and the front camera will have far less (4 mega pixels or less). 
  • Siri will likely be included or rolled out over time to prevent strain on the servers. 
Similar storage capacity options
  • It will still have 3 options for storage capacity. Many people are predicting that the storage will remain the same but I think the base model will start at 32GB and the top model will be 128GB. This is due to the large size of new HD apps and eBooks. However, Apple does want us all paying more to upgrade our iCloud storage. 
Available Friday
  • It will be available in the US market by this weekend. Apple has a habit of releasing new products on a Friday so my guess is that it will go on sale Friday evening. 
New Apple App
  • The app store will include a new app called catalogs which will be similar to News Stand (and probably just as unsuccessful). 
Home button
  • It will still have a home button. Despite many rumours that the Home button will disappear, many agree that it won't. 
Upgraded Apple TV and maybe more
  • A new Apple TV (box and not actual TV) will be released to go on sale at $99 USD with a higher resolution. There may also be a new dongle which will go on sale ($39?) which will connect to the TV much like the new Boxee cable does. There are rumours of a new iTV being announced but my guess is that this will be more about new media services (and interface) rather than an actual TV. 
New dock connector
  • The dock connector may be changed to be more compact but there is no clear consensus on this prediction. 
Microsoft Office for iPad will be announced
  • Microsoft will announce Office for the iPad (either together at the event or shortly after). This may be strange if it occurs but certainly possible I think. 
Tactile Display
  • Cult of Mac and other popular blogs are reporting a rumour that Apple may introduce an iPad with textured display where you will be able to feel more than just the glass surface. When you look Apple's promise for the event, it would make sense. You will be able to see more with a retina display and touch more with a new tactile display. 

Here are a few announcements which I don't expect to see at the event but would like to see happen to help make the iPad a better tool for education: 

Multiple user accounts
  • This would  make it easier to share across classes (instead of being expected to buy one for every student). 
iBooks Author app for the iPad 
  •  It is annoying that I need to have a MacBook with Lion installed in order to create interactive eBooks which are designed to work on the iPad. It would be much easier if iBooks Author was available on the iPad itself. 
Worldwide educational discounts on purchasing multiple apps 
  • It is ridiculous to expect schools to buy an app for every device if Apple wants each school to purchase hundreds of them. Volume purchasing discounts are currently available in the US only and are still quite expensive for most schools. If an app costs $0.99, I see no reason why a school couldn't a license to put in all devices in the school for $9.99 or less. At present, it would cost a school thousands of dollars to purchase the basic Apple apps that come pre-installed on a Mac (iWork, iLife). 
  • Every school that has implemented an iPad program (other than 1:1 models) has experienced major headaches with sharing content from the iPads. There are a few 3rd party apps that work well but there is no single solution for all content. iCloud is great for the personal user to sync across devices but not much use in a school environment where you need cloud storage and not cloud syncing. 
We will of course find out in a few hours what will Apple will announce but it is still fun to make predictions and see how many are correct.