Apple has come out and announced that they are going to show off the new iPad next week on March 7 in San Francisco. So now the world gets to sit and speculate over the latest leaks from China, the supposed shipping schedules of products to stores around the country. Will it come out on March 7th or will it come out a few weeks after the event? Here's what I think the real important things to look at are for the iPad event.
The iPad predicts what will happen with the iPhone. Want to know what processor the iPhone is going to have, look in the iPad. Want to know where Apple is going with iOS? Look at the tweaks they make for the iPad. Yes, the major reveal will come with the iPhone 4SS, 5, 4G, LTE or whatever they end up calling it. But if you look at the history of the iPad and the iPhone launches that have followed, you can see the iPad points to the future of Apple's mobile strategy. Which makes sense. The iPad for all intensive purposes is the cheapest computer you can buy from Apple. The iPad is fueling Mountain Lion and the iPad is going to push the iPhone in the ways it can connect and interact with the phone and the desktop of the Mac ecosystem.
Here are my predictions for the iPad 3. I see a retina display, improved cameras, especially front facing to help with video chatting, 4G LTE connectivity on AT&T and Verizon, (The Verizon model will probably become the Sprint LTE version when they get their LTE network off the ground.) I expect Apple to push the silicon faster with either an enhanced A5 or a new A6 processor and I expect Apple to bump up the RAM that's included with the iPad 3.
The thing is though, beyond the display, all the other technology is secondary in my opinion, with the possible exception of the 4G connectivity. Here's why. Apple is working very hard to make tech specs a thing of the past. Why should I care how fast the processor is? Why should I care how much RAM is inside a device? What's important is the software on the device makes the best use of the hardware it has, so it feels fast. You can tell me there are dual quad core processors in the next iPad, and I bet if I picked up one and used it, I might agree with how fast and responsive it will be. That's the point. That's what Apple wants. For all you know Apple still has plenty of great A5 processors sitting on the shelf, so they are going to tweak them a little, perhaps get the clocked up to 1.2GHz and then let the iPad 3 fly. As long as the user experience doesn't suffer, why not?
The hardware of any device is only the conduit by which we interact with the software. Do I care if the keyboard on my computer was tested in a wind tunnel? No, I care that it feels comfortable and lets me do the work I need without getting in my way. In fact, I'm using the default keyboard that came with my Lenovo ThinkCentre, because I find it to have great tactile feel and does a wonderful job. When it comes to mobile operating systems, Apple and Microsoft seem to be the only ones who understand that software makes the experience. Google I think understands this, but because of the nature by which they let anyone use Android in any way, all the other manufacturers mess up the final product focusing on thin, light, megapixles and other buzz words, forgetting that people want something that's easy to use, with great battery life.
Does the new hardware have you excited? Or the future of App development that will be enabled by that hardware have you excited? I'm looking forward to the latter, because 2 minutes after I open the box, I want to play with the software, I won't care about the hardware anymore, unless it's getting in the way of my software time.