Fair enough, the idea actually refers to the 15th, not the 7th, but those of you who read my previous entry will know that I made a prediction, based on evidence I’ve gathered from the Apple rumour mill, that we could expect to see the new iPad for the first time on the 7th of March.

I was right.

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From that alone, it’s obvious what this is about, although unlike last years ‘Let’s talk iPhone’ Keynote there has been no official announcement regarding the content it. There is no mistaking, however that this is to be a Keynote, if the iPhone 4S event last year is anything to go by. And here’s why…

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That is a sample from the invite Cupertino sent out prior to the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, on October 4th last year. From that alone, we knew the event was going to centre around the iPhone. However, take a look at the four graphics included on it.

Firstly, they are all icons we are familiar with, as they come straight from the home screen of a lesser iPhone device. But they all point to something. The first is the calendar icon, which gives the date of the event. The second gives the (U.S. Pacific) time of the event. The third is the Maps app icon, which coincidentally shows 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA. Aka Apple Headquarters. The final icon is obvious, the phone app from the iPhone also. Looking back I think that the badge containing a ‘1’ indicated that we were only going to see one device; the rumour mill was showing signs of potentially seeing an iPhone 5 and a 4S, which was potentially being marketed at budget and pre-paid consumers.

So, bearing that in mind, let’s look again at the invitation for next Wednesday. Going along the same lines as the iPhone 4S event last year, we can see that there is to be an event, in Cupertino, on March 7th. If that’s the case, it’s a presentation. But look closer.

The icons are being displayed on a device this time, not a white background. The first thing we can see is the clarity of the display. Ergo, it is almost a certainty that the third iteration of this market defining device is to finally be given a retina display! The most worthy addition of any of the new features this tablet is going to have.

To go along with this, it is expected that the iPad 3 may have dimensions that go against the grain of the usual Apple product progression. I.e. To facilitate the addition of the retina display, it looks as if the iPad 3 is going to be slightly thicker than its predecessor. From what has been seen anyway, and of course we won’t know for definite until the dust sheets are taken off next week, it looks as if the iPad 3 will be 0.81mm thicker than the iPad 2. For what exactly, still remains a mystery. The retina display requires more power than previous models, hence the reason (or one of them anyway) that the iPad 2 never had one. To maintain the 10 hour battery life benchmark set by the original model, and provide dual-core processing power, the retina display was skipped for the second iteration. To my mind, it cannot be missed out for a third time, and if I’m honest the iPad 2 was about as thin as I’d like a device like this to go. Any more so, and it will retain the structural rigidity of a communion wafer…

Of course, a new product launch wouldn’t be complete without an upgrade of the innards of the device. Rumours have been circulating regarding both the processing power and mobile networking components that the iPad 3 will include, leaked through developer preview access of the upcoming iOS 5.1 release, which will no doubt accompany the iPad 3.

Firstly, it would appear the number of cores the device is “packin'” is set to double. Again. Evidence of this was seen in the source code for the new OS version, and images have been leaked of an apparent Apple ‘A5X’ chip; the ‘A’ chips being the processors which have been used to power iOS devices since the release of the original iPad in 2010.

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Usually, the iPad has been used to unveil the new chip, as it is always released before the iPhone; the iPhone being a vehicle for the new iOS version and usually most of the ‘revolutionary’ technology we’ll see in the subsequent products that follow. The iPhone is and always will be, Apples flagship product now, as much as it pains me that this is no longer the Mac. That being the case, there will be nothing in Apple’s product portfolio that will better it. If you’ll remember, the 1GHz A4 was first seen in the original iPad 2 years ago, the only differentiation between the iPad and the iPhone 4 being the amount of RAM it’s equipped with. (The iPad has 256MB vs the iPhone 4’s 512MB, something iPad users are made increasingly aware of as the iOS version running on their slates is upgraded.)

Nothing has been said about this, but I would imagine that this is the brain of what we’re going to see next week. If we see the A6 this year, it will be in October with the iPhone 5. A lot of people were disappointed with the release of the iPhone 4S, and Apple will need to step up it’s game and make the iPhone 5 a real crowd pleaser if it is regain its foot hold as the drive behind the smartphone market. Be that as it may, sales of the iPhone 4S have not been impeded as a result.

I could be completely wrong with that. We may see the A5X in the iPhone 5, to keep in line with the device and processor numbering convention. The A6 may be the first ARM developed chip we see being used to power a Mac, as there have been whispers of Apples intentions to drop Intel and return to manufacturing their own chips.

iOS 5.1 will undoubtedly be unveiled with the new iPad, bringing with it a whole host of new features. Again, we wont see iOS 6 until the new iPhone, although I think we’ll be given a sneak preview of it when Mountain Lion is released this summer; most likely at the WWDC developers conference, held in San Franciso every year.There is also a possibility that we will finally find Apple adopting LTE this year, for the 3G model of the iPad and the iPhone 5. LTE is the new 3G, (commonly referred to as 4G, although the current LTE systems in place do not meet the standards defined for 4G mobile networking, as outlined by the ITU-R) and stands for Long Term Evolution. Apple has always refused to adopt the standard for previous iterations of the handset, preferring to wait on the sidelines for the emergence of a common standard and then adopting it. The attitude to the introduction of previous cellular standards in the US has always taken a ‘hands off’ approach, allowing multiple standards to develop and letting the consumers decide with the brainwashing assistance of service providers marketing campaigns to form their decisions. By leaving the standards to form before adoption, Apple ensure that their devices will always remain popular, rather than taking a gamble and ending up with a failed generation. Something it cannot afford to happen, if it wants to retain market share.

There are other so-called wild card rumours out there also, such as the introduction of a smaller iPad aimed at students. Apple has always denied this, and a prototype of such a device has never been seen. Then again, they said they would never develop a CDMA iPhone, before unveiling the Verizon (CDMA network compliant) iPhone 4 a year ago! I imagine the 8MP camera found in the iPhone 4S will also have worked its way into the iPad 3, providing it with 1080p video recording. This would go along with the potential release of an Apple TV 3, which is guaranteed to offer up 1080p resolution video capabilities. Undoubtedly, the airplay mirroring feature of the iPad 3 will require an Apple TV 3 in order to stream the retina display resolution to an HDTV. It may also be worth considering the potential for Apple to unveil the iPad 3 with new storage capacities and perhaps even further price reductions on the iPad 2, although I think that’s unlikely. The iPhone 4S saw a 64GB model iPhone for the first time, and with the inclusion of a 1080p camera on the rear, and potentially a 720p front-mounted FaceTime camera (the same as what can currently be found in current MacBook Pro and Air models) we will require more storage for the video footage and wacky PhotoBooth picture’s we’ll be taking with the device. Bearing in mind the flash chips used within the iPad are mounted on the logic unit in the same was as the MacBook Air, we could see a 128GB model being made available following this launch. This is pure speculation on my behalf, as nothing has been announced regarding this previously. However, the inclusion of a 64GB spec. iPhone was never rumoured and only realised on the launch day, so only time will tell.

Finally, it would also appear that Apple are intending on releasing the device fairly soon after it’s unveiling. That being the case, we may see it as soon as the 9th of March, or perhaps the following week, meaning the Ides is a rather fitting title for this entry. Again…the only person who knows is going to be standing before us next Wednesday (all be it, for me, through the medium of the Engadget Live blog, which I will be glued to all night next Wednesday.)

Can’t wait for it folks. I’m probably not going to invest in one, because I’m skint and my original vintage iPad still works. Just. Still, it gives me something to watch when I get home from uni!

Lewis
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