There are two new rumors on the iPad 3 pile this morning: one concerning the device’s features, one concerning the release date. We’ll start with the device features.
Battery life has long been the bane of the gadget industry. Though the iPad has been largely immune to compaints that have dogged the iPhone, everybody wants their device to have more power (insert Tim Allen grunt here, for all you children of the ‘90s). Well, it seems that the next generation iPad will be getting a hefty power-up. DigiTimes is reporting that the iPad 3’s battery capacity will be more than double that of the iPad 2. Though part of that extra power will no doubt go toward accommodating a retina display and some other bells and whistles - including Siri? - that is still a major jump in battery power. We can only hope they figure out how to cram a similar battery into the iPhone’s smaller case.
Now, on to the release date. Earlier this month we ran a story about the possibility that Apple would release its next generation iPad in February. Then, just a few days later, we reported on a rumor that Apple’s supply chain was gearing up for an early second quarter iPad launch. Then, just a few days later there were reports that Apple was working on a second, smaller version of their device - the long-rumored iPad Mini - which they were preparing for a late second quarter 2012 launch. Today, DigiTimes is reporting that Apple is indeed working on two versions of the iPad 3, but that both will feature the current standard 9.7-inch screen (i.e., no iPad Mini). These two models, along with the continued availability of the iPad 2, will allow Apple to appeal more directly to a wider variety of potential consumers. What exactly the differences between the two are supposed to be remains unclear. The report also says that Apple will be announcing these new iPads at the MacWorld conference in late January.
Now, a January announcement is not entirely out of the question - the first iPad was announced in January. However there are two problems: first, Apple hasn’t been to MacWorld in two years, and is not on the schedule for January, so unless Apple has some sort of secret arrangement with MacWorld, that is not likely to be the setting. Second, Apple has been consistently shortening the gap between the announcement of a new iOS device and its release. While the first iPad was announced in January 2010, it was not released until March. The iPad 2, on the other hand, was announced in late March and released in early April. The gap between announcement and release of the iPhone has narrowed in much the same way: the six months between the announcement and release of the first iPhone was reduced to a gap of less than a month with the iPhone 4S. So if the iPad doesn’t reach full production until February, a January announcement is not likely.
Okay, then, let’s sum up: 1)the iPad 3 may be getting a major battery boost; 2)there may be (though I doubt it) two iPad 3 models being prepped for launch; 3)Apple may be (but probably isn’t) preparing for a January 2012 announcement of the iPad 3, possibly (though not probably) at MacWorld.