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iPad 3: The ultimate rumours round-up UPDATED

There's plenty of rumours emerging about Apple's next tablet - FaceTime HD cameras, retina displays and LTE chips, to name a few. Here's our guide to the iPad 3.


The iPad 3 Rumours Round-up - iPad 2
The iPad 2 is amazing, but what will the iPad 3 bring to the table?

UPDATE: Apple’s Press Announcement is scheduled for Wednesday March 7th at 10am PST. We’ll be covering the announcement live on Twitter (@iCreateMagazine) and will blog about the event as soon as it is finished. Below is the Invitation Image sent out by Apple yesterday. For now, we’re left with the rumours…

We've carefully analysed this image, and we're PRETTY SURE that is an iPad...

If the rumours are anything to go by, the iPad 3 is imminent. That is, if imminent means somewhere towards the end of March (according the pretty reliable John Gruber). But the question that every tech blog worth its salt is trying to answer is, “What on earth is it going to feature?”. There’s plenty of fire to fuel that rumour mill in the form of a possible retina display, LTE chip, thicker form factor, thinner form factor, etc. etc., but what does it all really mean? Well, in the true spirit of being excellent to you all, we at iCreate have rounded-up what we consider to be the most credible reports of what might make up the iPad 3 when it launches (supposedly) this year. As ever though, nothing is certain and we’re just as prime to getting things wrong as the next guy, so feel free to Tweet us, write on our Facebook wall, email us or leave a comment at the bottom of this post if you think we’ve got something wrong or completely missed a trick. We promise we won’t get too upset…

iPhone4S retina display
Could we see the iPhone's retina display come to the iPad 3?

The iPad 3 will feature a retina display

Without doubt, this is the strongest rumour in our round-up, mainly because it’s the one with the most traction and credible sources (we’d certainly count Bloomberg’s report as a credible source). The retina display has been the jewel in the iPhone’s crown for some time now, with a resolution that makes pixels invisible to the human eye, it certainly takes graphics on portable devices above and beyond what’s been achieved before. But with many tablet and phone manufacturers playing catch-up with, and even surpassing, Apple as far as resolutions and display sizes are concerned, it’s time Apple rolled out this ground-breaking technology to the iPad 3.

Our verdict? This one is almost a given. It’s proved challenging for Apple to make a reality (read on to find out more about that), but it’s certainly something they’ll have to add to their tablets sooner or later.

So far, this much-hyped iPad 3 retina display has appeared to be a little problematic. If the rumours are anything to go by, Apple has already dropped Sharp as the manufacturer of the iPad 3’s screens in favour of LG and Samsung because Sharp’s output didn’t hit the necessary quality control requirements. This could be down to a number of factors, but what we know for certain is that the rumoured XQGA display (with a whopping 2048 x 1536 resolution) has presented Apple with a whole host of problems, which leads us neatly on to rumour number two…

The next iPad will sport a thicker/thinner form factor

Okay, this isn’t exactly a rumour, more a debate, but it’s an important one all the same because it’s pretty much up in the air right now. The obvious way to go here would be to assume that the iPad 3’s form factor will be thinner, ‘because Apple always make a thinner model’, right? Well, not exactly.

This rumoured retina display means that there needs to be a lot more backlighting to ensure that a screen with such a heavy pixel density is bright enough all the time. Put simply, it’s like trying to shine a light through a piece of cardboard vs. a piece of paper. You’re going to need a lot more light to do the former. A recent report by iLounge may go some way to confirm this thicker form factor rumour, but it’s worth noting that the prototype that editor Jeremy Horwitz viewed could’ve been anything up to six months old.

Our verdict? We wouldn’t be surprised if the iPad 3 gained a little weight to incorporate all this extra new features and, to be honest, we wouldn’t mind either.

FaceTime on the iPad 2
A FaceTime HD camera on the iPad 3 could really improve things

Apple’s next tablet will feature a FaceTime HD/1080p HD video camera

We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that this is fairly probable, despite their not being a huge amount of speculation surrounding this. This speculation, however, could be seen as an indication that this is almost a given. 1080p HD recording is already a reality with the iPhone 4S, and we’ve seen how closely the iPad mimics the iPhone’s camera specs in the past. The only thing that gives us any reason to doubt these predicted specs is the fact that…well…the iPad is pretty huge and a bit impractical for taking photos and shooting video with. That said, where it does excel is with video chat and FaceTime, so we wouldn’t be at all surprised (read as: really really really really really want) to see a FaceTime HD camera on the front of the iPad 3. Why? Because it just makes sense. Need we say any more here?

The iPad 3 will shop with a new version of iOS – iOS 6

Get ready for the unlikely alarm. We’ve seen this rumour crop up once or twice over the last few weeks and we really don’t think it’s worth the pixels its displayed with. iOS 5 was a pretty substantial upgrade that was only released towards the tail-end of 2011. On top of this, we’ve not even a substantial point upgrade to the latest version of iOS yet, so why would Apple kill it off so quickly? The only real logic behind this is if they’ve got some sort of incredibly feature to launch, but in our opinion, 2011 was a year of software for Apple (see: iOS 5, iCloud, iMessage, Lion et. al.) and this year will be Apple’s year of hardware (more on this at a later date).

Our verdict? Don’t hold your breath for iOS 6 this time of the summer.

iPad2 - form factor
If Siri came to the iPad 3 - touch-free operation

You’ll be using Siri to control your new tablet

We’re going to sit on the fence with this one, whilst there might already be reports of Siri-like dictation cropping up in iOS 5 betas, we can’t see this extending to full-fledged Siri functionality on the iPad 3. Why? Because of connectivity. When you ask Siri a question, it needs to contact Apple’s servers to decipher what you’ve just said then search around for an answer. All of this requires a stable, solid internet connection and if you’re out and about with your WiFi-only iPad 3, this might not be possible. Siri-like dictation would be lovely, but technically it could be a bit of a nightmare. Plus, it wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s engineers have dropped a false feature into a beta to throw us off the scent, would it?

Odds and ends

There’s a few other rumours that are worth a mention before we sign off and leave you all to discuss it all in the comments. For starters, that Bloomberg report we mentioned earlier spoke of the iPad 3 featuring an LTE chip. This is pretty feasible, but perhaps only in a top-of-the-range model. There’s talk over in our Twitter mentions of pro apps like Aperture coming to the iPad and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them sneak in to the iPad 3 announcement, albeit in a slimmed-down format. What do you think? What would you like to see in the iPad 3? Take a good guess via Twitter, Facebook, email or in our comments section to let us know. We’ll try and keep this blog updated as and when rumours break and change, so yours could up on here too!

(Originally posted 16th Jan 2012)