(Continued from Part 1)
So far, I’ve listed five things I’d love to see in the next iPad, including Retina Display, souped-up processor, 4G/LTE support, beefier battery and more memory. But is there anything more that could turn this tablet from a “great-to-have” into a “must-have”?
To this I say, “Yes,” so to round out this list are the remaining five things I’d love to see in the next-gen Apple tablet.
6. Improved Cameras
At CES, I actually saw people with iPads on tripods, filming the action on the ground. Not sure why that surprised me, but it did. I guess being able to capture, view, edit and share footage with just one lightweight, large-screened device must have been too tempting to pass up. And the rear camera on the current model is a 720p HD video camera, so it does an okay job of picking up moving images.
Where things get lame fast is when the little camera switch gets flicked over to still capture. Yeeshk. It’s less than a one-pixel camera, with resulting images that look like what it pretty much is — a still image grabbed off of video footage. Horrible. The front cam’s even worse. Maybe Apple didn’t think people needed great quality for FaceTime, but personally, I’d love to give my vid chat pals a break and not show up as a VGA-nastified bunch of grainy pixels for a change. You already have the tech, Apple. You put an 8MP shooter in the iPhone 4S, and HD FaceTime cameras in the new Macs. So let’s get the iPad up to snuff, k?
Dictation. Messaging. Search. Appointments. Reminders. The addition of voice control made things instantly more interesting (and useful). I’m not sure why some folks aren’t behind this, but I grew rather attached to Siri, and would love to see her grace my tablet, laptop, TV, refrigerator, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and car. For now, though, I’d be happy to settle with Siri on the iPad. Maybe then I’d be able to declutter and toss my various tablet keyboards. Me likey.
8. Stereo Speakers
I don’t think the iPad is a perfect device, and I’ve had my fair share of complaints along with praise. (*Cough* RAM, *bigger cough* cameras.) But one thing I’ve never complained about is the speaker. Frankly, it’s pretty good. Sound is clear, and it’s even fairly loud for a single speaker. But nothing can replace dual audio output. It would be a welcome change — especially during sessions of Infinity Blade II or Rage HD, or while streaming movies.
9. Home Button Preservation
There are rumors that the hardware home button is going away. (Apple itself even referenced “touch” in its invitations. Could it be referring to a new touch-enabled capacitive one?) The topic has been quite a contentious one. Plenty of people disagree about whether it should stay or go, and I have to admit — I’m in the former camp. With all due respect to Sage, I like the home button, and I want to keep it. It’s not just because it’s iconic, but it’s due to practical reasons: I can easily see myself unintentionally triggering systemwide gestures or hitting a “soft” or capacitive home button like crazy.
Critical moment in my game, and whoops! — I’m on the home screen. Shifting position as I watch a movie — dang! I’m on the home screen again. Time to re-launch the app and tap through to find where I was and resume. I already do this once in a while with the hardware button as it is. But remove it, and the accidental triggers will drive me nuts. (I can’t possibly be the only one, right?) I’d love to see some new physical features as much as the next design-minded person, but this is one area I want Cupertino to leave alone.
10. Refreshed UI
This is a software thing, granted, but Apple proved it could roll out tablet-only features without a lot of confusion or pain. (Safari tabs and four-finger gestures immediately come to mind.) Not that iOS 5 in general didn’t give a little lift to the platform, but even with swipe-down notifications, the overall feel is still pretty stale. The basic interface hasn’t really changed since it first launched. And while people could argue that the simplified UI and functionality suits the smaller screens of the iPhone and iPod Touch, the sheer boredom of it on the large-screen iPad is a bigger (and unnecessary) snoozefest. Fer goodness sakes, even if there’s a radically new-looking tablet on the way, its sexiness would be held back if it didn’t also include something new on the software front.
You know what could jazz things up? Widgets. I don’t care that Android got them first. And I know that there are those who’d disagree with me, but I’ve been campaigning for iOS widgets for years. The Notifications center dipped a toe into the widget pool, but if the new iPad has a new processor and battery, not to mention more memory, couldn’t it handle at least a few more widgets too? There’s more than enough room on that screen. I think live updating unread email, text messages or appointments would do nicely, for starters. And directly accessible settings for stuff like Bluetooth and Wifi would be yum. If those jump the notifications center and land on the homescreen and/or lockscreen, I might even pass out. Think about it, Tim — settings widgets alone would spank the need to jailbreak for one of Cydia’s most popular offerings: SBSettings.
Had enough? Of course not, so I’ve got a bonus section lined up for you: Part 3, including a few predictions to add to the bunch. See you on the other side.