Though it may not feel like it outside, spring is almost here, which means it’s time for Apple to refresh its iPad line. Updates will most likely include a faster dual-core processor (possibly 1.5GHz), not a quad-core processor, and a higher screen resolution. Upgrades to the GPU and a boost in RAM are both pretty much guaranteed, but what I am most interested in is the iOS update.
With quad-core chips only in one device (Asus Transformer Prime), the current generation of hardware is getting very close to its plateau. Bumping a processor from 1GHz to 1.5GHz will only do so much for the common user. But the most effective way rebuff the notion that the new iPad will be the equivalent to the iPhone 4S, is a substantial software update.
Since its launch in 2010, the iPad has been ahead of the iPhone in receiving the next generation of iOS updates. This changed with the iPhone 4S and Siri. This could have been a strategic change for Apple, or it may have been just to get Siri out the door — but I believe that the updates in iOS 5.1 will be great enough to validate the $500 or more purchase for iPad users.
Here are some updates I expect to make it into iOS 5.1, and some that should, but most likely won’t:
This is pretty much a guarantee, and it should have been on the iPad 2 already. I’m pretty sure the iPad 3 will meet Apple’s secretive specifications for Siri to work on it. After all it does have a microphone, Internet capability, and a home button.
My biggest gripe with Siri is the lack of ability to change the default app that is brought up when speaking commands. For example; when I say “play a song,” I want to be able to change the default app from Music, to let’s say Spotify. I should be able to pause my music by voice without Siri telling me, “you’re not listening to the Music app.” I should be able to check the weather with The Weather Channel or AccuWeather instead of Apple’s completely inaccurate weather services provided by Yahoo. An API for Siri needs to be released sooner rather than later, and with the iPad launch coming up, there couldn’t be a better time.
I’m not the biggest Facebook fan by any means, but their reach cannot be overlooked. It’s time for these two behemoths to get with the game and provide integration just like Twitter did last year. Will it happen? Probably. Even though these are two companies who like to be in control at all times, Apple has the upper hand. With the success of Twitter’s integration, and Facebook’s desire to hit 1 Billion users before their IPO this spring, their hand may be forced.
App Store Return Period:
I couldn’t tell you how many stories I have heard of kids purchasing apps or in-app upgrades for hundreds of dollars. Apple should learn from Google’s implementation of a 15 minute window, in which purchased apps can be returned.
Safari is the best mobile browser in the world by far. It is also one of the ugliest browsers available (the stock Android browser is the leader in the clubhouse). Google has brought the speed and beauty of Chrome to Android, albeit for just 1 percent of users, but it is available. Apple has gotten by with not making any aesthetic improvements on the browser since its release, but with the best browser in the world making its way onto mobile devices, this will need to change.
Something That We Won’t Expect:
Apple is the best in the world at giving consumers something that they didn’t know they wanted. This will happen again. Whatever it is, it will be dubbed as brilliant and life-changing by Apple during its announcement, scrutinized by journalists, criticized by Android users, and protected like a newborn by Apple fanboys. And after all that, we will find that whatever it is is pretty good, but it could be better.
Don’t expect a complete overhaul of iOS — remember, while significant, this is the first update since the iOS 5 release in November. If you were expecting an overhaul of multitasking, a home screen redesign, or any kind of dramatic change to the OS, it is highly unlikely it will happen on iOS 5.1. Those big moves will have to wait until June, when iOS 6 is presumably announced at WWDC.