The iPad 5. Elusive. Secretive. Desired.
It's hitting that time of year again when Apple typically does product refreshes of its iPad line. But 2012 was a weird year for iPad refreshes, with the iPad mini and iPad 4th-generation updates back in early November, and a minor 128GB SKU refresh for the iPad 4th-generation just last month, in February of 2013.
Still, the rumor mill is spinning wildly and it points towards a possible release of Apple's flagship tablet between April and June of this year. Some industry observers think it could be as late as October, but I'm going to err on the earlier side rather than later.
Whether it happens next month, or late spring, we're definitely seeing an update.
The question really isn't when the update is happening, but what will be in it. Here's our top list of stuff we expect to see in the updated iPad line.
Recent leaks of purported iPad 5 parts coming out of China strongly seem to indicate that the updated version of Apple's flagship, full-sized tablet will share the industrial design of its smaller sibling, the iPad mini.
Tightening of the bezel area as well as using a slimmer casing will result in a lighter product as well as update a basic design that hasn't changed fundamentally since the iPad 2.
It's a given that with any major improvement in the iPad, we're going to see improvement in the base operating system.
While it's possible that the 5th-generation device might ship with an iteration of iOS 6, it's far more likely we will see a transformational upgrade with iOS 7 in 2013, which will include enhancements for human interface, such as more intelligence and improved voice response built into Siri, as well as major overhauls of built-in apps such as Maps, Mail, Safari and Calendar.
We're likely to see the introduction of badly-needed changes to the aging, although still-useful and user-friendly UX paradigm along with an updated, cleaner look and feel that will almost certainly result in the elimination of all vestiges of skeumorphism from the OS, as a side-effect of the exit of former iOS chief Scott Forstall from the company back in October of 2012, who was a major proponent of the skeumorph UX ideology.
Since the release of iOS 6, Apple's competitors have been releasing new and innovative features in their operating systems, such as the advanced multi-tasking and social feeds in BlackBerry OS 10, as well as numerous incremental UI improvements in Android Jelly Bean 4.2 as implemented in the Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, and not to mention quick-glance information telemetry with the "Live Tiles" implemented in Microsoft's Modern UI as part of Windows RT, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Will Apple incorporate any of these ideas from their competitors? It's hard to tell. But Steve Jobs was noted for saying "Good artists copy, Great artists steal."