Six Ways To Improve the iPad

There’s a little bit of disappointment in Apple’s iPad announcement. Many were expecting an earth-shattering new device and all they got was an oversized 3G iPod Touch. As a follow-up to my recent article, Why you should relax about the new Apple Tablet, I’m going to explore why I’m not sure about the new iPad. There’s a great deal of potential in it, yet the first generation isn’t quite there yet.

Here’s six things the Second Generation iPad could use, and the likelihood we’ll see it:

Unlocked LTE:

The latest high speed wireless spec should be rolled out in 2010 by Verizon, 2011 by AT&T and T-Mobile. The great news about this is that an unlocked LTE device could conceivably work on any of the three US Wireless Carriers. (Sprint chose to go with the WiMax technology instead).

According to Wikipedia: “Co-existence with legacy standards (users can transparently start a call or transfer of data in an area using an LTE standard, and, should coverage be unavailable, continue the operation without any action on their part using GSM/GPRS or W-CDMA-based UMTS or even 3GPP2 networks such as cdmaOne or CDMA2000)”

Basically, current GSM (3G) technology is backwards compatible with future LTE technology which makes total sense that Apple isn’t bothering with a CDMA chipset – they’ll release an unlocked, LTE enabled iPad / iPhone when the time is right instead.

Since LTE is the technology that wireless carriers are about to adopt, the likelihood of an LTE iPad (and iPhone) is high. Its possible we’ll see this technology by the end of the year on Verizon and AT&T should be rolling out LTE in 2011.

Integrated iSight:

If there was one glaring omission on the iPad, it’s the missing iSight. Almost every netbook comes with a built-in webcam, why not the iPad? The iPod Nano’s got a camera on it now, there’s no excuse for this one.

This one could go either way.. While it’s low cost to stick an integrated iSight into the iPad, Apple loves to upsell little adapters, gizmos and devices rather than just include them in the product anyway. I can see a “special” iSight being sold-seperately as likely as them integrating one into the iPad.


Think about how the iPad will be used: browsing the web, listening to music, instant messaging, reading the New York Times, working on iWork documents, taking notes, using your calendar, and so on. Multitasking is more than necessary, it’s expected. Think about the gigantic uproar Microsoft stirred up with the whole Windows 7 Starter running only 3 apps at once netbook controversy.

In Apple’s defense, I think this is a matter of battery life and processor speed. Once low powered chips, displays and better battery technology get the iPad to the point where multitasking is acceptable to Apple, they’ll unveil this. They have to. I doubt Steve is stamping his feet, screaming “NO, NO, NO!”, when someone suggests multitasking.

More Print Publishers:

I’d love to see the iTunes store offering subscriptions to digital versions of Macworld, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall St Journal, and tons of other magazines and newspapers. I’d also like to see more publishers collaborating with the iPad as well. The NY Times special app is a step in the right direction, hopefully there will be more.

The technology is there and I believe Apple wants to see this also. They are probably negotiating agreements right now. I’d expect more publishers to be on board by the time its released.

Flash Compatibility:

Everyone on the internet is whining about the lack of Flash for the iPhone AND the iPad. Like it or not, Flash is the standard on the web. Yes, it’s a CPU hog but it doesn’t have to be. Apple and Adobe can get together and fix that. Apple’s been pretty obstinate about Flash, and here are some good reasons why.

Seeing that the iPhone has been out for a few years now without it and Apple’s not really interested in Flash compatibility, don’t hold your breath. Perhaps they’re waiting for HTML5 will take over. Or maybe Apple’s working on a competing technology. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame for the end-users.

Brand Positioning:

The iPad is being positioned as a middle-ground companion device. Somewhere between the iPhone and the MacBook. I’m sure they did this to hit the $500-$800 price point but I’d like them to push the envelope a bit more than offering an oversized iPod Touch to compete with the likes of an Eee PC, S10, Wind or Aspire One.

Why not position the iPad as a direct replacement to the MacBook instead? Make it a full fledged, awesome tablet that you’d buy INSTEAD of a laptop. Then drop the MacBook line. If you want something more traditional, get a MacBook Pro.

I’d pay more for an iPad that directly competes with and wipes the floor with my Aspire One, rather than mimics my iPod Touch. They’ve successfully differentiated the iMac / Mac Pro desktop lines, let’s see them do this with the laptops.

Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen and there’s also a possibility the iPad could become a niche product, like the MacBook Air. The iPad’s pre-announcement hype vs unveiling let-down is eerily similar.

Final Thoughts:

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the iPad idea. I see a ton of potential in the device. However, like my previous article, I’m going to wait this one out.

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