Here Are Six Features Apple Should Include in the iPad 2 (And They’re Not the Ones You Think)

1/7/11Follow @wroush

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otherwise beautiful aluminum rim. Apple should look for a way to fix this in the iPad 2. But if the company has learned anything from the iPhone 4 Antennagate fiasco (another form-over-function mistake) it won’t try to use the rim itself as an antenna.

6. A Dual-mode Display for Indoor/Outdoor Use.

Amazon scored a few PR points against Apple with this TV commercial dramatizing the fact that the reflective E Ink screen on its Kindle e-book reader actually gets easier to read in outdoor light, whereas the iPad’s transmissive LCD screen dims to a faded scrim. Of course, the Kindle screen doesn’t support color or video. But maybe this isn’t an either/or situation. San Bruno, CA-based Pixel Qi has developed a color dual-mode LCD screen, already used in the XO Laptop from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, that’s both reflective and transmissive. Indoors, the screen looks like a regular LCD. Outdoors, with the backlight off, it looks sort of like a color Kindle. (And as a bonus, it draws 1/5 as much battery power in this mode.) Maybe Apple should give Pixel Qi a call.

* * *

There’s one new iPad feature that many commentators have asked for, but doesn’t actually make sense to me: an iPad-sized Retina display. The iPhone 4′s Retina display is a truly remarkable piece of technology, squeezing 640×960 pixels into a 2-by-3-inch space, or 320 pixels per inch. But if you scaled that up to the size of the iPad’s 5.75-by-7.75-inch display, you’d have something like 1840×2480 pixels to work with, or nearly 5 megapixels, and that’s just ridiculous. It’s far more resolution than you need for HD video, and it’s more data than you can really stuff through today’s wireless pipes or store on today’s flash memory chips.

And there’s another addition that would be nice, but isn’t even worth asking for: the ability to run Flash video and animation on iOS devices. Apple doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to a truce with Adobe on this issue. And if Steve Jobs’ contention that Flash is a CPU-hog is true, then it doesn’t make sense to ask Apple to add more processing power to its mobile gadgets just so that Flash can eat it up.

So, there you have my wish list. Watch this space to see how many of my suggestions Apple actually adopts. I scored about 50 percent back in 2008-09 when I gave Amazon some unsolicited advice about how to improve the original Kindle, so I’m optimistic.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • Gada

    Really great article! But have u seen the motorola zoom running honeycomb! NICE! I am a true apple fan and will stick with them until they “get to cocky or to lazy to compete” but truth be told they need to separate iOS from the iPad! My iPhone 4 should not be more powerful than my tablet, and my tablet should not be so weak that my phone can run the same programs! It’s 2011 where is my spacely sprocket tablet that makes sense in 2011! Have u seen the tablets from japan that appeared on G4tv last night at CES! WOW! is all I can say!

  • vartan

    Agreed. What I am really hoping for is not iPad 2…but MacPad. In fact, i think it should have MacPad all along. right now, iPad is like iPhone and iPod, in that it needs a home (to sync with iTunes, and activate, and add data, etc.). I think that a tablet should not require a “mother ship” as it were. The truly innovative MacPad would run (you guessed it..OSX) and it, itself, would be the mother to smaller iDevices. Thus, I think MacPad should come in as a touch-based mobile version of MacBook Air. (And i dont think it would eat into Air, it would supplement it). There would be much more functionality in a MacPad.

    Also, make 1 dock-contains-all…Keyboard, Magic Mouse, or Magic Trackpad, Superdrive, what have you. When you are home, you dock in your MacPad. When you leave you grab it.
    Simple, easy, MacBook Air totally mobilized.

  • http://www.kshpress.com Deon

    Wade, you had me nodding along until you said: “I think Apple still sees the iPad mainly as a tool for consuming media content rather than creating it”.

    I know this is one of the talking points about iPad of the band of iHaters still shaking in their boots. And, it has been their meme even before Jobs took the stage and announced the product’s specifics to the world! But from Apple’s actions, I disagree they think iPad is “mainly as a tool for media consuming”: Why did Apple invest their resources creating a brand new best of breed iWork suite (spreadsheet, presentation, and word processing) for iPad’s launch? Have you seen the Apple iPad ad, ‘Electric’?

    Furthermore, from my research it is obvious many enterprises, small and gigantic, are embracing iPad as a {gasp} “notebook PC replacement” for some critical functions – including content creation.

    Cheers!
    Deon Robinson
    Author of: ‘So You Got An iPad. Now What?’
    http://bit.ly/kshpress

  • TX

    Good list… but retina display is an absolute. Have you tried reading an ebook on iPad? After a while the fuzziness of small fonts shouts for retina.

  • http://www.thenetimpact.com/ Web Design

    Nice list. I think you’re right on with the camera thoughts.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    @vartan: Wow, interesting concepts. Sounds like you’re talking about a MacBook “AirPad” where the guts are in the screen half and the keyboard detaches for when you don’t need it. That would be very cool indeed.

    @Deon: It’s true that there are plenty of cool apps for creating media on the iPad, including iWork and all the drawing and drafting programs. But without cameras, the device is crippled. The iPhone version of iMovie would make so much more sense on the iPad, and a touch-driven version of iPhoto would be super cool. I’ve never come across a convincing technical argument about why Apple couldn’t put cameras into the original iPad, so I’m forced to speculate that it was because they really want people to spend their time buying content rather than running around being video producers. Or there could be more charitable explanations: maybe they just needed an extra year to perfect touch-driven photo & video manipulation software.

    @TX: Retina display would be cool on the iPad. I’m just saying it’s a bandwidth and memory issue. Plus, Apple has already forced all iOS app developers to upgrade their UIs twice (first for the iPad, and then Retina on the iPhone 4) and it would just be cruel and unusual to make them go back and do it again.