Kyle Wiens of iFixit, a Web site that provides free repair manuals and advice forums, has been a reliable prognosticator of everything Apple. With the next iPad expected to come out in March, Wiens recently gazed into his crystal ball.
On the eve of other major Apple unveilings, Wiens rightly predicted that the iPhone 4S would not run on 4G networks because the 4G chipsets were woefully power-inefficient. He predicted that the iPad 2 would have more RAM and a dual-core chip, but not higher resolution.
The team at iFixit also broke the story that Apple was using tamper-resistant Pentalobular screws to stymie do-it-yourselfers from making repairs and swapping in new batteries. In response, iFixit fashioned a Pentalobular screw driver.
iFixit has endeared itself to the Apple user community; Wiens is now a regular speaker at the renamed Macworld | iWorld conference held annually in January at the San Francisco Moscone center. What about Apple? It's not a big surprise when Wiens says, "We just don't hear from them."
CIO.com sat down with Wiens last month at the conference to get his predictions on what the next iPad will look like, what challenges are in store for the iPad this year, and what the next area of Apple innovation might be.
The iPad 3 is on deck. What are your predictions?
Wiens: I anticipate the iPad 3 will have basically the same form factor but with double the screen resolution. A Retina display, or four times the pixels, would be the goal. Although I haven't run the numbers, it all depends on how far you hold it from your face. It'll be very close to the Retina display. There might also be a high-resolution camera.
To go with this, Apple will have to up the graphics processor. Right now it's a dual-core, gigahertz-ish processor, but I think there are a lot of improvements down the pike for graphics performance on iPads. (In its iPhone 4S teardown, iFixit found that the A5 dual-core processor with 512 MB RAM fell short of 1 GB.)
Have you seen Infinity Blade 2 on the iPhone? It's gorgeous. The graphics are just awesome. You can't really see pixels or flaws. But on the iPad, there's notably lower resolution. That's because the iPhone and iPad use the same graphics processor (while screen sizes are different). Apple needs to up their game on the iPad.
What about performance improvements?
Wiens: My guess is that improvements will be incremental, not insane-unless Apple decides to go to a quad-core. Will the next iPad have an A6 with a quad-core? I haven't seen enough data to know. I would expect Apple to go to a quad-core within two years, but I don't know if it'll happen this year.
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