Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Will iPad Have Unannounced Features?

Tons of folks have poured through the iPhone SDK looking for indications of what new features the iPhone and iPad will have. We're about 4 months away from new iPhones (Apple traditionally announces new iPhones in the June-July time frame). So it stands to reason that Apple will be unveiling a bet of iPhone 4.0 pretty soon, right?

And what did these fine folks find? A lot and a lot of nothingness. Let's go through what they've found. After some digging, many blogs have found icons that would seem to indicate that Apple has at some point thought about adding cameras for the iPad.

Also, it would also seem to indicate that Apple is allowing for some type of voice communication. Since the iPad doesn't have traditional telephony features like the iPhone, we're on firm ground to say Apple is doing something VOIP-related.

Now, here's where it's possible all this means nothing. What folks are digging through are iPhone 3.0 features. So, had folks been digging through the same SDK, can't the same claim be made that these VOIP evidence are as much for the iPod Touch as it is for the iPad?

Evidence or not, there is a more important question. At the iPad unveiling, did Apple show us everything there is to know about the iPad or was there more? Common sense says that if there are additional features that will make its way to the iPad, Apple will not make them known until iPhone 4.0 is available because some of those features may make their way to the iPhone and iPod Touch. And not to disappoint some conspiracy theorists, Apple would not exclude features on the iPad in the initial Jan announcement just to obfuscate its competitors.

On the other hand, timing can tell us a lot. First is the pre-orders for the iPads. I don't know if there will be pre-orders. Steve Jobs has indicated that the WiFi version will be available 60 days after the initial announcement while the 3G version 90 days after that.

As time slows, and it always does when you're waiting for something you desire greatly, and creep towards the end of March (around the 60 day wait), Apple may schedule a special event to showcase the next version of the iPhone OS. A couple of things may happen. Apple will unveil additional features for the iPad, iPhone, and the iPod Touch.

What many, including myself want to know is if Apple will add a frontal camera at the last moment to allow for the eagerly awaited video conferencing feature.

So, Apple allowing for preorders will be critical in tell us about any hardware add-ons like the frontal camera. It would not make sense for Apple to initiate iPad preorders without telling people that they're getting an iPad with a webcam. Personally, I think that would be a welcoming thing but I'm not sure it's a wise thing from a business and image standpoint.

However, if Apple doesn't say a word until the availability of the WiFi-only iPad and couple it with a press event for the iPhone 4.0, Apple can say they decided to add a webcam at the last minute. Everyone walks away happy.

How likely is this? Unlikely because it would mean Apple also plans on adding a frontal camera to the next version of the iPhone. It would really hurt sales between the end of March and until the end of June, the period between surprising everyone with an iPad equipped with an iSight and when an iPhone with iSight is unveiled. Why get a 10-month old 3GS when they can wait two more months and get something better? The only way this can be remedy is if Apple moves up the release date of the next iPhone.

That certainly is not going to happen. Either way, I'm looking forward to the iPad as it is now. If there are additional hardware enhancements like an iSight, I am certainly not going to complain about it.

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