I'm bored with the iPad.
Apple's breathtakingly successful slate is the standard for all tablet computing. Outside of China, its sales figures eclipse all other tablets. Its array of spectacular third-party apps brings everyone to the table, whether it's a four-year-old playing Toca Boca games, a writer working in Pages, or a business processing payments with Square. It's our favourite large tablet, and the iPad is an easy recommendation for almost everyone.
But when you're this successful, you don't want to disrupt yourself. You may not feel like you need to; the most successful competitors, like the £199 Kindle Fire HDX and all of those no-name Chinese tablets, are down at price levels with which Apple doesn't want to compete. Apple wants to deliver more value for more money.
Still, there are ideas from Android and Windows tablets that I'd love to see Apple steal and perfect. Right now, those two tablet ecosystems are brimming with experiments; at the high end, they're both mostly held back by system instability and consumer confusion over whether apps will run on tablets. At tomorrow’s iPad launch event, I'd like to see some of these ideas find purchase on the Yerba Buena stage. I probably won't get all of them, of course.
I'm going to try to avoid the boring predictions here. Yes, we need to see a Retina iPad mini, tablets with the A7 processor, and a slimmer 10in iPad. Maybe it will come in colours – but all that stuff is table stakes. Now let's play the real game. How about these apples?
A £219 Retina iPad mini. Oh, Amazon would weep – but it'll never happen. Moving on.
Two-window multitasking. The iPad is Apple's low-end laptop, and it now has a solid array of productivity software in Pages. As I've been using more Android and Windows tablets – especially Samsung's Galaxy Note series and some new Windows 8.1 tablets – I've grown used to the comfort of splitting a 10in screen between a web browser and Evernote, for instance. The iPad could take a leap forward in productivity by letting you do two things at once. In fact, give me windows and I'll replace my old MacBook at home with an iPad instead of buying a new Mac… oh. Right.
A great wraparound keyboard case. Also in that “low-end laptop” vein, I've been impressed by the Surface's Type Cover and by the detachable, magnetic, wireless keyboard on the Sony Vaio Tap 11. The iPad isn't a toy, it's a powerful computer, and a few ergonomic tweaks would ensure that it’s more easily used as a primary PC.
Kinect-like gestures. Why do we have to touch this thing at all? Maybe Apple won't go with the keyboard case. Maybe Apple will steal a march from Samsung, and earlier, TI, and come out with the first mobile device with truly usable Minority Report gestures.
Ports. Also on the list of laptop features the iPad won't get, it would be nice for the iPad to get expandable memory or a USB port. Here's a compromise: How about we put an SD card slot and a USB port on that nice wraparound keyboard case, sell it for £70 and call that a day.
A radical new battery technology. The reason the iPad 4 is thicker than the iPad 3 is because it needed a larger battery to support that high-res screen. Over the past year, we've been seeing high-res tablets arrive in thinner, lighter form factors thanks to lower power screens and processors. But for a few years now, we've been hearing about new, experimental battery technologies: The University of Illinois' new Li-Ion system, for instance, or lithium-sulfur. Apple probably won't be the first to bring this to market (I'm betting on LG, as they make batteries), but it would be awesome if Cupertino did.
Much better iCloud synchronisation support. Developers have wanted this for years now. The idea is that application data should auto-sync through iCloud between Macs, iPads, and iPhones. You should be able to work with, or play, anything you want on whichever device you have, seamlessly. Apple has been promising this since iOS 6, but simply hasn't been able to make it work. Dropbox won't sync application databases, so there's no real solution here.
Broad Touch ID support. The new tablets will probably have Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is used to unlock the device and make purchases. But Touch ID is just waiting for an API that would make it a universal password replacement. (This doesn't have to be insecure; apps would just ask the Touch ID API for a "yep" or "nope," like it's Jim Dalrymple or something). I strongly suspect this is coming in iOS 8 next year.
No rear camera. Apple needs to step up and stop people from looking like idiots. It's in everyone's best interests.
Am I not thinking big enough? Has reviewing too many phones cramped my imagination? Suggest more pie-in-the-sky ideas in the comments section below.