Apple’s Wednesday announcement

What’s coming out of Apple on Wednesday?

iPad 3, duh

Not a whole lot to question about this prediction. The rumours that the iPad 3 will have retina display have been circulating for months, and the invitations to Wednesday’s event all but confirm that those rumours are correct. iPad 3 will be (probably) thinner, lighter, better resolution, and the same price as iPad 2.

For those looking for a cheaper tablet, iPad 2 may remain available at a lower price than before, the same way that iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS have done since iPhone 4S was released in October.

New iPad software

One of my favourite aspects of Apple events is that I very often get new toys to play with without having to fork over hundreds of pounds for new kit. Hardware announcements almost always come with at least a little bit of new software that existing users can take advantage of.

That said, there certainly won’t be an iOS update. iOS 5 is too new for that. Not to mention that Apple has to give developers a chance to update their apps before pushing a new system out, so we’re extremely unlikely ever to get one by surprise. But there’s a decent chance of us getting some new or updated apps.

Neven Mrgan predicts an overhaul of the iPad’s Photos app into something much more like iPhoto for Mac. That sounds like a nice improvement to me.

There’s also the outside chance of Siri making an appearance, although given her reportedly poor reliability while still confined to the iPhone 4S I’m not sure it would be a good idea to open up that system to the millions of existing iPad owners. If Siri makes up any part of this week’s announcement, I’d bet on it being for iPad 3 only.

Maps

Here are a few facts:

  • Apple is no longer on very friendly terms with Google, the supplier of mapping data for iOS maps.
  • Maps on iOS hasn’t seen a significant update in years.
  • Apple has been buying mapping technology for a while.
  • Apple likes to control every aspect of its products.

It’s easy to surmise that a new version of iOS Maps will appear eventually. Despite my loyalty to Google, I’m actually excited to see what Apple does with this. Maps is one of the areas in which Android trounces iOS right now, so it will be great to see what Apple comes up with.

As confident as I am that a new Maps is on its way, my bet is that it won’t be happening on Wednesday. It will form part of the next iPhone announcement instead. How often do you use Maps on your tablet versus on your phone?

Apple TV

Since Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography came out people have been speculating about what Apple would do with the Apple TV. That’s because Jobs apparently let on to Isaacson that he had finally figured out what Apple needed to do to change the shape of the TV industry the way it has done with music.

I believe that something is happening with TV in Cupertino, but there’s no sign that this week’s event is where it will be unveiled. If it’s as big a change as people seem to think then there’s no sense overshadowing the iPad 3 launch with it. If it’s a smaller update, then it doesn’t merit time to dilute the main message of the event.

On the other hand, there have been stock shortages reported of Apple TV units, so an update isn’t out of the question.

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