Since late 2010 rumours have been abuzz about what to expect and not to expect about the upcoming iPad 2. These rumours fall in two categories: one is a wish-list type prediction. These say, because I’ll like to see it, then I believe it’s coming. The other comes from a handful of mainstream tech journalists who claiming special knowledge from “people close to the matter”. I sit here and read them all and in some of them I go, “nah! that’s not going to happen”. And here is why.
This is the most “nah!” of the iPad 2 predictions I see online. If you know anything about Steve Job’s Apple, you’ll know that IOS will never support Flash unless those 6 issues raised in Steve Jobs paper, “Thoughts on Flash” are addressed by Adobe. And you and I know that this has not happened yet, if ever they would. So, you can be sure that Flash will not come on iOS devices anytime soon. Many web sites have been re-writing to accommodate non-flash devices and most browser manufactures (even IE) are gunning to make HTML5 more mainstream that it used to be. There would be no reason for Apple to return to Flash right now and potentially lose the edge on that unbelievable 10-12 hour battery life. That brings me to the next group of predictions.
Just so you know, the one most unsung yet most significant success story of the iPad is the battery life. It works because the battery lasts all day. It won’t be such a great travel companion if the battery dies on you at the first airport. You won’t have carried it everywhere you were going if you needed to carry charger cables with you. There are a few key things Apple did not spare resources for during the design decision for iPad. One of them is battery life. They purchased an entire chip company and used their processor because it gives all that power and uses less battery than what the other chip makers could squeeze in. So, if you want iPad 2 to sport anything, just ask yourself: will that hurt battery life? If the answer is yes, you are not going to get it. From what Jobs said on “Thoughts on Flash”, Flash would therefore be a “Nah!”. So would some of the things people are speculating on.
Price is a big deal! So big a deal that two major contenders (HP Slate and Microsoft Courier) that started this race with iPad did not make the finish line the way iPad did and many person think that price had lots to do with it. They could not bring it in at a close-enough price and battery life. Historically, Apple’s version x+1 of any iOS device would always either see a price cut or feature bump for the same price or both. So, price is looking really good. I am putting my money on feature bump. That is, Apple is more likely to give you a larger storage space, more memory and more speed for the same price than to lower the price altogether. The main argument against lowering price is that there is no serious price contender right now and sales are amazing at the current price point.
PC-type File System
This is a tough one for me because I really want the feature for myself. But the nagging voice of reason in my head is saying something else: Apple is very consistent with design philosophies. Once something does not match the design philosophy, it doesn’t make the cut. iOS devices are designed to be non-geeky. They are designed not as computer interfaces but as consumer electronics. Apple does not want iOS devices to look so ‘computery’ with file name and extension and file association and stuff like that. That’s the drawback for a generic file system-type interface. I am not saying the feature will not happen. I am saying that it will only happen after Apple figures out a way to make you not have to know a file name to access the space.
One possible way this could happen is to make the file system into a service that supports both standard MIME types and unique app-registerable types. The idea is that when Apple opens the file system for you, they don’t want you to identify the item by file name. They want you to see a nice view of page 1, a nice photo, an album cover or video frame. That’s what is holding back the file system and if it’s coming, it’s coming because they have figured this out. And of course, if it comes, Safari will also support the browse button and you can interact with your local or LAN network file system from web sites.
This is not going to happen. Take a look at the iPods, from v1 to v-now; the iPhone, from v1 to v-now; and the iPad. Take a look at any of those vis a vis their competition. You’d notice that while their competition believed that you have to attach some extended memory card slot to help you expand what these devices did, Apple cannot stand people poking flat plastic devices into their computers. Funny but that’s true. They’d rather devise a file format that is so compact that you never use up all your 64GB of flash drive than to give you a slot that no one ever really uses.
There are three things counting against this one: Battery power concerns, design philosophy (Apple wants all iOS devices to speak to the world of peripherals through the 30-pin interface. Period). More fundamentally, Apple doesn’t really like peripheral interfaces that look so mechanical and techy and ugly. They don’t want their devices look like you could take screw-drivers to them. They don’t like people poking things into their personal devices, if they can help it. First, they spear-headed making the floppy drive smaller then got rid of it. Then, they spear-headed getting rid of the parallel port. Then, they spearheaded replacing the serial port with USB and then got rid of it. They never liked the CD tray and never had one. They had a narrow slit slot … and that’s even only on their full-scale computers. You are not likely to get any of these on the iOS devices.