Summing up the Rumors: iPad 2 and iOS 4.3

Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3 to developers yesterday and today the Internet is swirling with rumors about not just what’s in iOS 4.3 but also about what this means for the next generation of iPads. Assuming Apple will stay with an annual update cycle for the iPad, it’s easy to guess that we could see an announcement as early as February and that the new iPad will go on sale in April. Given the nature of the Apple business, that makes the middle of January the prime time for speculating about the next iPad.

Here is a brief summary of all the iPad rumors we have encountered so far:
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  • The next iPad and iPhone won’t feature a home button. The reason for this is that now that iOS 4.3 brings new multi-touch gestures that bring up the task switcher and home screen, you won’t need the home button anymore. According to Boy Genius Report’s anonymous source, Apple is already testing iPads and iPhones without home buttons on its campus.
    John Gruber, however, also points out that this could create serious discoverability problems. Currently, the home button is the only physical button on the face of the device and this is what makes the iPad and iPhone so easy to use for novice users. “How in the world would a normal person figure out or guess that they need to do a “five-finger pinch” to get back to the home screen?”
  • Photo Booth is coming to the iPad. This makes sense to us. It’s a little utility that won’t see a lot of use, but that Apple can highlight in its ads and that one or two engineers could easily port to the iPad.
  • iLife is coming to the iPad. This also makes sense. With iMovie, Apple already took a first step in this direction. Music software is very popular on the iPad, so a scaled-down version of GarageBand would make sense and the same goes for iPhoto.
  • The next iPad will have a camera for photo and video.
  • The next iPad will feature the same screen resolution as the current one. Looking at iPad2-specific images in iOS 4.3, the good folks at 9to5mac found that their resolution is 1024×768.
  • Apple could be building its own mobile social network. MacRumors found an entry for “Find My Friends” in the new version of iOS that is related to MobileMe and the Settings app. Given the disaster that was Apple’s last attempt and building a social app (Ping in iTunes), I can only hope this will be more interesting.
  • iPad2 will launch on April 2nd or 9th. According to this rumor, the iPad 2 will go on sale in the U.S. first and then makes its way to other markets about three months later.

These are just the rumors. Thanks to the release of iOS 4.3, we also know quite a few things about the new version of iOS at this point. Here are the highlights courtesy of Pocket-Lint.