Four things we want to see from iPad 4

The wish list starts here

Even though Apple has just unveiled its new iPad, it's never too soon to start thinking about the future: namely the iPad 4.

And that's why, as impressive as new iPad was in its introduction Wednesday, we're still left wanting more. Needless to say, while the newest iPad has a lot of great things going for it such as a Retina Display and LTE support, it doesn't have absolutely, positively anything we could want out of a top-tier tablet. Here, then, is a simple list of features that we want to see in the next version of the iPad that will likely hit sometime in early 2013.

1). Siri. The new iPad does have voice commands, which is nice. But does it really compare to having a voice-enabled personal assistant that's capable of learning your speech patterns and crafting responses based on how you naturally talk? Or put another way, it's nice that the new iPad can take voice dictation, but we'd also like to see it give dictation of driving directions, meeting times and other key aspects of our daily lives directly to us.

2). A laptop dock. Even if the iPad really does succeed in ushering in the "post-PC era," it could still use some more PC capabilities. That's why we'd like to see Apple follow the lead of companies such as Asus and Novera in giving the iPad its own optional laptop dock that can let us hook the tablet up to a keyboard and use it more like our own desktop computer. While Apple is unlikely to do this, especially since such tablet-PC hybrids haven't really caught on yet, it would certainly be a bonus.

3). A lower-priced, seven-inch version. Yes, we know. The iPad's size clearly isn't broke, so Apple shouldn't try to fix it. At the same time, we can't deny that seven-inch tablets have some distinct advantages, most notably their ability to easily fit into coat pockets and purses. And although Apple clearly hasn't suffered financially from maintaining the highest prices of any big-name tablet vendor, the thrifty shopper in us can't help but think a $300, seven-inch iPad would sell like gangbusters and thoroughly undercut any headway Amazon has made with its Kindle Fire tablet.

4). 802.11u connectivity with Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint capabilities. This is obviously a really big long shot since PassPoint has just been announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance and there's no telling whether it will really catch on with mobile device manufacturers. But we can dream, right?

For the uninitiated, PassPoint technology essentially creates a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and allows you to access any in your area that take part in the program. What's more, any hotspots that take part in Passpoint will allow you to connect without entering in any login or billing information since the program supports Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)-based authentication that cellular networks currently use to grant users seamless handoffs between cell sites. This also means that carriers can forge Wi-Fi roaming agreements with one another that could, for instance, give AT&T subscribers access to Verizon hotspots without having to enter in any information or manually connect to different networks. If this technology can be successfully integrated into the iPad, it will make Apple's famed tablet even more mobile than ever.

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Brad Reed

Network World
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