2010 was a flagship year for Apple as it defined, and re-defined the marketplace of mobile computing on a whole range of consumer products. The iPhone 4 brought us incredible functionality like the FaceTime video chat and the visual glory of the Retina Display, but its antenna issues stand out as one of the largest blunders that Apple has had in recent years. The iPad stands out as the biggest leap forward, and though it had a shaky reception at first and was the target of a multitude of menstral jokes it turned out to be one of the year's most championed pieces of technology. Even the more standard iPod forms got a major upgrade with the 4th Generation iPod Touch finally gaining a hold on the iPhone's camera features and the iPod Nano jumping into the touch screen world.
Now that we are ramping up into the year 2011, new devices are taking our real attention as we are looking to see what Apple will have in store for us over the next twelve months.
1. iPad 2
What is going to be included in the iPad 2 remains somewhat vague, but we are getting a much clear readout on what to expect because its date may be approaching even faster than the other devices. What is expected of the iPad 2 is that it will begin matching many of the features that the iPhone holds at the very least. This means the inclusion of a dual camera format so that FaceTime could hit the iPad format for a large screen video chat option. The camera will likely come along with the standard iPhone camera software as well as the ability to record 720p HD video.
The basic casing and construct of the iPad 2 is likely to change somewhat with rumors indicating a thinner and more light weight carbon fiber paneling. This is going to lead to a much more sleek iPad 2 that will be even easier to move around quickly. This may also lead to a flat backed iPad 2 and the Retina Display seems like more than a rumor at this point.
The most exciting of the iPad 2 rumors is that it will come with an on board USB port, which would be one of the main features that would separate it from the functionality you see with the iPhone and iPod Touch. This would allow you to bring in outside files to the iPad 2 without a regular sync process and would indicate its shift toward personal computing and away from the PDA presentation. This computer orientation will also be matched by the adoption of the dual core processor that is rumored to come under the hood. If this is the case, the new iPad 2 hardware will open up doors for what iPad app developers have the ability to work with and will eventually seperate the iPad apps from those built around the iPhone.
All of this is around what may be three classifications of the iPad 2, instead of the two for the first generation iPad. Here we may then see the iPad 2 divided up into the Wi-Fi only models, as well as those that support UMTS or CDMA. There is no telling how the pricing will be set up between these models, but it will likely still hold $100 increments in between the storage size levels.
The mini iPad has continued to be a rumor around the upcoming release of the iPad 2, and there still has been nothing that would actually confirm this type of product. With the current iPad design and the expectations of the iPad 2, a mini iPad would still be too simiiar to an iPhone or iPod Touch to seem viable. This may be a practical option with the release of the iPa 3 or iPad 4, but currently there seems to be no market for it.
2. Verizon iPhone
The Verizon iPhone has been the most discussed, rumored, and requested item from Apple ever since the iPhone signed an exclusive deal with AT&T in the U.S. The rumor mill began flying again recently because of the beliefs that the Verizon iPhone would then be released after the New Year, even though this would bring it out directly after the holiday season. Now that it was a no show at the Consumer Electronics Show it seems unlikely to see the Verizon iPhone as early as January, but it still could be.
What we will be likely to expect from the Verizon iPhone is that it will be the basic functionality of the iPhone 4 built with the Verizon contract, none of which will be clear until its actual release. The Verizon contract will likely allow older clients to upgrade to the iPhone with contract re-negotations, but it does not appear that the iPhone 5 will be available at the time of the Verizon iPhone release. What will stand out as the main attractive feature of the Verizon iPhone release will be its connection to the verizon 4G network, possibley prompting it to be called the iPhone 4G. This may indicate that the iPhone 4G may be the new standard to expect from both carriers, but there will probably not be an incredible amount of features between Verizon's iPhone 4G and the current iPhone 4.
3. iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 is the longest steam roll for a new Apple device and is the most standard to expect because of the yearly release over the last half decade. The iPhone 5 could include any number of features, but what many people have come to expect is its ability to tie into a 4G network from both AT&T and Verizon. This may standardize the iPhone 4G name, but this will likely not change the amount of features that are brought onto the model.
A few of the things that we have come to expect from the iPhone 5 are some things that did not make it onto the more recent iPhone 4. The white iPhone is one of these that has made the blogs go up in arms, and most consumer publications kept expecting it to hit the market a few months after the first iPhone 4 release. Since the white iPhone had such a demand and series of delays from Apple you can expect that the iPhone 5 will be announced with a white iPhone available right from the beginning. Beyond this you can also expect that hardware changes will be made from the iPhone 4 design, especially around the disasterous antenna structure.
FaceTime was the cornerstone of the iPhone 4 release and you can expect that it will be extended to the 3G, or possibly 4G, network instead of purely Wi-Fi connectivity. This will again depend on the type of network availability that you see with the coming At&T release.
Beyond these options the reality of the iPhone 5 continues to just be rumors, and we can end up seeing new options for connecting with the touch screen, on board keyboards, extended functionality for the app developers to utilize, or an entirely new build.