It's been about three and a half years now since the first iPad was introduced. It may not seem that long ago, but when you consider that since that day in January 2010, Apple has introduced four versions of its slate as well as a smaller sibling, you can see just how far the tablet has come.
At an event on Oct. 22, Apple is expected to add to that stack of tablets with its fifth-generation iPad as well as unveil some improvements to its iPad Mini. So, what does the future of the iPad look like? Here are some features we expect the next versions of the popular tablets to have based on industry chatter.
It appears the biggest changes to the next generation iPad will be cosmetic. Apple's bigger tablet is going to look a lot like its smaller tablet, according to various leaked photos posted by Australian Apple insider Sonny Dickinson, Chinese supplier website sx-box.com and reports from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
Like the iPad Mini, the photos show a much thinner design, with rounder edges and a narrower frame or bezel around the 9.7-inch screen. According to sx-box.com, which got its hands on the purported case of the tablet, the new iPad will measure 7.2 mm thick -- 2.2 mm thinning than the current iPad.
Those same photos show a relocated speaker to the bottom of the tablet and the microphone now on the top of the device. According to Dickinson's site, the iPad will also come in a new space gray color. No word if the ever-so-popular gold will make its way to the tablet.
What the leaked photos of the case don't show is the home button, which is said to likely be home to Apple's new TouchID fingerprint sensor found on the new iPhone 5s. Like with the phone, you'd be able to log into the tablet with just a tap of a finger.
Also said to make its way over from the iPhone 5s is Apple's latest 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion co-processor. There are also some rumblings of a better 8-megapixel camera. The 9.7-inch Retina Display isn't expected to change.
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iPad MiniWhat the next generation of Apple's smaller tablet will look like is less clear. While the design is likely to stay the same to match the new larger iPad, there are strong rumors that the smaller tablet will get a higher resolution Retina Display. DisplaySearch, The Wall Street Journal and others have reported that the better screen has been in production and will arrive on the tablet.
However, those rumors are met with resistance. Reuters reported that the Retina Display iPad Mini will not roll out widely this holiday season because of supply constraints. Economic Daily News has reported the same.
Whether the Retina iPad Mini arrives or not, it is very likely that Apple will update the Mini's processor to the A7 and also give the camera a boost. Both the iPad Mini and the fifth-generation iPad will run Apple's iOS 7, which was released for the tablets last month.
But, of course, this all remains an educated guess until next week, when we will have the official details of what Apple's next tablets will look like.