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Our top ten wishes for the next-generation iPad

The minute the announcement about the third-generation iPad rollout next Wednesday hit the TUAW newsroom, just about everyone was throwing out ideas about what they'd like to see in the new model. Here are our top ten wishes for what we want to see in whatever is announced on March 7:

1. Retina Display

There's not enough detail in the picture on the invitation (above) to really discern whether or not the new device will have a Retina display, but it's one of the most likely new features to appear. There have been leaked photos of an alleged display part for the next-generation iPad that show a doubling in pixel density, so we expect to see a new and much enhanced display.

2. Improved Processor

To power those extra pixels, iPad: TNG is going to need more horsepower under the hood. So far we have two possibilities: a faster version of the dual-core Apple A5 (rumored to be the A5X -- see below) and a quad-core processor called the A6. Since these systems-on-a-chip also contain the system RAM, we may finally see a doubling of RAM to a full 1 GB ... or at least that's what we're hoping.

3. One Unit, Mulitple Carriers

Right now, Apple has to sell two different versions of the iPad 2 -- one for GSM carriers and the other for CDMA carriers like Verizon. As with the iPhone 4S, we'd expect to see the next-generation iPad come with the capability of running on all networks. I think this is a no-brainer for the new iPad, as it reduces Apple's iPad SKUs by three.

4. 4G LTE

There's a lot of debate here at TUAW about whether or not iPad: TNG will come with 4G LTE built in. On the plus side, Apple could compete with the plethora of Android tablets that are equipped with 4G LTE. On the other hand, 4G LTE still isn't widespread in most countries and battery life for LTE devices is still an issue, so would Apple be willing to sacrifice battery life in order to notch a competitive edge on the proverbial belt? We don't think so.

5. Better Cameras

This is one wish that I personally don't care about, since I don't take photos with my iPad or use it all that much for video calls. But once again, the technology is available and Apple already has the 8 MP rear-facing camera in the iPhone 4S. My personal opinion is that this is a no-brainer, and that the next-generation iPad will have an 8 MP rear-facing camera as well as a front-facing HD (1280 x 720 pixel, AKA 720p) camera for FaceTime. After all, the new Macs are using 720p FaceTime HD, and we all know that Apple doesn't care how much bandwidth we're using... A front-facing HD camera would be a nice boost form the current VGA model in the existing iPads.

6. Siri

Another point of contention amongst the TUAW bloggers is whether or not Siri will make it to the new iPad. Those of us who use Siri a lot think it's a natural for the new device, while others don't think it has a place on a larger device. I'd personally love to use Siri's excellent voice dictation capabilities for writing texts, notes, and reminders on the iPad. Should Siri find a place to live on the new iPad, the device will most likely get the dual noise-cancelling microphone setup that is used to feed the brains of Siri with high-quality voice input.

7. Stereo Speakers

While the existing monaural speaker of the first and second generation iPads is "pretty good," especially when compared to (according to Dave Caolo) the Nook Color, a set of good stereo speakers on the bottom of the device would be a welcome addition. Since a lot more people may be using their iPads to watch movies on that Retina display, why not add better sound quality?

8. "Button-free" Design

Another debate that has been raging through the newsroom is whether Apple will discard the current physical home button for a "virtual" button that's just an extension of the touch-sensitive display. My personal opinion is that they wouldn't do this -- people have become accustomed to feeling for the home button with their fingers, and unless Apple can provide a haptic display of some sort, they won't tamper with success. Then again, maybe that's what Apple is hinting with that "And touch" comment on the invitation.

9. More Storage

The current iPad comes in 16, 32, and 64 GB flavors. While this might just be a requirement for some of our bloggers, there seems to be a difference of opinion on whether or not a 128 GB edition should be added. For those who like to watch a lot of video on their iPads, 128 GB would be a welcome addition. Some of the bloggers think that Apple won't expand storage since they want price points to remain fairly static and the Retina display will cost more than the existing display; others think that Apple will add a 128 GB model and just charge more for the luxury of more storage.

10. "Smarter" Covers

The Smart Cover was introduced with the iPad 2 and provides a way to turn the display on and off without reaching for the power or home button. Several of our bloggers want to see a newer version of the Smart Cover. How could it be improved? How about getting rid of the sharp edges? Another idea was to build a solar clock and calculator "with big buttons" into the cover so one could check the time and do taxes without having to fire up the ol' iPad.

That's our list of the most wished-for items for the next-generation iPad. What would you like to see? Leave your comments below.

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