Yesterday, Apple confirmed that the next iPad, which I presume will be called the iPad 3, will be announced at a press event at 10:00 Pacific on Wednesday, March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the same place that the original iPad was announced on January 27, 2010 and the iPad 2 was announced on March 2, 2011. The invitation to the event says "We have something you really have to see. And touch."
The graphics that accompany invitations to Apple announcements always receive close scrutiny to determine whether they give anything away. Here is the picture on the invitation that was sent around yesterday, as reported by Joshua Topolsky of The Verge:
Last September, the invitation for the iPhone 4S announcement said "Let's talk iPhone," which at the time I noted could include a double-meaning, not only that Apple would talk about the iPhone but also that the iPhone itself would talk with you. Sure enough, the iPhone 4S added Siri.
I suspect that the "something you really have to see" langauge on the invitation is a reference to a Retina Display screen, the biggest rumored feature of the next iPad. I've also seen several people claim that the screen shown in the above graphic is much sharper than the current iPad screen (such as this post from Gizmodo). Frankly, I do believe that the next iPad will have a Retina Display screen. The iPad and iPad 2 have a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi). My guess is that the next iPad will have a 2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 ppi. (The iPhone 4 and 4S have a 960 x 640 pixel resolution at 326 ppi.) While technically that means that the screen density would be even better on the iPhone than the new iPad, as a practical matter I expect it to look the same because you typically hold your iPhone a little closer to your face than the iPad. Also consider that 2048 x 1536 is better than the resolution on your fancy 1080p HDTV (1920 x 1080), so if that is what Apple will be using, it will look amazing.
What else? I'm sure that the new iPad will also have a faster processor. New iPads and iPhones are always faster, plus it will need to have a much better processor to take advantage of the Retina Display screen. There is also a rumor that the next iPad will support LTE 4G on cellular-equipped models. I'd probably opt for a Wi-Fi only model anyway, but I would consider 4G on the iPad significant primarily because it would signal that the 2012 version of the iPhone would also have 4G when it is released, presumably later this year. There is also a rumor of a better camera. The only time I use my iPad 2 camera is for FaceTime, so while a better camera would be nice and is a logical feature to upgrade in a new model, it isn't a big deal to me. I really hope that the next iPad adds Siri, a feature that I love on my iPhone 4S and that I miss on my iPad 2. Lex Friedman and Dan Moren of Macworld offer a good roundup of other rumored new features, while at the same time breaking the record for most puns in a Macworld article.
There are also rumors that Microsoft is planning to announce a version of Office for the iPad, and if this happens, perhaps it would also happen at the March 7 event. And there are rumors of a new version of the Apple TV, presumably one that would add support for 1080p.
Time will tell which rumors are true, and I'm really looking forward to Apple's announcement next week.