Apple has started manufacturing the new version of the iPad, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. This news means that an official announcement will be coming shortly. It’s expected that the next generation iPad will go on sale around April, but it could be on shelves as soon as later this month.
Apple is notoriously tight-lipped, so we still don’t know what the device will be officially named. The obvious choice is “iPad 2″, but Apple has been known to get creative with its naming conventions (MacBook Air, iPod Nano, iPhone 3GS).
What we do know, if reports are to be believed, is that the new iPad will be lighter and thinner than its predecessor. It will feature front and back cameras that will allow it to run FaceTime, Apple’s video chat application. It won’t take the place of your digital camera, though. Not only would using an iPad to take photos be cumbersome, but the iPad 2′s camera is expected to be a 1 megapixel camera (adequate for video chat, but certainly not for documenting your family vacation). It will also feature a larger and more powerful speaker.
The iPad 2′s screen will apparently not be getting an expected upgrade, however. The iPhone 4 (released in June, 2010) featured an ultra-high resolution screen that Apple called the “Retina Display.” Many expected the iPad 2′s screen to feature the same technology, but recent reports suggest that it will not. The is a curious omission, but Apple will surely spin it in a way that won’t make it seem so glaring. They have to save some features for the iPad 3, I guess.
Apple sold 14.8 million iPads in 2010, accounting for more than $8 billion in revenue. Some analysts have estimated that those numbers could double in 2011.