Last Updated Jan 5, 2011 9:24 AM EST
Apple (APPL) may not want to reveal the details of the next iPad yet -- or even confirm the inevitable follow-up to the 8-million sold blockbuster -- but third-party accessory companies are already spilling the beans at this week's Consumer Electronic Show. It's impossible for them to show their wares without revealing some details on the next iPad's design.
Apple probably will not announce this Spring's iPad 2 for a few weeks, but here's what's known based on the third-party covers shown at CES:
Thinner device: The third-party covers at CES show that the next iPad will be a little bit thinner. The big difference won't be in width, but in actual shape. The current iPad has a slightly curved back. The next iPad will flatten out this back, making it easier for the device to be placed on a desk with minimal wobble. It is a subtle, but severe difference: The tech writers at Gizmodo actually tried to put their current iPads in one of the iPad 2 third-party sleeves, but they wouldn't fit.
Front-facing camera: The least surprising reveal with the covers, the front-facing camera was one of the features expected on the next iPad as soon as FaceTime was announced. The webcam will have several different benefits:
- Video teleconferencing apps
- FaceTime discussions between iPhone, iPod, Mac, and/or iPad
- Personal photography
Enlarged speakers: Based on the covers, the iPad 2 will replace the original weak speaker system with larger, more powerful speakers. In fact, the output is so large, the covers are showing a roughly two-inch wide cutout on the lower left-hand corner for the speakers. Compare this to the current iPad covers, which have a small, almost unnoticeable incision on the very bottom for the speaker output. The improved sound will help make the iPad 2 a better, more robust multimedia machine, especially when it comes to home entertainment like movies and music.