Excitement is building for the March 7 announcement of the iPad 3. Of course, we don't know that it will be called "iPad 3." iMore has posted an excellent preview of the event, summarizing all the rumored features of this new device. Everything points to a high-resolution retina display, improved camera, faster processor, and high-speed LTE data. Their article even includes a summary of the expected features of iOS 5.1, which will be running on the device.
One big question in my mind is whether it will have Siri. I'm betting it will, and I'll be seriously disappointed if it doesn't. Siri would be a primary reason I'd upgrade from my iPad 2. It seems inevitable that Apple will eventually include Siri in all of its products. However, an article on iMore points out some of the obstacles to including Siri. For one thing, the low-end iPad models don't connect to the data network, and Siri needs an Internet connection in order to work. Another more general issue is server load: natural language understanding is very computer-intensive, and Apple's servers might not be able to handle a sudden influx of millions of additional Siri users — especially since the tendency for new Siri users is to ask a ton of silly questions just to see what Siri says.
All of the evidence to date suggests that the new iPad will look pretty much the same as the iPad 2, except that it may be a tiny bit thicker and with more rounded edges. Various parts of the device have been floating around, and the video below shows that when assembled, the device is very much like the iPad 2.
There had been rumors that Apple would do away with the home button, but as this video shows, it's still there.
When will the iPad be available? Some are saying that Apple will begin taking orders on March 9, but that it might not actually be available until the end of the month. Various reports have surfaced that even then the supplies will be short because manufacturers are having a hard time making enough displays. I hope these reports are wrong, and that there are enough of these gizmos for everyone and that I'll have it in my hands by next week.
PhoneArena.com has reported that Best Buy is already receiving shipments of iPad 3 cases from Targus. The cartons with the cases are marked with a pink sticker that says "Do not display until official iPad 3 launch." I'm hoping this means we'll have it soon. And also it suggests that the device will in fact be named iPad 3.
One thing is certain: Apple expects to sell a ton. According to AppleInsider, Apple is expected to sell 40 million iPad 3s and 25 million iPad 2s in 2012, for a total of 65 million. Plus, there continue to be rumors that a 7-inch iPad will be coming, which also ought to boost sales even further. AppleInsider has a post that names the supplier of the displays for the forthcoming "iPad-mini." One rumor says that it will have a 7.85-inch display and be priced at $249-299.