Apple's (AAPL) next iPad may offer new features such as TouchID, a sharper screen, new processors and upgraded cameras, as it seeks to boost falling tablet sales.
In its fiscal third quarter, Apple shipped 13.3 million iPads, generating $5.89 billion in revenue from its tablets. However, that's down sharply from the prior quarter and the year ago period, when it shipped 16.35 million and 14.61 million iPads, respectively. On Apple's earnings call, CEO Tim Cook noted that sales were down "in part by a reduction in channel inventory and in part by market softness in certain parts of the world. For example IDC’s latest estimate indicates a 5% overall decline in the U.S. tablet market, as well as a decline in the Western European tablet market in the June quarter."
Cook seemed to try and downplay the slowdown, talking about how much customers are using them, and their satisfaction with them, but the company needs to keep innovating in the market to keep consumer interest.
Apple could release a new iPad (Shutterstock)
While the iPad is largely expected to look the same as last year's model, it may get a spec bump that will help spur sales, and bring new people into the Apple ecosystem. Apple may introduce the A8 chip in the iPad, which is expected to have as much as an additional 20% to 30% computing power.
Apple may also make changes to the cameras on the iPad, upgrading both the front and back cameras. The back camera on the iPad Air is 5 MP, and the front camera is 1.2 MP.
The other major change Apple may make to the iPad is bringing TouchID, the company's security and identification system. There have been leaked images of both the iPad Air and the iPad mini with TouchID at the bottom (the ring around the Home button indicates this), and could eventually be used to help Apple expand into mobile payments, something Cook has hinted at in the past.
The iPad may also get a better screen, with the current iPad Air having a 2048 x 1536 resolution.
As far as pricing goes, Apple has done a great job of keeping pricing steady, but packing in extra features. Right now, Apple's tablet line up starts at $299 for the first-version of the iPad mini and runs up to $929, for the WiFi + Cellular 128 GB version of the iPad Air. It's expected that Apple will keep pricing the same for its latest iPads.
Apple is expected to unveil the new iPads at an event, perhaps as soon as October.