Tablet Features Two Years from Now

There have been a lot of words written in the last week about the iPad 2’s upgrades and how they stack up to the other tablets hitting the market this year. By now, we have a general idea of what hardware upgrades we will see in the next 6 months. But, I’m starting to think long term. The announcement that a Windows Tablet OS is still at least a year or more away got me thinking about what features users can expect in the hypothetical (but very likely) iPad 4 and its litany of competitors in 2013.

Quad Core Processing?

This is the year of the dual core mobile processor. The Tegra 2 and A5 are both set to boost the speed of tablets considerably. Phones and tablets alike will soon blaze through email, web surfing and games faster than ever before.

Asus just announced a quad core processor with 3D capabilities for release this year, and as prices come down on that chip technology, you can bet it will be integrated by other brands as well. What does that mean for the tablet experience? With additional RAM, we’re looking at full multitasking, dynamic dashboards, and far more advanced apps than we currently have.

Battery Life

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Apple set the bar for battery life last year with the first iPad. 10 Hours. That’s what everyone strives for right now and not every manufacturer is even able to hit that mark. But, as time passes, expanded battery life is something we’re sure to see. The chipsets will become more efficient, the screens will utilize less power, and you will finally be able to use your tablet on a complete international flight without needing a charge. Will it happen by 2013? It would certainly be nice.

Enterprise Execution

This year is when most corporations will research and test which tablet ecosystem is right for them. Apple claims that 80% of the Fortune 500 is doing so right now with the iPad. Android is likely on the same track with its easy integration of Google Apps and more flexible platform for IT oversight. Then there is the Playbook, which will probably arrive very soon and plug into the existing network of 250,000 BlackBerry servers.

Enterprise execution will drive even further innovation in tablet security, cloud applications, and enterprise apps. It is unlikely Apple will open up the App Store for IT deployment anytime soon, but there are plenty of other things they can do to support the growth of enterprise interest in the platform.

Constant Connectivity

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Within two years, 4G networks will have been deployed and marketed in most major regions. All tablets and likely all smart phones will work on 4G and your tablet will never again be disconnected. There will still be WiFi only models, of course, but even WiFi is more accessible than ever before.

What’s really interesting to think about is the kind of Apps that will sprout up with constant high speed connectivity. Video conferencing is here now, but what about real time document collaboration, online gaming, or university classes being taught via tablet?

What Else?…

It’s impossible to know for sure what the next two years will bring. Manufacturers are rushing to the market to produce a tablet that can compete with Apple’s juggernaut. That alone will drive innovation in ways we can’t realistically guess. Things like the Pixel Qi screen, 3D display (and camera) and clever new convertible devices are all hitting the market in 2011.

Dream big here folks. Tell me what you’re hoping for in future tablet technology– what you would like to see more than anything on a tablet PC? For example, I was enamored with the heads-up display computing demonstration put on by Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry at TED a couple years ago. I love the idea of having a 3”, 7” or 60” device whenever and wherever I need it.