A quad-core CPU would certainly give developers more power to play with, but in order to be able to make full effect of this, existing apps would need to be rewritten. Depending on how well Apple puts together its SDK (Software Development Kit) then this could be simple or complex.
But the real issue related to a quad-core CPU isn't related to the apps. Instead, it's down to having to run off of a finite power source.
There's also no doubt that a beefier CPU would put a significant dent in battery life, so once again Apple is in a position where it is having to balance making the iPad more powerful against keeping battery life at an acceptable level. Both the first-generation iPad and the iPad 2 had a battery rated for 10 hours of usage. So I'd be surprised if Apple deviated from this figure with the iPad 3.
This means that the boffins at Apple are going to have to find more precious Watts from somewhere. Components that are more efficient will no doubt help, but it's hard to see how a quad-core CPU (especially if combined with a retina display screen and a more powerful GPU) won't need to be backed up by a bigger battery.
Then last week the rumors relating to the iPad 3's processor took an interesting twist when a photo surfaced on the Chinese forum WeiPhone purporting to be the new main board showing a processor (or more accurately, an SoC or System on a Chip) with A5X markings.
Most of the rumors relating to a quad-core part had suggested it would be called A6. A5X suggested a revised A5 processor rather than new part. If the photo was real (and I still have my doubts about it) then it seemed that the iPad 3 wasn't going to have a quad-core CPU after all.
Another rumor to the rescue … this time in the form of code snippets from the iOS 5.1 beta, which suggested that Apple has added support for two new processors, codenamed S5L8945X and S5L8950X. The original A4 chip in the iPad was called codenamed S5L8930X, while the A5 chip in the iPad 2 was S5L8940X.
This suggests that the S5L8945X could be an updated A5 processor, and that the S5L8950X is the new A6. Does this indicate for sure that Apple has two new iPad 3 processors in the pipeline?
No, it doesn’t. In fact, there are a number of reasons why Apple might do this. Apple might indeed be planning to release two flavors of iPad, each with different processors. But maybe these references are for development purposes, or maybe these codes don’t refer to iPad processors at all, but instead they’re for other devices that can run iOS.
I think that a faster processor in the iPad 3 is a given, and if Apple can squeeze in quad-core silicon, so much the better.
One of the key selling points of the iPhone 4S has been the built-in Siri voice assistant that lets you ask her (or him, depending on your country) all sorts of cool things. For instance, what the weather’s going to be like, details about upcoming appointment or even for suggestions on where to hide a dead body.
Given the popularity of Siri on the iPhone 4S, I think that it’s a no-brainer to suggest that the iPad 3 will come equipped with Siri. It’s just too good of a feature to pass up.