Apple iPad 5 Release Event Announced: Invitations Hinting At Redesigned Smart Cover?

 @redletterdave
on October 15 2013 7:52 PM

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) on Tuesday released invitations for its Oct. 22 media event, which say, “We still have a lot to cover.” The Oct. 22 event is expected to introduce two new iPad models, some updated Mac computers, and reintroduce OS X Mavericks before its release date in either late October or early November.

IBTimes first predicted the Oct. 22 Apple event in late September, after also successfully predicting the Sept. 10 media event for the new iPhones back in August. After the Oct. 22 event, we believe Apple will release its new Mac hardware and software within a week or two, while the release date for both new iPads will be Friday, Nov. 1.

But let’s talk about the Oct. 22 invitations for a moment. Prior to its product events, Apple tends to embed clues in its invitations to subtly hint at what might be unveiled. CNET has the entire history of Apple invitations, which have teased iPhone and iPad features with taglines such as “Let’s talk iPhone,” a reference to Siri in the iPhone 4s, and “We have something you really need to see. And touch,” for the third-generation iPad with Retina display.

“We still have a lot to cover.”

It’s possible there’s no hidden message at all; according to most accounts, Apple is expected to unveil and release several new products at its Oct. 22 event, including two new iPads, updated MacBook Pro laptops, new Mac Mini desktops, its new Mac Pro computer, OS X Mavericks, and possibly even some new Apple TV hardware. Considering most Apple events are about an hour to 90 minutes long, Apple would literally have “a lot to cover” in a short time frame.

But could the tagline be insinuating something else? Considering Oct. 22 will mainly be an iPad event, it’s possible Apple will be updating its “Smart Cover” to make it even smarter when the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 see their expected Nov. 1 release date.

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The iPad is great for gaming and Web browsing, but many consumers use the iPad for productivity purposes, too. In an effort to make the iPad an even more effective work tool, Apple may not add any more buttons or functions on the tablet itself, but it’s possible Apple could have reworked its Smart Cover to allow for more viewing angles, and this time around, it’s possible the covers may feature an integrated keyboard.

Sure, an iPad Smart cover with an embedded keyboard would essentially look like Apple stealing from Microsoft and its Surface tablet’s Touch and Type Covers, which include QWERTY keyboards with a myriad of functions and shortcut keys. Apple’s iPad may have the Surface beat when it comes to market share, but the iPad has sorely missed having its own connected keyboard to complete the iPad ecosystem; in the past, Apple has relied on companies like Logitech to create iPad-friendly keyboards (the Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad is still the very best iPad keyboard on the market, and I highly recommend it).

An improved Smart Cover may not seem like a big deal for the iPad initially, but if Apple can successfully create an iPad cover that's protective and useful for typing, Apple will have effectively made its iPad into an extremely cheap laptop starting at just $499. If the accessory is anything like Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad, it could act as both a kickstand and a keyboard, which would make it a highly flexible and creative solution for the iPad's longstanding problem with typing. And if Apple can make the new “Smarter” Cover can transform the iPad into a full, ideal computing solution for all things work- and fun-related, the iPad 5 with Smart Cover combination, with the right marketing, could end the PC as we know it, once and for all. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens on Oct. 22.

What To Expect At The Oct. 22 Event

Obviously, the centerpiece of the Oct. 22 event is the two new iPad models -- the fifth-generation iPad and the second-generation iPad mini.

When it comes to the iPad 5, we believe Apple plans to release its newest tablet with the same 9.7-inch Retina display but a smaller, sleeker and lighter form factor that more resembles the iPad mini. In fact, we believe Apple has chosen to release the iPad 5 with the exact thickness, thinner side bezels and symmetrical speaker grilles as the iPad mini, as well as a similar aluminum unibody and less tapered back for an easier grip. 

Considering last year's iPad 4 was powered by a dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics, we believe the iPad 5 could release with the same chip, but since Apple has never introduced a new iPad without upgrading its processor, it's safe to say the iPad 5 will run on the same A7 chip from the iPhone 5s, or even an A7X chip, which would simply be the same A7 chip optimized for iPad. This chip may also mean the iPad 5 could release with the same M7 co-processor found in the iPhone 5s (which isn't really essential, but it would be a test-run before the chip's mass implementation in the iWatch), but the presence of an A7-esque chip would certainly mean the iPad 5 would be capable of Touch ID.

As for the iPad mini 2, the picture isn't so clear. Rumors and allegedly leaked photos indicate the iPad mini 2 will release with the exact form factor as its predecessor, which means one of two things: The iPad mini 2 will release with slightly upgraded specs and a Retina display, or the iPad mini 2 will feature greatly upgraded specs (maybe even Touch ID, but that's unlikely since that's a major jump in processors generation-to-generation) and possibly even a gold color option, which would sweeten the deal for consumers hoping for an iPad mini with Retina display. If Apple chooses to release a non-Retina iPad mini this month, expect the iPad mini with Retina display to release early next year.

Besides iPads, we also expect the jam-packed Oct. 22 event to reintroduce OS X Mavericks, which was first unveiled at WWDC in June, and some new Mac hardware to go with the new Mac software, including an updated MacBook Pro with Retina display, a new Mac Mini, and the new, completely redesigned Mac Pro, which was also given a sneak peek in June. We may also see a few surprises at the Oct. 22 event, including new Apple TV hardware, or even a first glimpse at Apple's rumored smart-wristwatch, the iWatch. We believe most new Mac hardware will release within that week, while the release date for both new iPads will be the following Friday.

Are you excited for the Oct. 22 Apple event? What do you think the invitations mean? What do you think about the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2? Sound off in the comments section below.

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