What’s on Tap in the Next iPad?

Even though Apple CEO Steve Jobs has stepped away for a leave of absence, his mark will be felt on new Apple products for some time to come, given the long lead times necessary in research and development. And since it’s been almost a year since the iPad was introduced, rumors about the next-generation model have begun to pick up steam.

The Washington Post’s Rob Pegorano and TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey have stayed on top of the chatter and are offering handy rundowns of what many web sites are reporting.  Unsurprisingly, front and back cameras top the list — since the iPhone 4 and the latest version of the iPod touch sport them, it only makes sense for the next iPad to join the FaceTime party. Flash may be included too, although, as Mr. Coldeway asked: “Who wants to take a picture with their iPad?”

A Verizon-compatible 3G iPad is a given, since an executive at the company already spilled the beans on that one, although Mr. Pegorano notes that some rumor mongers are expecting a tablet that supports AT&T and Verizon’s networks in one chipset. Mr. Colewey chimed in to note that Apple’s new multi-core A5 processor, which is rumored to power the upcoming iPhone 5 and next iPod touch, enables support for both CDMA and GSM signals, which lends more credence to that rumor.

Other possibilities: an SD Card slot, which would be a departure for Apple, given the lack of such a feature in any of its other products; a higher-resolution screen that could be 2048 x 1536; and a Mini DisplayPort video output. Those three things could justify another rumor, which speculates that prices for the new iPad could start at US$699, according to Mr. Pegorano.

Mr. Coldeway added a couple other possibilities: improved speakers, which he thinks are “almost certain,” and support for Apple’s iLife apps, which he says have a “good chance” of showing up.