Things we absolutely know about the next version of the iPad: it's not going to have a 7-inch screen.
Thanks to CEO Steve Jobs' epic rant against the spate of tablets set to be released now through next year of that size, it's an easy prediction. But what else do we know for sure about Apple's followup to the insanely successful iPad? Not much.
Rumors, leaks, and guesswork can offer this, though: it probably has a front-facing camera (FaceTime makes perfect sense), will likely come sometime in the first quarter of next year (Apple has a pretty predictable refresh cycle for gadgets), and the 3G version might be dual mode.
According to analysts who are checking with suppliers, Qualcomm may provide chips that allow the iPad to run on both CDMA and GSM networks, a so-called "world" iPad. The current 3G version is GSM only. The same analyst, Brian Blair of Wedge Partners, says the iPad will be manufactured from the same unibody construction design process from a single chunk of metal that the MacBook Pro uses.
The dual-mode iPad makes a lot of sense considering that Apple is now offering the iPad on both CDMA and GSM networks. While the 3G version of the tablet AT&T (and others) sells has GSM chips inside, the Verizon version comes bundled with a wireless hot spot. It's a workable compromise, but one that the complexity-averse, minimalist design-oriented Apple probably hopes is short-lived.