Cor blimey, is it that time already? It seems like yesterday that Apple announced the first iPad, but it was indeed a year ago. And the wonderful world of tech has been speculating on iPad 2 ever since.

So, before the madness descends upon us once more, here's Team Pocket-lint's ten pennies-worth...

It will be the same, but different. What I mean by that is that it will feature the same operating system and the same screen and possibly an extremely similar case design. 

The differences, however, will be the addition of front-facing and rear-facing cameras, and faster specs and bigger memory (ie. storage) inside. 

We won’t be getting a Retina display, and we won’t be getting something that is massively different from what is already on the market.  

This is about building momentum, not changing the game again.

I'm as excited as a kid in a sweet shop, who's about to be told that they've decided to change the name of Snickers again to... Shit bar (tagline: It looks like shit, it's even got the occasional peanut in it).

This could be the biggest let down in the history of let downs, even bigger than the iPhone 3GS. In fact, it could mirror the 3GS in the same way that iPad 2 will be incrementally better than the previous generation. Or it could just be a mirror, with its wonderfully reflective screen.

The camera(s) front- and (maybe) rear-facing instil me with just enough excitement to get out of bed in the morning, but not swap my dressing gown for some actual clothes - after all, who wants to FaceTime on a tablet, apart from Jason Manford and Leslie Grantham (US readers need only Google them, or search for "celebrity Skype cocks")? And with no Retina screen on the horizon, the viewing experience will be identical to before (although, in Manford's case, that's a blessing).

I'm interested in a new processor, as I often find that I forget to close down apps completely and their "multi-tasking" abilities make my original iPad chug along like an Asthmatic tram. But I can't see what else Apple is planning to pull out of the bag.

Instead, my enthusiasm will remain tepid at best.

Probably still buy one though. 

When it comes to design, the original iPad hasn't aged, so I don't think we'll see anything drastic, a minor tweak to differentiate and stimulate the accessories market, but substantially it will look the same.

There will be a front facing camera to slot into the FaceTime eco system, which is on all their other devices. An SD card slot won't make an appearance, as Apple will want to keep control over how you add content or expand the memory.

The biggest changes, I think, will be on the user interface. Whilst the iOS is simple and effective, there are a number of areas that can be enhanced. Notifications and multi-tasking are the obvious ones, moving from a static, one app at a time, to something more dynamic, so you can be browsing the web whilst having an IM chat with a buddy.

I think we'll see a glimpse at where the iPhone will be going too, addressing some of the basic criticisms of that interface.

But the killer feature will be the ice cream maker on the back, so you can get a cone or cup any time of day, supported by apps from Ben & Jerry's, Haagen Daz and Langnese for German owners.

Before I give my predictions about the iPad 2, I should warn you that I have been deep in the augmented reality jungle for around two weeks now. I have had little to no time to read any news or rumours on the subject of the Apple tablet because I’ve been busy coming up with a series of articles of solid gold of AR Week on Pocket-lint. When you’re finished here, I suggest you go and check them out now. It also hasn’t helped that Google has accidentally cut off my Gmail all week.

All the same, I am entirely confident that without looking I can accurately predict what we’re going to see tonight. I’m not sure if Jobs will be on stage or not, but what will be there is an iPad that is to the original iPad pretty much what the iPhone 3GS was to the iPhone 3G - only it will now have a front facing camera to push the FaceTime agenda.

There will be no Retina Display, no other-sized iPads and no front facing camera or 3D business going on either. Just a webcam and some faster innards. I’m sure I read something about an Cortex-A9 system on a chip upgrade rather than the incumbent Cortex-A8 when I last looked. So expect something on a par with the Tegra 2 set up, only frustratingly underclocked with the sensible idea of hanging on to some battery life. Apart from that, it’ll be a pep rally on sales figures and a string of superlatives backed up with some carefully chosen statistics. Oh, and one more thing. The one more thing will be a iOS 5.

It's going to be disappointing isn't it? Sure, they'll be a few killer new features that make us go "ooooh" and "aaaah", but unless it's packing a USB port (or Thunderbolt), an SD card reader and has a HD resolution then I won't be upgrading. I've no need for a back facing camera on a tablet (although a front facing one is handy for video calls, I'll admit) and iOS 5 won't be exclusive for the new tablet, so I really can't see any reason to abandon the original just yet - especially with the iPad 3 rumours heating up. 

If the internet rumours are anything to go by, then the iPad 2 doesn't sound that different to the original model. It's likely that it'll be a tiny bit slimmer and maybe even have an extra couple of mm on the screen size and there may even be a white model.

There's been lots of talk about an SD card slot or a USB port, but it would be a big surprise if Apple included either of those. However, it looks like a dead cert that the new tablet will be getting a front-facing camera for FaceTime. Looks like Apple might be joining Team Dual-Core with a fancy new processor too.

Whatever the iPad 2 has, it's bound to come with a hefty price tag that puts it right at the top of the tablet price spectrum and way out of reach for many of us mere mortals. Oh well, at least we can all go back to writing about Angry Birds cakes tomorrow...

If the rumours of additions of cloud-based MobileMe, slightly improved spec and dual camera are anything to go by then half-arsed will probably be the best way of describing the iPad 2. Apple will be hoping to dress the current iPad in the Emperor's new clothes and watch the money come rolling in before the iPad 3 launch.

iPad 2 will have a special non-slip coating on its screen so this one can be used as a tea tray without risking spillage. It will also have rubber edges so you can use it like a Frisbee, cleverly tapping into the dog-owning geek niche.


So there you have it, none of us think there'll be much in the way of surprising or massive improvements, apart from Ian, who has been working a lot with glue today.

The best way to tell whether we were right or not, though, will be to join Pocket-lint for its unparalleled coverage of the Apple launch this evening. We'll see you here.

You've heard our theories, but what do you think the iPad 2 will feature? Let us know in the comments below...