When Apple announces its new iPad on March 21, the result won't be the long anticipated iPad Air 3. Instead, if all of those widely spread rumors are correct, which they frequently are, what will actually appear is a smaller version of the iPad Pro.
That's because when you look at Apple's past product introductions, it's not that hard to figure out what to expect in the new iPad Pro.
In fact, the biggest secret involving the new tablet is the name, not the stuff inside. Apple doesn't usually move its technology backwards, and it's safe to assume that the company won't start now. Instead, what we're probably going to see is a new tablet that replaces the iPad Air, but which moves beyond it.
It's also safe to assume that Apple isn't going to abandon the 9.7-inch form factor. The larger iPad Pro introduced last fall brings some real power to the Apple tablet, but it's large enough that portability took a big hit. For many, the 12.9-inch screen made the tablet too big for easy insertion into a briefcase, and the larger screen limited usefulness for some people.
It now looks like Apple will bring the technology of the iPad Pro to a smaller tablet and make that new tablet part of the iPad Pro line. This means that you can expect to see a very high-resolution, stylus-sensitive screen with support for the Apple Pencil. There will also be a smart connector on one long edge of the new iPad and an accompanying keyboard and cover.
Rumors about other technology improvements cover just about every conceivable option, but one source, 9to5Mac, is usually pretty accurate. The folks there are saying that the new iPad will use the 12-megapixel camera from the iPhone 6S, and that it will use the A9X processor from the current iPad Pro, which makes sense. The larger iPad Pro that came out last fall was equipped with an 8-megapixel camera similar to the one on the iPhone 6.
Beyond that, other rumors claim the new iPad will have a version of the iPad Pro speaker system, which was a vast improvement over the speakers on previous iPads. There are also rumors that the new iPad will be able to handle 4K video, as is the case with the iPhone 6S. Others are predicting that there will be a flash on the back of the soon-to-be announced iPad Pro.
What we don't know is whether the new iPad will have a name that will differentiate the 9.7-inch version from its larger sibling. We should all hope it won't be the iPad Pro Mini.