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6 Features the iPad Needs to Replace the PC

Can the iPad Conquer the PC?

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The iPad has come a long way since its original release in 2010. The original iPad lacked a number of features we've become accustomed to such as front and back-facing cameras, folders to organize our apps and the limited form of multitasking supported by the current iPad. It was also missing AirPlay, iCloud, Siri and the ability to send documents to your printer. But if the iPad is truly going to replace the PC, there are still a number of features it needs.

1. Support for Multiple Accounts

This is a pretty basic feature that would be useful for both the home and the office. Multiple account support means access to different apps based on who is signed into the device as well as access to different documents, such as photos, music and video. Support for multiple accounts would be perfect for households with more than one iPad user but only one iPad, especially if one of those users is younger.

Support for multiple accounts could be delivered in an iOS update, so no new hardware would be needed for users to enjoy the feature. The feature also doesn't open up the platform in ways that other features on this list do, and with demand for multiple accounts increasing, we may very well see this feature implemented soon.

2. True Multitasking / Multiple Apps on Screen at Once

The iOS 4.2 update added a limited form of multitasking to the iPad. And while this limited multitasking is great for listening to Pandora Radio while in another iPad app, it doesn't beat the real thing. Multitasking is especially important in a business environment, where some tasks such as large queries against a database or complex computations being run against a dataset can take a while. Staring at a working screen isn't the most productive use of time.

Multitasking will become more important as the iPad becomes more powerful and capable of taking on complex tasks. And once the iPad becomes capable of advanced tasks such as application development -- can you imagine developing an iPad app on the iPad itself? -- multitasking will become essential. Learn how to develop iPad apps.

3. Widgets

Widgets are small applications that run on the home screen or desktop. They can be great for anything from having a clock or weather app always run in the background, seeing Twitter or Facebook updates to your newsfeed without being inside those apps or simply a great place to leave a quick note to yourself.

Perhaps not as important as some of the other features on this list, the only real reason why widgets have been left off the iPad is to save battery power. Obviously, an always-running widget will drain the battery faster, but compared to what it takes to power that high-resolution "Retina Display", the widget would only need a trickle.

The Best Uses for the iPad

4. SD Card Support

No doubt, Apple prefers you buy extra storage space by purchasing the 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB version of the iPad. Expandable storage space would hurt Apple's bottom line, but without it, Apple will have difficulty conquering the PC market.

SD Card support is as much about the ease of transferring files from one device to the next as it is about expanding the storage space to plop more apps on the iPad. In fact, Apple could restrict the SD Card storage to only being for documents and it would still prove quite useful. In an office environment, it allows for collaboration beyond the cloud, and on the personal level, it makes it easy to share photos and videos with family members or friends that aren't on Facebook and don't have an iPad or iPhone for Photo Stream.

SD Card support also means the ability to restore an iPad from the card rather than through the cloud or a PC. Cards could also be used as templates for setting up new iPads with a basic set of applications, a feature IT departments would really appreciate for rolling out new devices.

5. File Browser

Another basic feature that goes hand-in-hand with SD Card support is the ability to browse through files and manipulate them. While it is possible to transfer documents to your PC through iTunes, Apple has been quite stingy about giving us similar capabilities on the iPad itself. The ability to transfer documents from one app to another does open the door to certain security risks such as malaware, but it is also another essential tool if the iPad is going to grow in the workplace.

6. Pro Version

The iPad may also need a turbo-charged version if it is going to have success in the business world. There are already a number of great enterprise-capable apps on the app store, but there are also more than a few scaled-down versions. This is due to one simple fact: the iPad simply isn't as powerful as most current laptops or desktops.

A Pro version with a more powerful processor and more RAM to dedicate to applications would allow enough elbow room for fully featured office suites and advanced applications needed in the enterprise. The Pro version could also increase the screen size to 13-inches, which would in turn provide more space for a larger battery.

Honorable Mention: Removing Default Apps

While not the type of feature that would help take the iPad to the next level, one feature many people would love to see is the ability to get rid of the default apps. This would be especially nice considering the Newsstand acts as a folder and thus cannot be put into a folder and thrown into a dark corner of the iPad screen.

This wouldn't even require outright deleting of the apps. The ability to select and de-select which apps appear on the home screen within the iPad settings would allow users to get rid of them without actually getting rid of them.

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