Nearly one year to the date (last year’s event took place on October 23rd), Apple’s next big event takes place tomorrow, where the focus once again be on the iPad. It’s the time of year where rumors are confirmed or smashed and dreams of next generation technology becomes reality. The invite reads, ‘We still have a lot to cover.‘ While last month’s event was all about the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iOS 7, this event is expected to reach well beyond iOS devices. Based on everything we’ve heard, here’s what you can expect from tomorrow’s event with respect to new iPads.

iPad mini 2

Fifth Generation iPad Gets A Mini Makeover

The exterior design of the iPad has largely remained the same since Apple starting offering a retina model with the third generation iPad. A surprisingly quick refresh in October, 2012 left us with a faster, more capable iPad 4, with the appearance and weight remaining virtually the same as the previous generation.

iPad 5

Early this year, back shell casings appeared to show a new iPad that mirrored the design of the iPad mini. To make this happen, Apple could be shifting from a glass touch panel to film based, according to an August report from the Wall Street Journal. This should enable Apple to make the 9.7-inch iPad significantly thinner.

Keeping the same screen size, Apple will borrow from the design of the iPad mini, making the left and right bezels much smaller. Again, a move to further reduce the overall size of the device.

When Apple moved to a retina display, it lost the svelte dimensions of the iPad 2. Pushing that many pixels has battery life costs, often resulting in a thicker device. There are battery life challenges when you start reducing the size of any device. Recent rumors suggest Apple will power the new iPad 5 with a new  A7X processor, a 64-bit processor that offers desktop class performance.

The camera should also see a bump to 8 megapixels with a larger aperture, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a fairly good track record on predicting new Apple products.

New Colors, Gold and Space Grey
Recent leaks show the back shell casing in Space Grey. If Apple is serious about unifying their product lines, consistency in color choices makes sense. Based upon demand for the gold iPhone 5s, it would be surprising if these color options were not available on both the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2.

iPad 5

iPad 5 Expectations: Thinner, smaller form factor. Faster A7X processor, 8-megapixel camera with larger aperture. There hasn’t been much in the way of substantiated rumors of Apple including the Touch ID. No word on if storage capacities will remain at 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB.

World’s Most Popular Tablet Gets A Seat At The Retina Table

The iPad mini is great. People absolutely love it. It accounts for two of every three iPads sold by Apple. The size, speed and app ecosystem makes it a wonderful tablet, despite its lack of a retina display. I count myself among those who left a full-sized retina display for the iPad mini. With increasing competition from Google and Amazon, both of whom released HD displays this year, a retina display on the iPad mini 2 will keep prospective customers shopping Apple and existing customers looking to upgrade. Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal indicated that a revamped second generation iPad mini will receive the high resolution retina display it so desperately deserves.

It moving to retina could mean a slight increase in weight to accommodate a larger battery, that will be needed for the increased power requirements. Recent rumors suggest Apple may skip a generation in processors, moving from the A5 that powers the first generation to an A7 or even A7X.

iPad mini 2 Expectations: Slightly larger form factor. Faster A7/A7X processor, 8 megapixel camera with larger aperture. Available in Space Grey, Gold and Silver.

Price
While the iPad 5 will continue with its pricing, a bigger question will be how Apple handles the beefed up iPad mini 2. Adding a massively capable processor and retina display is going to increase the build cost. Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, thinking out loud on Twitter, said Apple could keep the current first generation priced at $329, while boosting the price of the iPad mini 2 to $399.

Tomorrow isn’t just about iPads. Mavericks, Apple TV, updates to iWork & Life, new MacBook Pros are all possible.

Excited? What are you hoping for from Apple? Join us tomorrow for full coverage of the event and take part in the forums.  It’s going to be a fun day and we’d love for you to join our community.