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An iPad Rear Camera: Practical or Impractical?

Earlier today we learned some Chinese accessory makers are already producing cases for an alleged “iPad 2”. Those cases clearly show a hole in the upper left corner for a rear-facing camera in the next iteration of Apple’s tablet.

“A rear-facing camera? On the iPad? How are you supposed to take pictures holding the iPad like a camera?” These are the questions going around today, the same we heard when the iPad was first unveiled and, well, lacked a camera.

iLounge posted a follow-up to their iPad 2 case story, with some predictions / hope about a possible rear camera in the iPad 2:

One thing that Apple really enjoys doing, particularly when adding a new feature to an established product, is rethinking things that competitors have attempted and gotten wrong.
[…]
Picture the iPad in an advertisement looking out at a landscape, snapping a picture, and having the landscape appear on the iPad’s screen looking just like what your eyes were seeing. Or taking a picture of a group of people, then becoming the picture frame for the family photo. It sounds so simple, but with the lens on the back of the Galaxy Tab (or, say, the iPod touch) right now, that’s not happening.

That sounds intriguing: an iPad with a wider lens that enables you to take bigger pictures. A lens that would grant high-quality results, with a resolution specifically made for the iPad. Something that the current generation of alternative Android tablets doesn’t offer.

Just think about the possibilities of apps made for the iPad’s camera.

That sounds exciting to me – but what do I know, I’m no lens expert. My only problem with this theory of an iPad 2 with a rear-facing camera is simple: I think it would feel awkward to hold up an iPad to snap a picture. Not as awkward as touching the iPhone felt in 2007, when basically no one in Italy had the iPhone. It would be simply weird to hold up an iPad and ask people to look at it. Not to mention how weird it would be to see someone else walking around with an iPad raised above his chest in landscape mode.

Imagine someone holding an iPad above his head to take a picture of the beautiful clouds in the sky.

So either I’m missing something here, or the iPad isn’t really meant to be a camera. Great for video calling (I can’t wait to use FaceTime on it) – but leave the photographs to the iPhone, please.

It is also true, though, that it would be convenient to be able to not switch devices and shoot pictures directly on the iPad. Right now, if you’re using Twitter for iPad and you want to share a picture of something around you, you’re forced to pick up the iPhone, use its camera and upload with another app. A camera on the iPad would fix that – but I guess it’s all about context. It’d be cool to shoot a picture of what you’re having for breakfast (yes, people are still doing that), but I just can’t see it a viable option in, say, crowded and public places. Again, it all depends on the context and the kind of picture you need from the device.

All things considered, basing on my pure imagination of a future iPad carrying a camera in its back, I don’t think I’d be able to go and shoot photos around with it. Maybe Jobs will announce an iPad 2 with a rear camera and the world will love it. But right now, I still think the iPhone is the best camera I ever had.

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