updated 03:15 pm EST, Wed January 19, 2011
Cases could shut iPad off automatically
The next-generation iPad could include a means of automatically locking or unlocking the system based on the presence of a case lid, the iOS 4.3 beta reportedly indicates. Buried in code for the Settings app are noted to be two unusual strings, "PAD_CASE_LOCK" and "PAD_CASE_LOCK_FOOTER." The value description for the former simply says "iPad Cover Lock / Unlock," while the latter's reads "Automatically lock and unlock your iPad when you close and open the iPad cover."
The data suggests that the next iPad could use some sort of proximity detection, presumably in the form of an added rather than existing sensor. It could also potentially remove the need for the "slide to unlock" command, which prevents people from accidentally tapping app icons, but which also slows down access to the homescreen. More uncertain in the situation though is the kind of case Apple is referring to; the company would have to either bundle or build one in, or else count on support from third-party accessory makers.
Leaks have so far shown no evidence that the second-gen iPad will have a built-in case. Apple may also be unlikely to bundle one, in part because it would do damage to the industry for Apple accessories. The company has generally eschewed including cases with its products, whether computers or handhelds.