This morning we reported on a couple new patents which revealed some realistic new features that may someday arrive for the iPad. On one of the patent images we posted (pictured below) there is a circle-shaped hole on the top of the iPad. This hole is identical to the one seen on the current iPod touch with a front-facing camera and this led to several comments, tweets, and email calling us out for not mentioning the “camera”.
We personally did notice this “camera hole” but didn’t give it a mention as it’s most likely the iPad’s ambient light sensor. If you recall, there was some controversy after the iPad’s announcement when people believed that the iPad Steve Job’s showed off at the keynote had an unmentioned camera, when iPad replacement parts emerged with MacBook-like camera holes, and when we revealed some camera evidence in the iPad SDK (here and here).
In the end, the camera evidence most likely was some left over code when Apple was simultaneously developing the iPhone 4 and iPad, and those “camera holes” turned out to be spots for the ambient light sensor. Because of these we held back on saying that hole is a camera. On the other hand, Apple does not normally include that ambient light sensor hole on their patents as shown here, and here.
So in the end it is really a tossup. That hole could be an upcoming front-facing camera for the iPad or could simply be that ambient light sensor. We think it’s the sensor but let us know what you think in the comments.