Accessory makers planning for similarly sized iPad 3

The launch of the new iPad will also bring a slew of new accessory announcements, many of which may not actually be so new.

Cases with a little play to them like the $20 CaseCrown Standby should be able to accommodate the next iPad so long as Apple doesn't pull a big design surprise. Amazon

In preparation for Wednesday's launch of Apple's next-generation iPad, CNET's been contacted by a few accessory manufacturers gearing up to release "new" products that will work with the iPad 3--or whatever it's called.

Those quotation marks around "new" are there because it appears that while all the new accessories announced out of the gate will be billed as iPad 3 accessories, they'll also work just fine with the iPad 2.

Three different company reps said they expected the next iPad to be similarly sized and that there would be only minor changes to the thickness of the device. While no one was 100 percent certain of that (one rep said, "We've been told there will be some minor changes in the thickness, but we don't have any specifics.") these companies have enough confidence in their belief--and perhaps their sources--to stick with the iPad 2 as a stand-in for the next iPad.

In other words, most of the accessories you see announced Wednesday will probably be iPad 2 cases that aren't totally form-fitting and have a little play to them. Think of cases that have leather or faux leather frames (or cases made of other pliable materials). Also, you'll see some sleeves that are designed to fit any of the larger tablets.

Of course, Apple could always move a button, speaker, camera, or light sensor slightly, and create a big problem for case manufacturers. This happened with the iPhone 4S when Apple moved the ambient light sensor a few millimeters and many tough cases (that covered the front of the iPhone) had to be altered slightly to account for the change.

I suspect Apple will release some sort of new case or cases at launch (rumor has it that a new Smart Case is in the works but that the old one will work with the next iPad), but few, if any, true third-party iPad 3 cases will be available. Either way, we'll know soon enough.

For a preview of some cases that should work with the next iPad, you can always have a look at our roundup of iPad 2 cases below.

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