As most of you know, the latest iPad is sort of a throwback. It reverts to the original name — it’s evidently considered to be a fifth generation model — and uses an older form factor. So instead of the one utilized by the iPad Air 2, it reverts to the slightly thicker and heavier iPad Air design. More than likely, the difference won’t be that noticeable unless you place them side by side, but still…
One excuse is that the new model uses an A9 processor, instead of the A8X installed in the iPad Air 2, which was released in 2014. Thus it allegedly runs hotter and maybe requires a thicker case to better circulate the heat? If that’s true, how does one explain the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which uses the iPad Air 2 case? It contains an A9X chip, meaning it’s faster than the A9. Hotter? I wouldn’t say, except that I haven’t read that many reports of overheated iPads. But it does raise suspicions about the presumed logic behind the change.
It’s not that Apple is going to tell us, right?
Now it may well be that it costs just a wee bit less to use the older form factor, and thus Apple is saving money and passing that savings onto us. I’ll go with that, although I can’t see whether it would be more than a few dollars. The other possibility is to better differentiate this “mainstream” iPad from the iPad Pro.
Now I suppose that Apple could be asked to explain the reasoning behind this decision. Maybe it’ll make perfect sense if they were to say something, anything. But that will probably never happen. For some reason, the media, when granted the opportunity to interview an Apple executive, never seems to ask questions such as this one. Or maybe Apple is putting so many restrictions on what the media can ask that we’ll just have to speculate.
Or maybe it’s not worth the bother. I’ll go with that.
Now it appears that Wall Street has recovered from its initial shock about subpar iPad upgrades. After dropping a point or two, the stock price was rising again as of Tuesday. Perhaps investors have come to realize that we’re barely three months into the year, and Apple has plenty of time to deliver more compelling upgrades across its product lines. Perhaps the first iPad refresh was done to get some new product into the channel before the quarter ended, and concentrate on the rest for the second quarter and beyond.
Or perhaps this lower-cost product is critical in helping to improve on Apple’s declining share in the educational market.
So will there be a 10.5-inch iPad Pro with an edge-to-edge display, as rumored? If that’s the case, would it make sense to keep the existing model in the lineup in refreshed form, or sell it for less? That would be in keeping with Apple’s previous practice. At least the iPad’s somewhat confusing lineup of current and back catalog has been simplified, so maybe Apple has prepared us for something better.
Besides, it’s not as if Apple has given up on iPad promotion. I was watching the streaming version of one of The CW’s super hero shows this afternoon and, among the ads were one or two featuring the iPad. Apple was touting the models offering a cellular connection. But you’d still have to justify paying $130 extra for the privilege regardless of model.
There are also published reports that code discovered in the dark recesses of the forthcoming iOS 10.3 update may allow for more flexible use of the Apple Pencil with higher refresh rates. Or perhaps there’s a new model under development; an Apple Pencil 2?
Indeed, it also points to one of the best things Apple can do to address the iPad’s productivity limits. Having True Tone displays with a wider color gamut, more CPU power and cameras that more closely match those in the latest iPhones will help a little. At the end of the day, however, the main issue is the OS. Most the things that keep me from using an iPad for productivity can be laid on iOS and its multitasking limitations.
After all, if you’re going to run productivity apps on some sort of PC replacement or successor, you’ll no doubt want to be able to easily switch among several apps and different documents. The multitasking constraints in iOS 10 don’t make that terribly easy. And what about managing and merging multiple assets or files as you can with a traditional PC, and being able to flexibly upload them to places other than iCloud and similar services?
Some might argue that the iPad — and the iPhone for that matter — shouldn’t offer multitasking that mimics what’s offered on a Mac. Apple should be taking you “beyond” the PC with a more modern, flexible environment. But there are still tasks that people expect to accomplish on this new-fangled machine if they want to give up their Macs and Windows boxes.
Right, there are certain tasks that remain the province of the “truck.” But even if the iPad is the “car,” it’s still far short of the capabilities it needs. Apple doesn’t have to mirror macOS in making the iPad more productive. Surely the OS architects at Apple can devise innovative ways to expand your opportunities to be creative without repeating the PC-oriented ways of doing things. Aren’t there better solutions?
Once iOS offers additional productivity features, I sure there are app developers who will be only too happy to take advantage of those features.
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