More iPad rumors, and a dip into the mailbag

Sections: Features, iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Opinions and Editorials, Originals

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The rumor mills are doing a good job this spring of persuading me to push back my iPad upgrade to later in the year. Especially when they are informed by analysts whose insider sources have a good track record of accurate predictions.

Such is the case with KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, cited by MacRumors and others last week saying in a note to investors that Apple will introduce upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini models in 2014/Q3, meaning the release time could theoretically be as early as July or as late as the end of September. “We think the upgraded iPad Air will be launched earlier in 2014 than the iPad Air was [October 22] in 2013,” Mr. Kuo wrote, backpedaling on an earlier projection that the iPad mini 3 upgrade would skip 2014 in order for Apple to focus on the reinvigorated 9.7-inch iPad. “We previously thought Apple would not release a new version of the iPad mini this year, but we now think Apple will launch an upgraded version with same form factor,” MacRumors reports Mr. Kuo affirming.

iPad Air and iPad mini

Kuo now suggests the mini 3 will get some crucial design corrections (unspecified) addressing reasons the Retina iPad mini 2 has “proved unpopular among consumers,” but maintains that the biggest iPad changes coming this year will include Touch ID, an A8 processor, and an improved camera with a resolution of eight megapixels for the iPad Air 2, and an A8 processor and Touch ID, (what, no camera upgrade?) but the same form factor for the mini. The late 2013 second-generation iPad mini with Retina display will possibly replace the A5 powered original non-Retina mini as the entry-level small iPad. Mr. Kuo also believes Apple is working on a 12.9-inch iPad, but doesn’t expect it to launch until 2015.

I could live happily without Touch ID, but would come down with acute buyer’s remorse if I missed out on the higher resolution camera by a couple of months. I don’t disparage iPad photography the way some folks do. I frequently have the iPad handy when I’m not packing a camera, and would have lost valued shots without it. It’s also a solution for getting photos into the iPad—and, by extension, my Macs—without a hard-wired image download.

iPad mini

The only feature I’ve really found disappointing about my iPad 2 has been the poky 2 MP camera. It’s better than the original iPad having no camera, but only just, and while the 5 MP camera in the current iPads is much more respectable, an 8 MP unit is worth waiting a few months more for, provided Mr. Kuo’s prediction is correct.

iPad Pro: Multitasking At Last?

Macworld UK’s Ashleigh Allsopp has a feature with some interesting speculation from Ramotion, including concept illustrations about the iPad Pro here.

Allsopp reports that one of the most intriguing iPad Pro rumors proposed by Ramotion is that it could have the ability to multitask between two apps side by side. “In the horizontal orientation you can work directly with two applications as if you put two iPad minis next to each other,” the firm says. “Intuitive gestures make your work much more pleasant and efficient!” That it would, and I really hope this particular speculation is accurate. Lack of multi-windowing has been one of my biggest grievances about working on the iPad. However multiwindow may be an iOS feature that will be unique to the iPad Pro, which for me would be more of a laptop substitute, and I have a five month old MacBook Air that I expect to be my anchor machine for at least three years. Of course, it would be wonderful if Apple deigned it to support multiwindow multitasking on the smaller iPads as well.

iPad Mailbag

My iPad upgrade ruminations in a couple of recent blogs generated some interesting responses from readers.

Bill observes: “It is just crazy how far behind the iPads are with their keyboards. I can’t imagine typing without swipe functionality,” and says he would go with the mini rather than an iPad Air since it is, in his estimation, much better ergonomically.

iPad mini

I’m leaning toward a mini myself at this point, but if the mini 3 doesn’t get an 8 MP camera and the Air does, that would be a deciding factor for me.

“Lynch” wrote: “Like you, I was sitting at the crossroads…iPad mini with Retina or iPad Air. Finally decided on the Air but still, do I act now or later and lastly, 32 gig or 64 gig? If a refresh is coming this summer then I should wait, if no refresh until October then I want to act now. If the refresh adds some decent features (touch ID, A8) at about the same price as the first-gen iPad Air, then again, it’s probably worth the wait. If the current Air price remains the same and the gen 2 Air is another $100 then conversely I should just buy gen 1 right now. Think your plan to await WWDC is sounds logical….gotta be a little more info by then”

I agree, and can patiently (sort of) wait at least that long.

Dave says his seven decades old pair of eyes convinced him to choose the iPad Air. A point well taken, and one I’ll be carefully considering. Eyestrain has not been a problem for me with the 1024 x 768 panel in the iPad 2, and I’m hoping that a Retina display iPad mini would be no worse.

Adrian says he liked all the ideas in the column, but thinks USB 3 would be a must at this point. I agree in principle that real USB connectivity in the iPad would be great, but unhappily I’m doubtful that it’s on the agenda, even for the iPad Pro. I would love to be found mistaken about that.

iPad mini

In the same vein, Dale thinks adding the ability to connect a memory card to the iPad port and download pictures to the memory card instead of to having to download to a computer would be great.

Me too, and I think a memory card slot is a higher likelihood than USB, again with the iPad Pro especially.

Ben contends the best thing Apple could do for the iPad line is to incorporate cell radios into all of them.

“After all,” he says, “how much could 4G/LTE circuits really cost if they are in every phone offered these days, even the bargain models? And an always-connected iPad, even if it only came with something like T-Mobile’s free 200mb, would have clear benefits. They could continue to offer wi-fi only models to volume customers like schools, but why not reduce the number of SKUs for retail customers, or even offer models with other differentiators (such as a mini with a premium camera).”

My iPad is a WiFi model, and my next one will be also. There have been a few occasions where 4G/LTE would’ve been handy, but not often enough for me to justify the extra up-front cost and the ongoing cost of a data plan. I guess we can assume that Apple inflates the price-premium it charges for the 4G/LTE models like it does RAM prices on Macs, and could roll back prices, but as long as sales don’t tail off they have little incentive to do so.

Thanks all for sharing your thoughts and insights.

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