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iPad Mini: Who is it for and why does it exist?

Sections: Apple App Store, Developers, Features, Game-Companies, Handhelds, Indie, iPhone & iPod Touch & iPad, Opinions, Originals, Publishers

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I’ve been struggling with the idea of a “mini” version of the iPad ever since the first rumor surfaced. Why does Apple feel the need to introduce such a device and disrupt the market that they currently are doing so well in by introducing another device?

As someone who actually uses their iPad for comic and manga reading, games, and web browsing, seeing the iPad Mini finally unveiled was a tad bit underwhelming. The Mini has my iPad’s processor but omits the retina resolution in favor of a sleek and slim profile sans that giant bezel on the sides. I’ll admit it: The iPad Mini is an incredible looking device. But why does it exist? What purpose does it serve that the original idea of the iPad didn’t?

At Apple’s event, the company took stage and compared the Mini to the Nexus 7. They touted how other companies have failed to provide a great user experience on these devices and the truth is, so has Apple.

This isn’t a knock on iOS so please put down the pitchforks and save them for another article. It’s a knock on the fact that the iPad Mini isn’t a 7in. device; it’s an 8in device (to be fair, the Nexus 7 is roughly 8 in. as well). Hence why I wonder why this device exists. It’s only a two-inch haircut from the 9.7 in. iPad dimension. It’s not exactly “Mini” wich is why I’ve been formulating the theory that the 9.7 iPad may go the way of the Dodo soon. 7.9 vs. 9.7 – which would you choose?

Speaking of choosing, if you haven’t yet read Jeremy’s article on whether or not the iPad Mini is worth your cash, he pretty much sums up my thoughts on who should and shouldn’t buy the “Mini” with the caveat of that person who is just looking for a little more portability.

That said, what about us tech nerds?

Chances are the techies amongst us already have some sort of iPad, so why would you want or need the iPad “Mini?” From asking around, it seems to come down to an answer of portability. The iPad 2′s screen didn’t look bad at all and, honestly, at first I didn’t notice the Retina enhancements until apps started updating. That said, the iPad Mini has the advantage of crushing together those pixels, so, while not exactly Retina quality, the screen should still look pretty good. Whether or not it’s enough to sway us tech nerds remains uncertain until the device is in our hands.

What if you’re a developer?

Developers seem to be unfazed by the drop in screen resolution. In fact, they welcome it as something that will bring a new opportunity to them, that is, if the developer built their apps in a certain way. In an interview with The Verge, a few developers revealed their thoughts on the iPad Mini with a basic summation being this: If the developer designed their app the right way, following Apple’s guidelines and keeping the screen less busy then your app will work fine on the iPad Mini. If not, then you may be in trouble.

What about those iOS gamers?

This is where I become both interested and concerned. As someone who finds playing games on the iPhone a bit too awkward the iPad always has been the more enjoyable experience but still awkward due to the size of the device. The shaving of two-inches may be the sweet spot for portability but what about handling? Gamers and developers seem optimistic about it saying that the smaller size and weight will not only help with comfort but also with using AirPlay.

What about game developers?

What separates a games developer from an ordinary app developer on iOS? There’s a lot more going on within a game than there is with a news, weather or finance (you can make an argument for this one) app. The UIs of a game can have a lot going on, from a HUD display featuring a character’s name, experience amount, an item slot, weapon slot, skill slot, not to mention a pretty image that catches the players eye. This all has to be re-scaled downwards. That’s time and money that a smaller company may not have.

In an interview with Polygon on this very subject, Melvin Samuel of Halfbot said this:

“One of the great things about developing for iOS early on was that you could make a build once, send it out and it worked. Now to satisfy all iOS customers you essentially tied to creating a game that runs on multiple processors and with 5 different resolutions. This makes developing for iOS harder than it has ever been and more costly due to the time it takes to make it all run smoothly across the board. Small developers like ourselves have to draw a line in the sand and stop supporting certain devices. That’s unfortunate because we are loosing some great customers because we are being spread so thin.”

At $329 for 16GBs, Apple is getting premium with the price. It’s an iPad 2’s screen with an iPad 3’s guts inside a more portable iPad shell. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of the consumer device world. Only, you would bring this monster home to meet the parents.

To buy or not to buy?

That’s a question only you and your wallet can answer. I already pointed you to Jeremy’s article, which answers this question, and I’ve offered up more examples of groups and how they see the new iOS device. If you’re unsure about the $329 price tag, there’s always the 16GB Nexus 7 for $250 or the 16GB Kindle Fire HD for $214.

Also Read [GamerTell] [The Verge]

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