The iPad Air 2 Is As Good As An iPad Can Be, But What’s Next?

Today, Apple announced the iPad Air 2, and while it was mostly what we expected that doesn’t take away from all that’s included. This is a substantial update from Apple providing a thinner design, faster processor, improved camera, anti-reflective display, and TouchID. In all honesty, this is really as much as Apple can do hardware wise with the iPad line. We can always wait for thinner, faster, lighter, but there’s not much more room to maneuver to improve iPad hardware. This is as good as the iPad can be, and it leaves you wondering what’s next to really enhance the device going forward.
The only distinguishers left for the iPad line really come down to software when it comes to changing usability. Apple could always go with a haptic display to provide tactile feedback to touch, but that still seems a stretch for mass production. The iPad could also potentially gain a more powerful smart cover with a built in keyboard, but the touch keyboard doesn’t seem to be a problem. In it’s current form, after six generations of refining the iPad, Apple has reached the pinnacle of what the first generation iPad can be. Now, it’s time to change what the iPad can be on the software end.

Multi-tasking was rumored as part of iOS 8.1 for the new A8X chip, and 2GB of RAM, but it never came. What’s next for the iPad comes down to enhancing its abilities to run two apps at the same time, run desktop level apps in a touch form (which Pixelmator showed quite well today), and be able to perform professional functions on the go. An iPad Pro has been rumored, but adding more screen real estate doesn’t change the usability of the iPad, and it needs to be able to do more. Even now, you can’t even really publish with WordPress, which is a basic menial task, but it’s a good example of the limits of iPad productivity on the go. Apple did a good job with iOS 8 to offer iCloud drive, app extensions, and Continuity/Handoff to let the iPad have more capabilities in your workflow, but it’s just the beginning. The iPad isn’t its own sandbox any more, and now it’s time to build upon the base to have more software capabilities.
Another problem the iPad is running into is from Apple itself as the iPhone 6 Plus is starting to border on some of the capabilities of the iPad. That doesn’t even take into account the iPad mini, which is emphasizing the iPad line as media consumption to watch videos, play games, and read news/books. The iPad has greater potential with a multi-touch canvas, but right now they have left the capabilities as is for a number of years. We have seen new form factors, but the 9.7” hasn’t offered any specific extras beyond a bigger screen to watch, play, or read. The 5.5” 6 Plus, and 7.9” mini can fill those niches, and the 9.7” now needs its own niche. The A8X chip is getting to the point that the 9.7” iPad is getting closer to the Macbook Air in raw power, but is still running the same one at a time apps that are watered down from their desktop counterparts. The entire 2014 iPad event was a bit understated as Apple is still refining a five year old device, rather than building upon it for the next stage. Now that the iPad Air 2 exists, it’s a great device, but needs to be the last of the current iPad progression, and set the stage for the next evolution to really do more with the touch friendly interface.

The iPad Air 2 has refined the original 2010 iPad as much as possible, and now it’s time for the next evolution to set the iPad up for the next five years positioned as an all new product.


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