At the time of this update, we're about 6 months away from the release of what is expected to be known as the iPad Air 2. And since we're half a year into the iPad Air proper's life cycle, it's worth asking: Should I just wait until the iPad Air 2 comes out?
Given that very little is known about what Apple's first iPad Air revision might entail, that's a difficult question to answer. However, what I do know is what the Cupertino company's latest tablet is missing. Read on to see whether it's worth holding out for one of these fabled features.
A touch more secure
The Touch ID sensor is probably the most obvious upgrade to the iPad Air, given that it already exists on the iPhone 5S. Plus, users simply want more protection on their iDevices, and biometric security measures are the next logical leap in that direction.
TouchID has worked to great effect on the latest iPhone – though it, like almost all protection measures, is entirely hackable. Either way, it makes sense to extend that technology to the iPad. And, if the rumors are true, that's exactly what will happen.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said in a research note obtained by AppleInsider that the iPad Air 2 will sport the TouchID sensor along with several other features. It's not the most outlandish projection to make, so it's something worth counting on.
It's time to get mousy
At the moment, this tablet connects to a wide variety of wireless speakers and keyboards via Bluetooth, but it's missing one major connection: mice. As the iPad earns more and more credibility as a productivity device, mouse support is crucial.
Frankly, touch control simply isn't accurate enough to meet the demands of users in a productivity environment. If Apple wants the iPad to truly be taken seriously as both a content consumption and creation device, then it needs to admit that touch control simply isn't able to provide that precision.
However, this would also take considerable work on the software side of the iPad Air: iOS 8. Since the beginning, iOS devices have been touch-only in terms of navigation. Apple favors a certain level of uniformity across its mobile devices. And if iPad were to receive Bluetooth mouse support, the iPhone would either follow suit or appear as if it were missing something.
More memory, maybe?
Look, it's clear that Apple has a vision for its mobile device hardware, and it's one of unfettered beauty and pristine quality. Adding an additional memory card slot would fly in the face of that vision no doubt.
But look at the App Store: it swells with more apps and games every day. Meanwhile, iTunes adds more music, movies and shows to its digital shelves on the regular. There's simply way more content than a 16GB tablet can handle.
Apple has a few options: introduce some new, easier, more useful method of wirelessly managing all of this content, double the storage space of its entry-level iPad Air 2 to 32GB or cave already and add that SD card slot. The latter alone would be reason enough to upgrade for some. Besides, hasn't flash storage grown cheap enough yet?
Real multitasking would be a boon
This is more on the software level – I'm looking at you, iOS 8 – but it's about time that a 9.7-inch tablet became capable of better multitasking. The latest iOS revision introduced a prettier version of pressing Command + Tab on a Mac. But we need something better, something more … immediate.
Running two apps simultaneously, on the same screen, is the ticket. But it has to be done right. Nearly 10 inches is a lot of real estate for one app, but halving it for two apps at once could present some issues in legibility. TechRadar contributor Hollin Jones proposes an interesting approach:
"Ideally it would be contextual or even Siri-driven, allowing you to be working on a spreadsheet or watching a movie and say 'Siri, is my train delayed?' and have what you were doing staying front and center with the information subtly popping up."
And, according to the latest report from 9to5Mac, the next major iOS version update will introduce such a feature. Reportedly, Apple will introduce tools that will allow apps to speak with one another, allowing users to move content between apps, in iOS 8.
So, which is it?
If some of these features actually make it into the next iPad, it might be worth the wait. Plus, the new iPad will undoubtedly pack a new processor, camera and other bullet-list features that will only improve upon one of the few tablets to earn our Editor's Choice award.
Ultimately, it depends on which generation iPad you currently own, if you're with one at all. Say you're rocking the old school iPad 2, or worse, nothing at all: buying an iPad Air right now could be an amazing experience for you.
If you just picked up an iPad 4 before the latest came out last year, you'd still be hopping into an all-new design if you grabbed the latest iPad right now, not to mention a huge leap in performance. However, the fourth generation Apple tablet will still be more than capable for another year or two (or more).
Contributed by Joe Osborne