Apple iPad Event: Few Surprises - InformationWeek

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03:34 PM

Apple iPad Event: Few Surprises

Apple debuted new iPads as expected, but it ignored some core products -- and the iPad Pro remains a unicorn.

Apple's Next iPads: 13 Things To Expect
Apple's Next iPads: 13 Things To Expect
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Apple's iPad event Thursday delivered the expected updates to its line of tablets and desktops. The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 offer impressive spec bumps compared to earlier models, but they don't tread any new ground. The same can be said for the new iMac, despite its 5K display. Apple revealed some good news for iPhone and iPad owners: iOS 8.1 will arrive on October 20, with bug fixes and Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment service. Further, Apple release OS X 10.10 Yosemite to everyone for free.

As is often the case, however, Apple failed to talk about a handful of important devices. Here's what Apple didn't deliver on today:

Apple TV
Apple hardly mentioned Apple TV. It did not update its beleaguered media streaming box. Apple TV hasn't received a significant upgrade since 2012. The only love the Apple TV got was from Apple VP Craig Federighi, who mentioned new features in iOS 8.1 that allow iPhone and iPad owners to stream content directly to the Apple TV without a WiFi network bridging the two. Otherwise, it's the same old Apple TV.

[Here's how Apple could improve its next OS: Mac OS X Yosemite: What's Missing?]

iPad Pro
Waiting for a 13-inch iPad to handle your heavy computing needs? Keep waiting. Apple didn't acknowledge the rumored iPad Pro today. There was some scuttlebutt suggesting the iPad Pro could run both iOS and OS X, but it didn't come to be. Last we heard, Apple delayed the iPad Pro until next year so its display partners can kick out more screens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Anyone hoping for a sneak peak of the device today was left sorely disappointed.

iPad multitasking and NFC
One thing Apple's iPads still can't do is properly multitask, or run two apps in separate windows side-by-side. There was some talk that iOS 8.1 would introduce such a feature, but it didn't show up. This is one major weakness in Apple's iOS line of smartphones and tablets that competitors (e.g., Samsung) have capitalized on.

Apple iPad Air 2
Apple iPad Air 2

The new iPads will have access to Apple Pay, but only for online payments. Neither of the new tablets comes with NFC, which means no tap-and-go payments at retail counters. That's probably not the worst loss in the world, because who really wants to use a tablet in such a way?

Retina MacBook Air
Like the iPad Pro, the touch-enabled Retina MacBook Air remains a pipe dream. This oft-rumored unicorn was expected to show itself earlier this year. When it didn't arrive during WWDC in June, some suspected it would arrive by the fall. It didn't happen. Whether or not Apple is working on such a device continues to be a mystery.

iPod Touch
Apple didn't mention the iPod Touch at all. The iPod Touch 5th Generation debuted in 2012, so it's been more than two years since Apple's dedicated media player has seen anything new. Perhaps Apple has put the product line to rest. The new $249 price point of the entry-level iPad Mini almost cements the notion.

Of course, these were all long shots anyway. Apple delivered on everything else. The iPad Air 2 is impressively thin and much more powerful than its predecessor. The iPad Mini 3 is also a major update -- at least under the hood. Apple actually surprised with a solid update to the Mac Mini, and it showed off the highest-resolution-ever Mac computer. With OS X Yosemite on the way to Macs today and iOS 8.1 headed to iPhones and iPads October 20, Apple gave most fans a little love.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2014 | 4:58:05 PM
Re: What?
What is there that's left that hasn't been done yet by somebody? Samsung has wearables, IBM has Watson, Google has Glass, Apple had the first truly user-friendly tablet and first digital music player, and Microsoft had the first commercially successfully GUI operating system. What do we as users need? What else is there? I have a portable computer in my pocket. Short of implanting that inside my body I don't see where technology can go. True 3D computing? Real-time holograms? Holographic storage? Quantum computing?

Now, if Apple comes out with a synthesizer like in Star Trek or transporters, then I would be really impressed.

User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2014 | 7:00:56 AM
Re: What?
But even the watch wasn't really innovative. Between the last two releases of the majority of their products, there wasn't anything truly new or truly innovative. Everything that's come out has already been done, and done better in some cases, by their key competitors. A "better" version of the same thing is not an innovation. That, I believe, is the true challenge with the post-Jobs Apple.
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2014 | 5:27:52 PM
Re: What?
The iPad Pro sounds like an interesting device. However, it sounds a lot like a MacBook Air with touch capabilities.

I would think that those two unicorn products would converge and be one instead of two different products.

I think this is likely why Apple has not debuted either device yet – it seems like they are doing a wait and see approach on this to keep the product lineups very basic as they are apt to do. 
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/16/2014 | 4:31:51 PM
Re: What?
So far Apple is just building upon its strengths, which look more impressive in the face of the weakess of PC sales. The real test will be the Apple Watch. If it's a hit, Apple will have demonstrated that it can branch beyond the foundations built by Steve Jobs.
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2014 | 3:54:13 PM
As Apple has now sold well over 20 million Apple TV's, it's hardly beleaguered. Sales continue to accelerate, as they tell us during their financial conferences. I believe they are preparing for the iPad Pro with the new A8x. This is surprisingly more powerful than the new A8. The A8's CPU is 25% faster than the one from the A7, and the GPU is 50% faster. But the newest chip the A8x is 40% faster in the CPU, and the GPU is 250% faster than that in the A7. My iPad Air is pretty fast, even for 3D gaming, video editing and AutoCAD 360. Another 50% speed to the graphics will add enough power to eliminate any scrolling slowdowns that occasionally occur. It just seems as though this new chip, with 3 billion transistors, a full billion more than in the A8, is overkill for the iPad Air, but not for a higher res Pro.
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