Today was a great day for technology buffs. We got to see Apple’s newest tablets, and we were pretty impressed overall. The iPad finally joined its laptop siblings in the Air family, shed a few ounces, and got an even sexier physique; and the iPad Mini finally got the Retina display that the original version should have come with. But hey, I’m Joe the Android Guy, and all this is “Apple-y” stuff, what am I doing chiming in? Luckily for all of us in “the other camp”, Apple didn’t include everything they could have — or arguably should have — which means Android OEMs have a clear map of where they need to go to one-up Apple’s tablets. Here’s what’s missing from the iPad announcements.
Love it or hate it, TouchID is just cool. Yes, there may be reasons why you might not want to use your finger to secure your device, but most of the time, this very simple method of unlocking your device and paying for items adds quite a bit of security without adding much (if any) inconvenience.
Various OEMs have tried fingerprint scanners before, from laptops and even Pocket PCs, and more recently a horrible implementation on the HTC One max. Apple has once again shown the world how to do something “right”, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the pack catches up.
Ironically, neither the iPad Air nor the new iPad Mini include TouchID. I hate to be a downer, but like the Retina Display that was omitted from the original iPad Mini, I guess Apple had to leave “just one more thing” for you to buy next year.
No 802.11ac support
802.11ac, in case you don’t know, is the latest in WiFi standards. It’s not exactly “new”, but it’s not widely supported yet. Device makers aren’t racing to include a new radio and stack in their hardware when customers aren’t likely to have 802.11ac compatible routers or Wireless Access Points in their homes and offices.
Similarly, manufacturers of networking hardware can’t sell higher-priced products that include the 802.11ac standard when there are so few devices that support it.
I know, lots of you are rolling your eyes right now (including the guy who looks a lot like Michael Fisher). After all, in a world with HSPA+ and LTE, why should you care about 802.11ac?
Most of the time, WiFi is travelling over the 2.4GHz spectrum. It’s getting pretty crowded there and the noise floor is getting higher and higher. 802.11ac is pushing us towards 5GHz, which is substantially quieter. Quieter means “less noisy”, and “less noisy” means higher data rates and better throughput. There are a host of other reasons, but let’s just say that you should care about 802.11ac, okay?
The iPhone just got colorful! Well, one of them did. The iPhone 5C finally answered what many were wanting: a colorful device without having to throw a case on it. Most people I know immediately go out and wrap their phones in some kind of protective cover, so perhaps bold colors are just a fad. Time will tell.
However, the iPhone 5S came in a new color and a variation of an old color. Why didn’t the new iPads get the same treatment? Are people more prone to wrapping their tablets in protective gear than they are to put a case on their phone? Or is this another “feature” that we’ll get with the “next” iPads?
Who’s to say. I’m just glad Apple kept the iPad’s uni-body construction.
Better battery life
You know what they say, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward”. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we got as far as battery capacity is concerned.
Instead of increasing the amount of time we can spend using our new iPads, we didn’t get any increase at all. Sure, it didn’t get any worse, but we were still hoping for some kind of improvement.
Honestly, ask anyone, “hey, you don’t need any more run time on your tablet, right?” or “you like being tethered to an electrical outlet, don’t you?” Their answers will almost universally be “yes” to the former and “no” to the latter. Can you blame them?
Sure, I’m being critical here, but not improving the battery life is admitting defeat — either that or it’s ending a message to consumers that all that other stuff was somehow more important than making their tablet last longer.
Improved rear-facing cameras
First of all, unless you’re an insurance claim adjuster, you shouldn’t be taking pictures with your iPad. You look goofy.
Apparently Apple thinks so, too. Otherwise they would have upped the quality of the rear-facing camera. The iPhone 5S is 8MP, the iPhone 5C is 8MP. The high-end iPad Air? 5MP.
Yup. Even in a much larger package than your iPhone, Apple decided you should only be able to take 5MP pictures. Part of me wonders Apple didn’t reduce this to discourage people from looking like “that guy”.
More accessible pricing
I don’t think I can say it any better than Pocketnow’s own Taylor Martin when he compared the pricing of the new iPad Mini to the Nexus 7. To sum up his findings, the 32GB Retina Display iPad costs US$499, compared to the 2013 Nexus 7’s price tag of $269. Yes, folks, you could basically buy two Nexus 7s for the same price as an equivalent iPad Mini.
Where Google seems to be lowering the price of its hardware, Apple seems to be doing just the opposite. I’m not saying that Apple should get into a battle to see “who can sell their products for the lowest price”, but even a $100 premium over the competition would seem to be more than enough. To gouge people for almost twice the money for virtually the same device, well, let’s just say I’m not a fan and leave it at that.
I know this could be interpreted as digging on Apple. I’m not. Instead I’m voicing my observations about where Apple left the door open for its competition to come in and steal the show.
We now know what flagship products Apple has to offer for the year, and we also have a pretty good idea of where it’s going next. Now it’s up to every other OEM to learn from Apple’s line up, and show us they can do better.