Contrary to the chatter from various naysayers (you know you are!), I still haven’t bought an iPad Pro.
I actually saw one in the wild the other day, when one of the students I was teaching pulled one out of her bag. She took notes on it throughout the seminar, but I couldn’t help noticing how awkward it looked, balancing on her lap. The screen was absolutely gorgeous, though.
Anyway, I’m now very glad I didn’t opt for the iPad Pro, as rumours point to a new Apple device which has me drooling. It’s an iPad Pro Mini.
Actually, no. It’s not. It’s an iPad Air 3, which is basically an iPad Pro Mini. Rumours (I want to emphasise that word) point to iPad Pro-like functionality in the new Air, including four front-facing speakers, the new iPad Pro smart connector and ability to use the Apple Pencil. So, lots of the advantages of the iPad Pro without the drawback of its mammoth footprint.
I’ve been using my iPad Air 2 a lot lately. It’s so light and super-productive when paired with the Logitech bluetooth keyboard. At the weekend, it’s how I write everything from blog posts to journal entries. Thinking back to my very first iPad, it’s almost a different class of device in terms of speed, weight and OS.
So what’s so special about the rumoured iPad Air 3?
Having Apple Pencil functionality would increase its creative potential, but also make it more like a hi-tech notepad. I’ve looked at lots of YouTube videos of people using the Apple Pencil for both drawing and writing and it’s truly impressive in terms of accuracy.
In my own brief uses of the Pencil, in Apple Stores, I think it’s interesting that I didn’t try to draw a thing. Instead, I wrote on it – a preview of how I’d see myself using an electronic stylus like this.
Before every blog post I write, or every article, proposal or discussions document at work, I start with a mind-map. It helps me empty my mind of all the points I want to make and then I can organise them into some semblance of logical order.
It’s something I’ve done for years and I find it really helpful. So, using Apple Pencil on an iPad would mean these mind-maps would be electronic immediately (removing the need to scan a paper one) and shareable with colleagues.
A faster chipset and more RAM (again, rumours) would be very welcome, as would the additional speakers. When I travel for business – which is quite regularly – my iPad Air 2 tends to be used as my personal entertainment system in my hotel room.
Podcasts and music while I’m doing something else, movies and TV shows while I’m in bed or on a flight. Improved speakers would be great here, especially if it could match the sound from my Macbook, which still impresses me today.
Inclusion of the new smart connector would be great for users of physical keyboards. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the keyboard I’m using with my iPad Air 2, a keyboard interface via the smart connector removes the need to use bluetooth or charge the keyboard. It derives its power directly from the iPad. So that means one less cable to carry round and no need to remember to charge the keyboard periodically. A small victory, but it makes life simpler.
So, all in all, this iPad user is excited at the prospect of a new iPad Air 3 coming next month. But how likely is it? Well, the iPad Air wasn’t updated when everyone thought it would be, when the iPad Pro was announced and they sneaked out the iPad Mini 4.
Plus, recent Apple financial data shows a real slowing of iPad sales. iPads don’t tend to be the kind of device that average users upgrade every year, unlike movie phones. So they need to offer a fairly significant upgrade to hardware and functionality to address declining iPad sales.
Just an iPad Pro Mini?
Turning the iPad Air 2 into what is basically a smaller version of the iPad Pro represents that kind of upgrade. If all of the above were delivered by Apple, I’d get in line to buy one. Forever relieved that I didn’t bite the bullet and go for an iPad Pro.
Obviously, I’ve stayed true to form and will find myself traveling at the exact time Apple is rumoured to be making the announcement, on March 15th. But I’ll catch up with it when I arrive at my hotel and (probably) share my excitement/disappointment/purchasing decision here.