Well, my prediction early last month that the iPad Air line would be retired was half right. The name is now gone, but I thought at the time that Apple would shift to an all Pro iPad lineup this Spring. However, thanks in part to the comments of several users of non-Pro iPads, I came to see how short-sighted that opinion was, and how many potential users it would leave behind.
Thankfully, Apple is a lot smarter than I am. As such, a lower-cost tablet still endures, just with a different name and a little different shape. However, this wasn’t all that went down yesterday. Apple made a few interesting, if low key moves, and changing up the Air 2 was just one of them. Here are a few of the highlights and interesting details from yesterday’s news.
I’ve got a 64GB LTE iPad Air 2 on the way to me this Thursday or Friday, according to my Apple Order Status page. I still don’t know for sure if the iPad Air 2 will have 2GB of RAM, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and go through with the upgrade anyway. After re-reviewing all of the spec sheets and early look articles from people at Apple’s event, there are a couple of things I’m really curious about:
- Does the thinness really matter? I’m quite happy with the profile of the iPad Air as-is, but Apple has this strange obsession with making everything as thin as possible. I’d like to see if the 18% thinner body actually makes a difference for one-handed usage, as I doubt it will affect two-handed usage much. It’s also curious that this new Air 2 is about 7–8% lighter than the previous Air, but Apple didn’t feel like that was worth pointing out.
As expected, Apple unveiled the new iPad Air 2 just about an hour ago at their live special event. It is the thinnest iPad ever at just 6.1mm and said to be the world’s thinnest tablet.
The headline features for the iPad Air 2 are:
Improved Retina Display
2nd gen 64-bit A8X chip designed specifically for the iPad Air 2
New iSight and FaceTime cameras
Pretty much inline with the latest rumors we’d heard about the new iPad Air, including the name.
Pre-orders start tomorrow for the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, and shipping begins next week.
With Apple’s iPad + Mac special event on October 16 fast approaching, last minute leaks and speculation are increasing pace as expected.
Over the weekend, photos emerged that are said to show clear evidence of a Touch ID button for the new iPad Air 2 (or whatever name Apple gives the next gen of the iPad Air) and for an enhanced graphics chip, the A8X.
MacRumors has details on the photos and they don’t seem to be classing them as fake right now.
Apple.club.tw (Google Translate) has shared new images that appear to show a variety of components from the iPad Air 2, which include pictures of the logic board, home button flex cable, front panel, and volume control flex cable.
The home button flex cable appears to contain a space for a Touch ID home button, complete with the stainless steel ring.
Now all we need is a photo showing that the new iPad Air carries 8GB of RAM.
One of the things I missed, back when I owned an iPad mini, was having enough space to draw comfortably. Even with the great zoom integration on the Paper app, the mini still felt a little too cramped to really get anything done; so I told myself a few months ago that one of the things I really wanted to try on an iPad Air was to draw a little more often.
I’m not an artist, but as I’ve become more immersed in the world of product design over the past few years, I’ve really wanted to make a go of designing something myself. I started making a few leather gadget accessories last winter, and the ideas for these items were initially stored in a little pocket notebook. It’s a lovely little thing to keep around, but I found I didn’t use it every time inspiration struck, simply because it didn’t feel like the most natural tool to use. My iPhone and my iPad are always on-hand, but it’s things like paper notebooks that I tend to forget in my bag, or at my desk at home.
So one thing I’m proud to share is that the iPad, paired with the unbelievably awesome Paper app, has become my sketchpad over the last few months. Infinite easy erasure and an unlimited number of pages have helped me bring my own little designs to life. I’ve been using the Jot Pro and Jot Script styli, and the whole process of drawing on a screen is feeling more and more natural with every passing day. It’s really an amazing feeling to store and create designs on a device I’m already committed to carrying with me everywhere. It feels like bonus functionality.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the iPad has enabled me to do something I couldn’t do before. Pen and paper have always been around, and I’ve been curious about design for quite a while now. However, I think it’s fair to credit the iPad and Paper with making design — which was once a very daunting prospect — into something approachable, and incredibly fun, especially for a bright-eyed newbie like myself. I feel like I’m getting optimal use out of this tablet purchase, without forcing it to do things that just aren’t comfortable enough to do on a tablet. I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve been having while drawing on the iPad Air.
I’ve had about two months with the an LTE iPad Air now, and I’m really glad I opted for the cellular option this time around. I’ve always wondered about the kind of difference a cellular option would make, but it wasn’t until this year that I decided to make the investment. As it turns out, I’m really glad that I did. The freedom that a cellular connection provides makes the iPad feel immediately accessible, in a way that tethering to my iPhone never really did.
I have a 6GB data plan for my iPhone with Koodo, but I don’t tether much any more because Koodo’s network speeds are sub-par (2.5 Mbps down around Queen & Shaw) and iOS tethering is still too finnicky for reliable usage. The Wi-Fi hotspot on my iPhone 5S often takes half a minute to show up on the iPad, and Bluetooth tethering is just too miserably slow to use, even for surfing.
My 32GB Air is my first taste of what a cellular iPad is like, and I’m really enjoying the freedom that comes with being able to use the iPad anywhere. I actually have a 6GB smartphone plan that allows me to tether, but the Personal Hotspot on iOS just isn’t that convenient to use, so I decided to sign up for a month-to-month iPad data plan with Rogers (which offers the fastest LTE speeds in Toronto). Unfortunately, the way that Rogers’ tablet plans are tiered just doesn’t work for me.
I currently spend my days as an executive assistant, juggling my own set of deadlines, and then managing the calendar and upcoming tasks for my boss. My job provides me with a laptop for work purposes, but it’s so heavy and slow that I’ve always felt artificially anchored to my desk because of it.
I’ve recently started bringing an iPad Air in to work to complement my laptop. I use the tablet for quick schedule checks, quick note-taking sessions, and as a third screen for displaying tasks, and I’m really loving the setup. I can’t believe how useful the iPad is turning out to be at work.
The Apple online store currently has iPad Air refurbished models available at nearly $100 off. Here’s the details:
— The iPad Air 16GB WiFi refurbished model is available at $419 – $80 less than the new price.
— The iPad Air 32GB WiFi refurb model is an even better deal. It’s priced at $509, which is $90 less than the new price.
— There are also 64GB and 128GB iPad Air models shown on the refurbished page – at over $100 off their new prices – but those are both listed as out of stock right now.
Apple’s refurbished iPads come with the same 1 year warranty as a new iPad, and with a new battery and outer shell and all the same accessories as new models. I’ve bought refurbished mobile devices from Apple in the past and had just as good an experience as with brand new products.
If you’re after a good price on a very nearly new iPad Air, it’s well worth taking a look at the Apple refurbished pages for them.
Pad & Quill are makers of a number of lovely, handcrafted cases for iPads and other mobile devices. They’re one of my favorite iPad accessory vendors and they’ve got a great looking lineup of new cases for the iPad Air.
They’ve got 7 new cases for the iPad Air – including the particularly striking looking Aria for iPad Air shown above. Here’s a little slice of the description for the Aria for iPad Air, as well as some of its key features:
This one was for us. A case of pure beauty and craft. With the Aria, we wanted to see how luxuriously far we could take an iPad case. Turns out, quite a ways. Unlike anything else, the Aria iPad case provides utility, but it’s real gift is sumptuous aesthetic and tactile perfection. French hemmed seams, meet fine American full grain leather and hand finished wood to form the most beautiful case we’ve ever crafted.
- Fits the iPad Air
- Full-grain, American cowhide leather
- Handcrafted satin finish Baltic birch cradle
- Rear camera aperture
- Sure-Lock device grips
- Magnetic sleep switch
- Sound, headphone, charging and button channels
- Signature Pad & Quill ribbon bookmark for easy device removal
I’ve spent 6 days with the iPad Air now, after braving the non-line and getting home with one by around 8:30 AM on launch day. I already have some strong feelings about the iPad Air and some quick first impressions to share.
And here they are, in no particular order:
Living Up to the New Name
The iPad Air does a great job of living up to the ‘Air’ portion of its name. Just as advertised, it’s far lighter and slimmer than the previous iPads. Even knowing how much lighter and slimmer it was going to be following Apple’s unveiling event, it’s still surprising how well they managed this transformation. It really feels like a whole different class of iPad, and I love the slimmer bezels.
I like the Space Gray back of the iPad Air – I think it’s as handsome as the Slate back on the iPad mini.