I love a shiny new device as much as the next guy. Probably a heck of a lot more than the next guy when it comes to a new iPad. So I’m as enthusiastic as anyone about the possibility of Apple change their release cycle for the iPad to twice a year and bringing us more new iPads this year. A lighter, thinner standard iPad this year sounds great, an iPad mini with a retina display – even greater.
But I read something this morning that served as a great reminder that the best thing about the iPad is not the hardware or ever-improving processors and displays, or any hardware specs. It’s the software that drives the iPad that has always been, and will always be, one of the most critical factors in making it a great device. And it’s the software side of things that currently needs the most attention – as Rene Ritchie at iMore points out very eloquently.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be seeing a ton of rumors and leaks, real and fake, about the new iPhones and iPads and other devices Apple is thinking about for this spring and fall. None of them will be as important to Apple, to us, or to the future of Apple’s mobile platforms as iOS 7 and iCloud this summer.
I think Ritchie is spot-on with his thoughts on this. For me, Apple’s mobile devices, and especially the iPad, have never been about hardware and hardware specs first and foremost. The best hardware specs for a tablet or a smartphone change in months, or often weeks. If you buy a tablet based solely on its state-of-the-art hardware specs you’ve basically set yourself up to be disappointed very soon when another one comes out to one-up it.
iPad hardware and specs have been getting improved and refined in Apple’s typical steady and methodical way ever since its release. While iOS has also seen its standard yearly updates and added hundreds of new features each year, it is still feeling very long in the tooth by now. Home screens and the whole area of working with and managing apps is still clumsy and way overdue for a refresh. Managing and working with files is still far too awkward in many places. iCloud does some things fantastically well, but overall it still feels half-baked and clumsy to use – especially when compared to excellent 3rd part services like Dropbox. Siri still feels very much like a beta product, and at times maybe even an alpha. Maps – well, we all know how well Apple’s first stab at native iOS maps has gone.
So, like Ritchie, I very much hope that a lot of Apple’s focus this year will be on refreshing and significantly improving iOS and iCloud.
What do you all think? Will software updates be the most exciting iPad related changes this year, and should they be?