Guest Article by: iconredesign
The iPad mini 5 and iPad Air 3 were released a couple weeks ago, and they are clearly budget iPads— That’s why there’s no grandiose keynote to show them off— Finally the iPad lineup is no longer polarized between a non-laminated budget release and the top-of-the-line with a 10.5-inch iPad Pro awkwardly wedged in the middle.
The names have become so bad that the new iPad Air is officially just “iPad Air”. When your iPad Compare page on apple.com have to resort to retroactively style the original- iPad Air from 2013 as “iPad Air (1st generation)”, you know the name has failed be- cause what’s the point if a product name can’t differentiate squat. Why not just iPad Air 3?
No one uses the iPads for the names though. I’d still gladly pick up this iPad Pro 3rd generation that I’m typing this article on, even if it’s called “iPad Pro Xs Max Plus with Retina display”.
Because everyone only really cares about the hardware. Specifically, the exterior design— The aluminum unibody, display, and connectors. That’s an Apple problem.
It’s so strange to me that the iPad mini still reused essentially the same design as it did back with the original model in October 2012. I’ll give them credit for the Retina dis- play, the ditched mute switch that they began with iPad Air 2, and the matte chamfered edges that they took from the iPhone SE in 2015. People say a year in tech is a long time, so seven must be the entirely of human civilization in tech terms.
Yet no one seems to care for it. Yet everyone hounded on the iPhone and Apple hounded even harder on themselves for it. Most people would agree that iPad is basically the tablet market, with Google’s recent exit from the tablet scene and Samsung’s Tab series generally not doing so hot, and you won’t be hard-pressed to find Android loyalists who swear by their iPads.
Maybe that’s complacency and Apple thinks it can slow down a little.
There was murmuring on how the iPad mini 3 simply added Touch ID with no processor bumps, redesign, anything, and they sold iPad mini 2 for $100 off. People ended up hatching the talking point that “you’re paying $100 for the Touch ID sensor.” They aren’t wrong. Then a bump. Then four years of radio silence, where in the Jobs era, it would have disappeared in both product and name after two or three and cease to exist. Yet it languishes with its years-old design that a Jobsian Apple would consider an eyesore, and a years-old processor that just can’t run apps.
Then suddenly Cupertino burped out another with the same design (from out of all people, a design-oriented company) with a chip they already are mass-producing with
2018 iPhones, and Pencil support because they made a Pencil so good back when it launched and is still very decent today and people wanted it.
I saw the press release and went, “That’s it?”
Apple of all companies would just do that? The same company that threw its prototypes in the water to look for bubbles to shrink them down. The same company that had its employees essentially treat the Apple Campus as their main home now that they have to pull consecutive all-nighters to get the original iPhone ready in time. The same company that would, year after year, pull out something radical on stage and axe those that they lost an interest in.
I hate to be a “Steve would’ve done that” person but back then they gave a 2010 iPod nano a full redesign even when iPhone and iPad became their main business. They gave it a clip, they redesigned the buttons, they made a fork of iOS specifically for the nano that looked like iOS 4 and gave the iPod line a big modern refresh as a result. Yeah, people turned that thing into a watch, but that wouldn’t have happened if in 2010 they decided to simply throw in an A4 chip as the new processor and did noth- ing else. The older iPod nano had a click wheel.
With that standard in mind for even an iPod nano in 2010, and apparently the iPad mini is selling enough to justify an almost-silent update (if it not for the helpful hear- hear of Apple and the wider tech media), is the iPad mini 5 even a 2019 iPad in the strictest Cupertino sense?
The Air 3 would have been rethought and redesigned. If the headphone jack is no longer in, it will be gone from the chassis. But with the iPad Air 3, the appearance of a
headphone jack reeks of “parts bin” product developing where Apple would jump at the first chance to align it with their current ideals if they are truly putting work into a new device, like the latest iPad Pro. That I’m typing this on.
Unlike the Air and the mini, this thing has USB-C, an actual new Apple Pencil, and a radical new design. It might be okay for you the consumer, but you know Apple. They are always the ones setting that bar for themselves and not resting on their laurels.
The iPad might have truly cornered the tablet market and nothing had come close. If so, why even update anything? The Android tablet apps aren’t going to write them- selves, so those app-oriented users (which are basically all of them) won’t switch away that easily.
It’s not like people come to Apple for the quality and care that’s been put into everything they do.