One of my favorite apps of the 21st century is PCalc. It’s a calculator app for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even Watch. PCalc is more than a standard calculator, of course; it’s packed with features and I like having a similar interface on every device.
The Mac version has an option to save the so-called paper tape and I use it to tinker around with ideas that involve, well, math. No, not programmatic formulas of any kind, but the math that pops into my head here and there. Here’s one about the iPad that lit up a few brain cells over the weekend.
The Grown Up Mini
Apple has a few products of the mini variety. There’s the Mac mini; a Mac in dire need of an upgrade. And there’s the iPad mini, also in need of an upgrade. What could Apple do to the latter that would surprise everyone and yet make it a better device in the post-PC era?
Kill the iPad mini.
What? Kill it? Why? It sells well. People love it. And like all iPads, even the mini is built to last, besides, the screen is exactly like the larger iPad Air, only, well, smaller. Why kill it?
I did some quick math on the Mac mini’s overall size vs. an iPad Pro or iPad Air 2 (same size) if the bezel was removed and left just the screen itself but with far smaller forehead (camera) and chin (Home button). The overall dimensions of a micro-bezel or bezel-less iPad Pro would make it about the same size as the iPad mini is now with the fat chin, high forehead and left and right bezels.
Without a bezel, a new iPad Pro would be about the size of an iPad mini. So, who needs a mini?
It’s becoming more clear what Apple plans to do with the iPad line. Two words: Size matters. So does power, but that’s not the iPad’s problem right now. The iPad Pro models already compete well against cheap Chromebooks, and have more applications available than comparably sized Windows PCs with touchscreens.
Let’s look at my expected iPad line for 2017.
- 9.7-inch iPad mini (remember; without the bezel it’s about the same physical size as a current iPad mini).
- 10.5-inch iPad Pro (seemingly larger, but actually about the same size, without bezels, as the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro)
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro (which, without bezels, would be slightly smaller than the current line iPad Pro).
What Apple hasn’t done that it traditionally did just a few years ago, was supply the iPad with the same but modified A-Series CPU from the iPhone. The iPhone 7 line has the A10 Fusion CPU, but the iPad line has CPUs going back to the A7 series. Even the newer iPad Pro models have last year’s A9X series CPU, so the entire line is due for an upgrade.
It’s unlikely Apple will introduce an iPad Pro with an A11X and overshadow the iPhone 7, but getting a powerful CPU into a new line of iPads is a must. Apple is Apple and I don’t expect an iPad line that includes a Smart Keyboard and Pencil, but all new iPads should be capable to handle those accessories. After all, Apple’s new iPad advertising says the company wants iPad to compete with PC notebooks, and that requires a detachable keyboard (see the videos on Apple’s own YouTube video page).
Apple needs to get away from selling two-year-old technology as if it were new. I understand why. Tiered pricing works. But Apple’s pricing schemes utilize old technology and anemic storage to segregate price tiers and that means customers– especially those who don’t know any better– get stuck with old devices with less storage. That’s wrong. Apple knows it. The tech industry knows it. You and I know it. And Apple needs to stop the practice.
2017 could be a good year for Apple hardware introductions; especially since the Mac and iPad lines are anemic and in need of an upgrade; sooner, rather than later. Will Apple follow my advice? That’s unlikely as Apple seems to march to the beat of a different drummer, and profit is thy name.