The iPad Air is a good buy. It offers almost the same level of power and features as the Air 2, but it’s temptingly cheaper. Since the Air 2’s announcement, it has been the Apple tablet shrewd purchasers chose. Unsurprisingly, Apple isn’t happy about such bargain hunting, and with the introduction of iOS 9, it has given us the first, real, solid reason not to save a bit of cash, and buy the iPad Air 2 like eager, obedient little consumers.
So, should we do Apple’s bidding, and snap up the newest iPad out there? No, and the reason is due to the enduring rumors about a larger iPad Pro. In its efforts to make us all dribble over the iPad Air 2, Apple has inadvertently put us off the Air 2 even more.
We’re talking about the exciting, often requested, and genuinely helpful addition of true mutli-tasking on the iPad, and in particular, the split-screen app feature, which is currently an iPad Air 2 exclusive. Older iPads will get a few of the new multi-tasking features, but the big one won’t be joining them.
While some may see it as manipulative — although there could well be technical reasons that explain why it’s limited to the Air 2 — really, Apple’s using its split-screen support as a carrot on a stick. Well, it’s not going to work. Arguably, it should have been included when the tablet launched last year, and the feature’s arrival in late 2015 isn’t enough to save the Air 2 from becoming the iPad-no-one-wanted.
Multi-tasking is going to reinvigorate the iPad, just not the iPad Air 2
iOS 9’s multitasking release is a bit of a strategic error on Apple’s part. It really needed to be in iOS 8, ready for the Air 2’s release. Then, there would have been a compelling argument against saving money and getting the first Air. Instead, the split-screen feature is going to turn up just as we’re all talking about the Air 3 and the currently unofficial — but clearly ideal for iOS 9 — iPad Pro. The Air 2 came out in October last year, which means we’re less than five months away from a replacement.
Multi-tasking is a very big deal. It’ll allow the iPad to evolve and take on more comprehensive business-orientated tablets like the Microsoft Surface 3 and the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, while still having all the gaming and leisure potential offered by the current models. The extensive collection of tablet-optimized apps inside the iTunes App Store gives added incentive.
If you put all these apps in split-screen view on the 12-inch-plus iPad Pro, it’ll become a power user’s dream machine. The extra inches will inevitably allow us to make best use of the split-screen feature, the new multitouch trackpad, and the promised improvements to external keyboard compatibility.
If the true split-screen multitasking feature is the reason you’ll want an iPad, it’s almost certain to be even more effective on a screen that’s larger than 9.7 inches. Also, anyone who likes to draw on their iPad could certainly use the extra space. Imagine having your drawing reference right next to your preferred drawing app in split-screen view on a 12-inch-plus screen.
Patience is a virtue, and the iPad Pro could be your reward
Time to return to Earth with a bump. Right now, as of this moment, you can’t buy an iPad with a larger than 9.7-inch screen. However, do not let this be the reason you run out and grab an iPad Air 2 tomorrow — especially if your primary reason for doing so is iOS 9 and the split-screen feature.
Don’t forget, the software isn’t out yet. Yes, you may be able to get access to a beta version in July, but it’s not certain all the features will be available, or be very stable. The final, full release of iOS 9 will come in September or October this year. By that time, a new iPad Air, or the iPad Pro itself will either be official, or about to be announced.
If you haven’t picked an iPad Air 2 up already, then chances are you can bear to wait a little longer. Wait to see what October brings. You really can’t lose. If the iPad Air 3 is another middle-of-the-road update and the iPad Pro turns out to be nothing more than a glint in an Apple fanboy’s eye — the iPad Air 2 will still be available, and probably $100 cheaper than it is now. Then you can go buy one.
However, given the sheer number of rumors around the iPad Pro, and the hints laid out in iOS 9, it seems almost certain that an iPad with a slightly bigger screen will be revealed this fall, and your patience will be rewarded.
So, well done Apple. On the surface, iOS 9 and all its bountiful multi-tasking joy look like a good reason to pick up the iPad Air 2. Except it’s not — It’s actually another reason not to buy one, and a very good one, too.