The iPad 5th generation is now a known quantity in the form of the iPad Air that is thinner, lighter, and faster than the previous generation. The iPad mini second generation includes the long awaited retina display alongside the same powerful 64-bit processor in the iPad Air. The question is, what’s left for the sixth generation iPad, and third generation iPad mini? It seems that thinner and lighter are going to be very tough to pull off now that the 9.7” iPad is down to one pound, and 7.5 millimeters thin. The 7.9” iPad mini is already super thin, and it’s form factor inspired the changes for the iPad Air. Apple doesn’t have much to lean on for their iPad upgrades in 2014. With the iPhone 6, it’s easy to point to a 4.7” 1080P edge to edge screen with 426 ppi in a device that is marginally larger overall. It’s not as easy to see the changes for the iPad line.
There will obviously be the new A8 chip, which is likely to be quad core to expand the 64-bit architecture with more power. It’s going to take more than that though, and just including the new cameras and TouchID fingerprint sensor that should have been included this year aren’t going to cut it. When you think ahead, you realize that if you’re interested in the iPad this is the year to invest in one, as 2014 doesn’t have much to look forward to. In all honesty a 12.9” iPad Pro that can run simultaneous apps with a keyboard smart cover might be the only potential appealing upgrade. It’s tough to see any appealing upgrade for the iPad Air, or iPad mini unless they offer new software features.
Right now, the only way Apple can change the usability of the iPad is on the software side, and maybe we will see greater functionality in iOS 8. It would be great to run Pages, and Safari at the same time in landscape mode, but even if that is included in iOS 8, I can’t imagine it wouldn’t run on the A7 equipped iPad Air and retina mini. The only big change on the hardware side would be a haptic display, which is extremely exciting, but just doesn’t seem to be close at all. A haptic display would be an extraordinary upgrade to feel the physical differences of rock, or cotton on a touch display. It appears that’s 3-5 years out though, and there’s just not much left for the iPad 6, and iPad mini 3. A8, new camera, TouchID seem obvious, but that’s not worth an upgrade over the iPad Air, or iPad mini with retina display.
Right now, it doesn’t seem like much is left for the iPad 6 & iPad mini 3, and Apple hasn’t been very surprising lately either.