Yesterday, Apple announced their new iPads, and one of the few surprises was the naming schemes. Apple dropped numbers, so instead of the iPad 5, we have the iPad Air, and instead of the iPad mini 2, it’s the iPad mini with retina display.
This naming system aligns with Apple’s mac line, as Macs are updated every year, but it’s still just the iMac, Macbook Air, MacBook Pro, etc. There’s no numbers there, and now only Apple’s iPhone line has numbering, which could get more convoluted in years to come with multiple new iPhones. Apple’s most interesting choice for their fifth generation iPad, is that it’s called the iPad Air to go alongside the iPad mini. That leaves us wondering if there will be an iPad Pro, to align with Macs.
We have the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro with the Air focusing on thin & light, and the Pro offering more processing power, and a better display. The lines are starting to merge in sharing ideals, and Apple also has a Mac mini, and Mac Pro for their desktop line. The iPad line could soon be seeing the same transformation with the introduction of the iPad Air. Especially since the main new feature of the iPad Air is the thin & light design. That may leave the door open for a new iPad model in 2014, known as the iPad Pro. We have already seen rumors that Apple could be working on a 12.9” iPad, which is essentially the screen portion of a 13” MacBook.
The new iPad Pro could come with a more future seeing feature set, like the iPhone 5S, compared to the 5C. This year, we didn’t see the TouchID fingerprint sensor, or a keyboard based smart cover for the iPad Air, and it seems those type of features would be reserved for the Pro line. The MacBook Pro was the first Mac to gain a retina display alongside a new internal structure, and is positioned as a future looking product. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities to have three iPad lines at 7.9”, 9.7”, and 12.9” respectively with the 12.9” device offering cutting edge features that trickle down to the two smaller sizes a year later. Also, with the transition to the Air name, we shouldn’t expect to see the iPad Air 2, or iPad 6 next year, and instead just a new iPad Air with Apple discontinuing this year’s model.
A Pro iPad is a legitimate option now that Apple has gone to 64-bit architecture with their ARM based A7 chip, and updated iOS accordingly. The A8 chip will be even more powerful, and further blend the lines between mobile and desktop computing, which an iPad Pro would certainly fit into. The iPad Air could just be the beginning of Apple’s plans for the iPad line in the future.