Posted on Leave a comment

Review: The third-generation 2019 iPad Air is pro enough

The 2019 iPad Air is Apple’s newest mid-to-high tier tablet, and falls just below the Pro line and just above the sixth-generation iPad, making it unexciting, but arguably the go-to tablet for the general consumer.

2019 iPad Air

2019 iPad Air

Apple in 2019 currently sells five different iPads, in five different price points. There’s the 9.7-inch iPad which sells for $329, the iPad mini which sells for $399, this new iPad Air at $499, and the two iPad Pros at $799 and $999 respectively. On the surface, that looks like a lot of iPad in Apple’s lineup, but in 2019 maintaining a business that is just as large as the Mac, Apple has an iPad for everyone.

The mini is aimed at those who prefer a smaller, more compact device. The 2018 9.7-inch iPad is the budget-friendly alternative that is aimed squarely at the education market. The iPad Pros are targeting those who want to get the most out of their tablet. Which leave the iPad Air —right in the middle.

This middle ground means at times it can feel underwhelming, and in certain areas, behind. That doesn’t make it any less a capable device, however. With solid specs, it will likely be —and should be —the tablet that most gravitate towards.

Specs

2019 iPad Air display

2019 iPad Air Retina Display

This iPad now features a 10.5-inch Retina Display with a P3 wide color gamut, it has an A12 Bionic processor inside —which is also inside Apple’s flagship smartphone the iPhone XS, and XS Max —and it also now supports the first generation Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.

The A12 Processor on the 2019 iPad Air is ridiculously fast. It pairs well with iOS 12 —and soon iOS 13. For the past two weeks that we’ve had the device, we’ve never seen the iPad Air struggle one bit. Everything is so seamless and just works right out of the box.

2019 iPad Air playing Fortnite

2019 iPad Air playing Fortnite

Gaming, just as we saw with the new 2019 iPad mini, was great. Titles like ‘Fortnite’ played smooth, even at a quicker 60 FPS with seldom errant dropped frames.

The pair of speakers for stereo are decent. They’re nothing to brag about, but definitely are a lot louder than any other tablet we’ve used this year, apart from Apple’s own Pro lineup. There are only two of the speakers rather than four on the Pro line, which means when you hold the tablet it is fairly easy to accidentally cover the speaker while will limit the sound output.

The overall software experience on the new iPad Air has been really good, too. We haven’t run into any bugs or app crashes. It’s still an iPad running the same old iOS we’re used to over the past few years so we’re not really getting anything special here.

We’re hoping this coming WWDC we’ll see something amazing from Apple with iOS 13 that can visually overhaul this experience. It’s certainly due.

2019 iPad Air and Apple Pencil

2019 iPad Air with Apple Pencil

The Pencil support is a nice addition that a lot of people are going to appreciate. Unfortunately, the display doesn’t have Apple’s ProMotion technology which gives you a 120Hz refresh rate for a smoother experience. Slower refresh rates mean eagle-eyed artists will notice it to be slightly jumpy while using the Apple Pencil. Unless you are really particular about your drawing, you won’t notice this difference. Those who are that serious will likely prefer the iPad Pro and the second generation Apple Pencil instead, but for note taking and less demanding work, there are no problems to be found here.

The smart connector is new here as well, it’s meant to be used for Apple’s own smart keyboard which in our opinion is the best keyboard that you can buy for the iPad. The keyboard is a bit stiff, and mushy at the same time, but once you use it long enough, it’ll start to wear down and soften up to a point where every keystroke feels great. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards out in the market already, but the smart keyboard is what we’d highly recommend.

2019 iPad Air Smart Keyboard

2019 iPad Air Smart Keyboard

It is unfortunate that we still don’t have additional accessories to use the Smart Connector. When Apple debuted it originally, third-parties were going to be able to take advantage of it. Years later, we’ve only seen two or three others actually test the waters, leaving the connector mostly for Apple’s utility.

Should you grab one?

2019 iPad Air

2019 iPad Air

The iPad Air exists because it gives Apple an option to serve a bunch of different people who use an iPad for a bunch of different reasons. Some may want a smaller iPad that they can easily pack in their bag or a small tablet to give to their kid so they pick up the iPad mini. Some people want the most basic, and most affordable iPad so they go for the 9.7-inch iPad.

This exists because it gives Apple that happy medium option between the low-end iPad to the high-end Pro models, and that’s why it’s here. The new iPad Air gives you a big 10.5-inch display that is bright, and color accurate. It supports Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and it has the same fast A12 Bionic processor from its $1000 smartphone, and you’re getting all of that for just $499, the same price that the original iPad shipped for nine years ago, and that is pretty impressive.

Again, this is a case where the AppleInsider audience varies a great deal from the target market —no Promotion is a potential issue, as is the need for the original Apple Pencil, versus the new one on the newer iPad Pro line. But, even all that considered, overall, the new iPad Air is a solid 4/5, with it a bit higher for most of the iPad-using public, and a hair lower for the “prosumer” market.

Where to buy

Apple’s 2019 iPad Air can be ordered from Apple authorized resellers with cash discounts of up to $10 off. To find the lowest prices, check out our iPad Air Price Guide, which is updated throughout the day.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why you should pick up the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro instead of the new iPad Air

A couple of weeks ago, Apple quietly announced a new iPad Air. This new third generation Air now features Apple’s latest A12 Bionic processor, a laminated Retina display and now supports the first generation Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. But should you buy this over the 2017 10.5″ iPad Pro?

2019 iPad Air in Space Gray


2019 iPad Air in Space Gray

The new 2019 iPad Air retails for $499 and goes all the way up to $779 for a 256GB, Wi-Fi and cellular model. We’ve been using this iPad as our daily tablet for the past few days to watch YouTube videos or catch up on some shows on Hulu, answer emails and doodle some artworks for fun. Before Apple announced this new Air we regularly used the 10.5-inch iPad Pro from 2017 which physically looks identical to this new iPad Air, minus an extra set of speakers at the top, and a camera flash on the back.

Fortnite on 2019 iPad Air

2019 iPad Air playing Fortnite

This new iPad Air, as we mentioned, has new internals. It’s using the A12 Bionic processor found in iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, and the new iPad mini 5 so it’s reliable, and fast. I didn’t notice any slowdowns whatsoever during my testing.

It also has a new display that’s more color accurate and one that looks way better than any of the previous models. It also now supports the first generation Apple Pencil.

The two speakers are powerful and loud, as they have always been on an iPad. But, like with most iPads, you’re likely going to cover at least one speaker with your hand, muffling the sound a bit.

The new Air also features a smart connector on the right hand side of the device to use Apple’s Smart Keyboard. We think it’s the best keyboard you can buy for the iPad, even though it feels a bit mushy at times, but for whatever reason, this feels right to us. There are hundreds of Bluetooth keyboards available on the market, but if you’re looking for the best, the Smart Keyboard is the one you should consider buying.

The new iPad Air is pretty great. You’re getting a really fast processor, amazing display, first party keyboard support.

Despite all this, right now, you should really look into getting a 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro instead.

Apple Pencil and iPad Air

First gen Apple Pencil and 2019 iPad Air

With the iPad Pro, you’re getting ProMotion display which gives you a 120Hz refresh rate versus the 60Hz found on the Air. This makes the UI feel more responsive to your touch and has some other niceties when drawing with an Apple Pencil.

Two, you’re getting an extra pair of speakers which is notably better for consuming media or playing music —and if you cover one with a hand, you lose less than you are if you cover one of two speakers on the iPad Air. And, you’re also getting a slightly better rear camera with an LED flash if iPad photography is your thing.

Geekbench scores for 2017 iPad Pro and 2019 iPad Air

Geekbench scores for 2017 iPad Pro and 2019 iPad Air

The difference in processing power between the A10X Fusion and A12 Bionic is slight, but the A12 Bionic has a lead. Regardless, the A10X on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is still a powerful processor that can handle anything you throw at it. From Pro apps to graphic intensive games, you’re not going to be disappointed with either model’s performance.

Both models support the first generation Apple Pencil, so this is a dead heat. Unless you use the half-inch Lightning adapter, you’ve still got to hang the Apple Pencil off the iPad like an expensive lollipop stick, instead of the magnetic wireless charging on the 2018 iPad Pro lineup.

Geekbench scores shows that the new iPad Air scored 4765 in single core and 11379 in multi core while the 10.5-inch iPad Pro scored 3916 in single core and 9346 in multi core. In the real world, the Pro model also has 4GB of RAM vs 3GB found on the 2019 Air, which means that more apps can be stored in RAM, and not dumped when things get tight.

The price between the two are really close and sometimes, you can even find the older 10.5-inch Pro model at a much lower price than the newly announced Air.

Apple Pencil and iPad Air

Apple Pencil and iPad Air

If you’re looking to purchase your first iPad and you don’t want the new iPad mini or the regular 9.7-inch iPad or just don’t have enough money to buy the new 11-inch or 12.9-inch Pro models, look into the 2017 iPad Pro. It’s almost the same price, if not a bit less expensive than the new 2019 iPad Air, plus you’re getting a much better display with ProMotion, four speakers, and a slightly better camera.

Where to buy

Apple authorized resellers are currently accepting orders for the new 2019 iPad Air and iPad mini 5 with discounts of up to $10 off. Meanwhile, Apple’s 2017 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are up to $380 off instantly.

Updated throughout the day, the AppleInsider Price Guides feature the lowest prices and product availability from top Apple authorized resellers.

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple’s 2019 iPad Air, iPad mini support Logitech’s Crayon stylus

 

2019 iPad Air and mini models do support the Crayon, Logitech’s cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil, according to Apple.

Logitech Crayon for iPad

A product page for the Crayon lists the stylus as working with the new iPads, as well as 2018’s “budget” iPad. It’s incompatible with 2018 iPad Pros, however.

The Crayon shares some features of the Pencil, such as automatic connection, palm rejection, and pressure sensitivity. Its main feature though is its price: $69.95, almost $30 less than the first-generation Pencil, and over $59 less than the second-gen model. The latter is intended for iPad Pros only.

Missing from the Crayon are tilt functions or the ability to tap its side for selecting different modes.

The Crayon was originally launched a year ago as an education-only product. It took several months for sales to open up to the public.

The updated Air and mini models are largely performance upgrades, with few feature or cosmetic changes. Enhancements include a larger 10.5-inch display on the Air, A12 processors, True Tone displays, up to 256 gigabytes of storage, and first-generation Apple Pencil support.

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds 3.0 enters first public beta

 

Apple on Tuesday issued the first beta of Swift Playgrounds 3.0, the next version of its iPad-based teaching tool for the Swift programming language.

Swift Playgrounds

One new feature is the ability to give Playground Books “directories of Swift code and resources that can be imported for use by any page in that book,” Apple’s release notes say. To download the beta people must go through the TestFlight app.

Some known bugs include playgrounds getting stuck when live issues are present or after recording movies. Workarounds are available. Notes also mention that the app makes use of Swift 5, itself still in beta.

Apple’s last major update of Swift Playgrounds was 2.2 in November, which brought changes like new playgrounds and better discovery of third-party content.

Swift Playgrounds debuted in 2016 as an in-house effort to teach children and adults how to code using the company’s Swift programming language. The software relies on a 3D world, animations, and interactive tools to teach basic coding techniques, even to those who have no prior coding experience.

Swift can nominally be used on non-Apple platforms but is almost exclusively used by iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps.

Posted on Leave a comment

Today’s best deals: $279 iPads and HomePods, $1,199 MacBook Pros, $800 off loaded 2017 15″ MacBook Pro

 

New deals have arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day. Pick up an Apple iPad or HomePod for just $279 (up to $70 off). Meanwhile, current non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pros are marked down to $1,199 —and B&H has limited stock available of the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro with 1TB of space and Radeon 560 graphics (now just $2,599 with a free sleeve).

Hot February deals

With discounts of up to $800 off, these deals offer shoppers the lowest prices available on iPads, HomePods and MacBook Pros in new, factory sealed condition. Many models also come with additional perks, such as free expedited shipping within the contiguous U.S. for fast delivery just in time for Valentine’s Day and no sales tax collected in multiple states. For a full list of markdowns, be sure to check out our Apple Price Guide.

2018 iPads for $279.99

HomePods for $279 (limited supply)

13″ MacBook Pros with function keys for $1,199

$800 off 2017 15″ MacBook Pros (limited supply)

Apple Watch Series 3 (Stainless Steel) from $369

Apple Watch Series 3 (Aluminum) from $289

Apple Watch Nike+ Series 3 as low as $269

Additional Apple Deals

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running a handful of additional exclusive promotions this month on Apple hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in discounts on AppleCare, software and accessories. These deals are as follows:

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple got tablets right, and created a whole new market with the iPad

The launch of the original iPad on January 27, 2010 saw pundits guaranteeing its failure, some Apple fans disappointed, and Steve Jobs turning out to be right. Again.

Steve Jobs unveils the original iPad

Steve Jobs unveils the original iPad

In the last few months before the much, much anticipated iPad was launched on January 27, 2010, competitors had been talking up their own tablets. Then suddenly it was rumored that Apple’s one was going to be called the iSlate and competitors such as Microsoft were calling everything they could ‘slate PCs.’

Three days before the iPad was announced, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer even unveiled three such slate PCs. He did so in his typical hesitant, clunky style and launched a video that was over practically before he’d introduced it.

Given that and the way he belabored that all the slate PCs he showed were prototypes, it all felt a little desperate. Apple was coming, it seemed to say, and rivals were afraid.

Microsoft, for one, should really have been feeling chagrin. As far back as 1996, its founder Bill Gates wrote in his book The Road Ahead that “in the future lots of people will be taking handwritten notes on computer tablets rather than paper.”

True, by then we’d already seen the Apple Newton so Gates’s book wasn’t as visionary as it seemed to think. However, Microsoft had done more than talk about tablets, it had released Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing in 1992. Then by the early 2000s, companies were making Pocket PCs.

Microsoft had tablets long before Apple. Many, many companies had tablets. It was just that nobody was buying them.

So this is where we were in early 2010. The entire computing industry was waiting for an Apple tablet, the world’s press was going to cover its launch. And then, as now, Apple didn’t say a word about what was coming.

The earliest official indication of something, anything, happening came on January 18, 2010, when Apple issued a press invitation to the launch. It was less cryptic than usual as it blatantly said: “Come see our latest creation.”

Apple's invitation to what would be the launch of the iPad

Apple’s invitation to what would be the launch of the iPad

At 10am Pacific on Wednesday, 27 January, 2010, Steve Jobs stepped out onto the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. He didn’t pause the way he had with the iPhone three years before. He didn’t say that this was a day he’d been waiting for.

Yet he could have done because as we found out much later, the story of the iPad began much earlier. It began earlier even than the iPhone.

Origin story

You know that the Newton was Apple’s first tablet computer, albeit one that needed you to use a stylus instead of your fingers. It’s debatable whether there is really a line from the Newton MessagePad to the iPad but if this were a case of evolution, we’ve found the missing link.

That 2012 video is a demonstration of a pen-based Mac that was made around 1992 but never shipped as a commercial product in the US. It was called the Apple Penlite and the version shown here is a stylus-based tablet version of the Macintosh PowerBook Duo.

Reportedly, though, there was also a version that ran with what we would now call multi-touch gestures.

Apple dropped that and it dropped the Newton but in 2004 Steve Jobs revealed that Apple had continued looking at a PDA. “We got enormous pressure to bring back the Newton or do a PDA and we looked at it,” he said at the D2 All Things Digital Conference. “And we said, wait a minute, 90 percent of the people who use these things just want to get information out of them, they don’t necessarily want to put information into them on a regular basis. Cellphones are going to do that.”

At the time, he said this as if that were the end of it, that cellphones were a market that Apple could never compete in. Yet by this moment in 2004, Apple had produced a technology that would end up becoming the iPhone. It’s just that it wasn’t looking at a phone then, it was looking to do a tablet.

CAD drawings from 2004 of the iPad (Source: The Verge)

CAD drawings from 2004 of the iPad (Source: The Verge)

That image and others were later to be used as exhibits in an Apple vs Samsung court case where we also saw photographs of later prototype iPads.

It’s odd just how unclear and uncertain the origins of the iPad are given that it and the iPhone are so important to Apple and that none of this was so very long ago. Yet while the CAD drawings show a date of 2004, Walter Isaacson claims in his Steve Jobs biography that the idea for the iPad didn’t come until 2005.

Even then he recounts two different versions. One is that Jony Ive and his team had been working on improving the trackpads of the MacBook Pro when they developed multi-touch. Ive showed Jobs a version of their attempt to move multi-touch onto a screen. Isaacson reports that Jobs then said that “this is the future.”

Alternatively, Isaacson also recounts a version that sounds more colorful and apocryphal but which he backs up with quotes from Jobs and Bill Gates. Reportedly Gates and Jobs were at a dinner party for the birthday of a Microsoft engineer who, says Jobs, “badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software.”

Apparently this wasn’t a new topic for this unnamed Microsoft engineer —”this dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it” —but each time the conversation was about using a stylus. “But he was doing the device all wrong,” continued Jobs. “As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead… I was so sick of it that I came home and said ‘F*** this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.'”

What is clear that this work to make a tablet was changed into making a phone. We know this from how Jobs, Ive and others have said so, but also from the fact that it happened. The iPhone came out in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2010 that the tablet appeared.

It’s not as if the road from idea to tablet was easy but once the iPhone was done, and also was such an overwhelming success, the iPad was at least more assured.

Except that Apple was new to tablets and so many other companies had tried and failed. The iPad’s success was of course going to be down to its technology but also very much to how Apple positioned it.

And as much as unveiling the hardware on January 27, 2010, Jobs was really selling us on the idea of an iPad.

Showman

Steve Jobs got a standing ovation when he stepped out onto that Yerba Buena Center for the Arts stage and he got it before he even said “Good morning.” He got the welcome because this was his public return to Apple after having taken six months leave while recovering from a liver transplant.

The extent of applause did seem to surprise him and he did still look ill, but he was soon into a very astutely prepared presentation.

Steve Jobs on stage for the first time after his liver transplant operation

Steve Jobs on stage for the first time after his liver transplant operation

Twice he teased about being there to show us all something new and then instead said he wanted to tell us other things first. He gave a typical update on the state of Apple and of course the numbers were impressive, or at least they were at the time.

While they’ve now all been dwarfed by the company’s later success, in January 2010 Jobs was able to report that the company had sold its 250 millionth iPod. He was able to say that there were 284 Apple Stores and that they’d seen 50 million visitors in the last quarter. He could tell us that there were now over 140,000 applications in the App Store and that they’d been downloaded over 3 billion times.

It was all the regular stuff but in this presentation it was specifically laying the ground work for how Apple was the company to deliver a tablet. How it was the firm that would of course get this right.

After the numbers about the stores, Jobs showed an image of himself and Steve Wozniak from the earliest days of Apple and then paused. “We started Apple in 1976,” he said. “Thirty-four years later, we just ended our holiday quarter, our first fiscal quarter of 2010, with $15.6 billion dollars of revenue. That means Apple is an over-50 billion dollar company. Now, I like to forget that because that’s not how we think about Apple but it is pretty amazing.”

Steve Jobs recalls forming Apple with Steve Wozniak

Steve Jobs recalls forming Apple with Steve Wozniak

It was also the cue for him to expand on the revenue number, to talk to us about how Apple gets this from three product lines. Those were the iPod, iPhone and the Mac.

“Now what’s really interesting about this is that iPods are mobile devices,” he said. “iPhones are mobile devices. And most of the Macs that we ship now are laptops. They’re mobile devices. Apple is a mobile devices company, that’s what we do.”

Remember that competitors had been making tablets for at least a decade. Here was Steve Jobs saying that Apple was bigger and better than them all. “It turns out that by revenue, Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world now.”

He belabored the point, driving home that Apple was larger than Sony —or at least that company’s mobile devices business —and the same with Samsung and Nokia.

With us all now fully briefed on Apple’s stature in the mobile devices market, he finally went into the iPad part of the presentation. Or appeared too.

Jobs quotes the Wall Street Journal on the hyped-up rumors of an Apple tablet

Jobs quotes the Wall Street Journal on the hyped-up rumors of an Apple tablet

“But before we get to that,” he said to laughter, “I want to go back to 1991 when Apple announced and shipped its first PowerBooks.”

Now he was underlining Apple’s hardware expertise and how it led the industry. He spoke of how the PowerBook made the laptop into what we now recognize as one. “It was the first laptop that had a TFT screen the first modern LCD screens. It was the first laptop that pushed the keyboard up, creating palm rests and had an integrated pointing tool, in this case a trackball.”

Amazingly, we’re only just over six minutes into this presentation but Jobs has primed us to think that Apple is the best mobile devices company in the world and also the best at making laptops.

And finally, it was here.

“A question has arisen lately,” said Jobs. “Is there room for a third category of device in the middle? Something that’s between a laptop and a smartphone. The bar is pretty high. In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. They’re going to have to be far better at doing some really important things. Better than the laptop. Better than the smartphone.”

He sketched out some tasks like browsing the web, doing email, reading.

“If there’s going to be a third category of device, it’s going to have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. Otherwise it has no reason for being. Now, some people have thought that that’s a netbook. The problem is that netbooks aren’t better at anything.”

He dismissed netbooks for their lack of speed, lack of quality and poor software. He said they’re “just cheap laptops and we don’t think that they’re a third category of device.”

And then he said “But we think we’ve got something that is and we’d like to show it to you today for the first time. And we call it the iPad.”

The first time we saw the word iPad

The first time we saw the word iPad

It’s as well that Jobs had done all this work positioning the iPad because just about the instant that slide appeared, so did the first criticisms of the device. The very first criticism, though, was valid. It was about the name iPad.

Among many references online to Maxi-Pad tampon and among Twitter references to #iTampon, there were criticisms that clearly no women work in Apple’s naming department. Fast Company‘s Alissa Walker or perhaps her headline writer said it best, though, in a piece called “Apple’s iPad Name Not the First Choice for Women. Period.”

Slated

If you got an original iPad when it actually went on sale in April that year, your first reaction was surprised at how small it was. Then after a few minutes of using it, you tended to forget that and even come to think the opposite. Seeing a full website page at a time did feel like, as Jobs said, “holding the internet in your hands.”

Look at the bezels on the original iPad

Look at the bezels on the original iPad

The majority of critics did not wait to get one, did not wait for it to go on sale, before they were pronouncing the iPad a certain flop.

Business Insider called it “a big yawn” and a disappointment, saying that Jobs “didn’t deliver.”

InfoWorld didn’t even wait for the announcement, let alone the product, before it went a bit crazy with the idea of a “coming Apple tablet-pocaplypse.” Written for IT professionals in corporations, it advised “an outright ban [on the iPad] is in order.” It even told them to make any excuse they liked but ban the iPad and “seek to contain the situation by offering up an alternative tablet solution running the IT-supported and IT-approved Windows 7 operating system.”

John C Dvorak was always more of a clickbait and shock-jock style of pundit but he at least waited until the announcement, even if he didn’t see an iPad himself. Still, he reckoned it was a serious misstep. “I’m of the opinion and hope that this device is only released as a market test and placeholder for something more spectacular in the future,” he wrote.

Spectacular future

If Dvorak’s notion of a market test was bizarre for a business writer, you could say that he was right that something more spectacular would be coming in the future.

Despite the critics, despite being late to the whole idea of tablets, Apple made the iPad and we bought it in our millions. It’s had some ups and downs since that 2010 launch but it’s also got progressively more spectacular.

You’ve seen how shockingly huge the bezels on the original model now seem to us. Here’s another way to see the difference between then and now.

Main image: 2018 11-inch iPad Pro home screen. Inset, to scale: original iPad home screen

Main image: 2018 11-inch iPad Pro home screen. Inset, to scale: original iPad home screen

The main image is a home screen from the current 11-inch iPad Pro. The two devices have slightly different dimensions. The original iPad was 9.56 inches by 7.47 inches and the 2018 model is 9.74 inches by 7.02 inches.

However, look at the inset image. That’s the home screen of an original iPad and it’s rendered here to scale. This is how far just the quality of the iPad screen has come since January 27, 2010, when Jony Ive said that the iPad was “magical”.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

Posted on Leave a comment

New iPad and fifth-generation iPad mini on the way according to Russian regulatory filings

 

Filings with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) appear to indicate new models of iPad could be on the way, with six model numbers potentially covering both a refresh of the standard-sized iPad as well as the rumored fifth-generation iPad mini.

The fourth-generation iPad mini

The fourth-generation iPad mini

The new filings with the EEC reveals the six model numbers are “tablet computers” and are registered to Apple. Published today, the notification advises the tablets are certified for sale in Russia, due to the inclusion of encryption-related features.

The six model numbers are A2123, A2124, A2133, A2152, A2153, and A2154, reports MySmartPrice. The sequential nature of the model numbers, and the grouping, suggests there are at least two different types of device they apply to, with the A2123 and S2124 likely to be for a different model to the rest.

EEC filings showing new model numbers for Apple

EEC filings showing new model numbers for Apple “tablet computers”

The presence of the filing suggests there could be a launch of new iPad models in the relatively near future, but doesn’t advise of when exactly it could be. Considering the last iPad launch took place in March 2018, excluding the iPad Pro refresh, it is likely that whatever Apple has planned for the iPad product family will be unveiled at around the same time.

The iPad refresh is rumored to include elements borrowed from the design of the iPad Pro, potentially incorporating a larger display in a similar-sized body and a thinner construction. A 10-inch display has been touted, though a shift to Face ID from Touch ID has yet to be suggested.

Little has been speculated about the new iPad mini, except that it would be a new low-priced model compared to the more recent release. If launched, it would be the first update to the product line in over three years.

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple elaborates on iPad Pro precision manufacturing process, reiterates 400 micron tolerance for bends

 

Apple has published a support document detailing the new iPad Pro’s enclosure manufacturing process, in an attempt to assure customers that the new device is durable and strong.

iPad Pro Bend

An 11-inch iPad Pro exhibits a bend out of the box. | Source: The Verge

In the support document published late on Friday, Apple talks about the new manufacturing process being used to fabricate the iPad Pro casing. Additionally, the company is doubling-down on its stated tolerance for the case, and what users should do if they think that any iPad Pro is bent beyond what Apple considers allowable.

To provide optimal cellular performance, small vertical bands or “splits” in the sides of the iPad allow parts of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas. For the first time ever on an iPad, these bands are manufactured using a process called co-molding. In this high-temperature process, plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminum surface. After the plastic cools, the entire enclosure is finished with a precision CNC machining operation, yielding a seamless integration of plastic and aluminum into a single, strong enclosure.

In the note, Apple also points out that the “flatness specification” allows for nomore than 400 microns across the entire length of any given side. It also says that “the new straight edges and the presence of the antenna splits may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use.”

Reports of curved or bent iPad Pro models began circulating online shortly after the device debuted in November. Some impacted users have to AppleInsider that the bend slowly emerges after weeks of use, while others noticed an abnormal curvature out of the box. AppleInsider has continued to receive these reports, with users demonstrating bends greater than the thickness of a U.S. dime —about 1300 microns —from end-to-end. However, we cannot confirm the authenticity of the reports we have received, nor have we discovered one ourselves out-of-the-box with the problem.

On December 19, Apple confirmed that “some” 2018 iPad Pro models ship out to consumers with a slightly bent chassis. The company said then —and repeated on Friday —that the deformation does not degrade performance and is not considered a defect.

Apple noted in December that its latest iPad Pro is seeing a normal return rate, suggesting most users have not observed or are not bothered by the manufacturing side effect. Collated service data collected by AppleInsider has seen a very slight uptick of just under half of one percent of all service calls for any Apple product since the original report, which isn’t statistically significant. So, it isn’t clear how prevalent the issue is at this time.

Similar to what AppleInsider pointed out in December, Apple suggests that users who feel that the iPad Pro does not meet the 400 micron tolerance should contact Apple support, and take advantage of the company’s 14-day return policy. The company notes that “Apple also provides up to a one-year warranty on our products and will cover damage if it has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship.”

Posted on Leave a comment

iPads & education in Chicago, Alexa laughing, and the FBI pressing – Apple’s March 2018 in review

New iPads, Alexa laughing at us, and the FBI trying to get backdoors into iPhones —all of these things, and more, happened to Apple and technology in March 2018

Apple invites the press to its education launch

Apple invites the press to its education launch

It’s peculiar how well the events and talking points of one year will usually divide into months but there was an exception this time. March 2018 began with a follow-up news to a February report about employees walking into the glass walls of Apple Park.

Cupertino building official Albert Salvador told the San Francisco Chronicle that he and others had warned Apple about the problem some nine months before Apple Park opened.

“We did recognize that this is going to be an issue, especially when they clean the glass,” Salvador said. “When you clean the windows, you can’t even tell some of them are there.”

Glass in Apple Park

Glass in Apple Park

He also said that at the very time they were discussing the problem with a contractor on the site, another worker walked into one of the walls.

One thing that still hasn’t come out is whether the glass is bullet-proof. Your average office block doesn’t need this kind of protection, but Apple doesn’t have average anything —and in March 2018, the company was being shot at.

Pellet guns

Or more specifically, its shuttle buses were under fire from pellet guns. Many large companies run their own bus service between their various sites and between January and March 2018 there were 20 shooting incidents at these charter buses. No one had been injured, the shootings had so far caused dents and shattered glass.

Damage done to shuttles

Damage done to shuttles

Apple and Google were among the companies using the charter busses being hit and in March the California Highway Patrol introduced decoy vehicles. At the same time the FBI revealed that it was placing undercover officers on the shuttles.

Maybe just announcing this was enough to stop the problem because all these months on, there don’t appear to have been any more reported incidents. Equally, though, there’s been no official statement of anyone being apprehended, either.

Security

Few security issues in technology involve guns of any sort, and in March the bigger story was about MoviePass. This is the app and service that gets you an impossibly cheap way to watch a movie a day in theaters and of course it turned out that impossibly cheap means the app gathers information about you.

MoviePass app

MoviePass app

“We get an enormous amount of information,” Mitch Lowe, MoviePass CEO said at something called the Entertainment Finance Forum. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”

“Netflix buys $8 billion of content a year, and believe me, they have to borrow the money to do it,” he continued. “Or companies like Facebook — it’s free, but they’re monetizing all the advertising and all the data about you. That’s exactly what we are [doing].”

If there wasn’t a crisis team in MoviePass before, there surely was now and it responded to a tsunami of complaints very quickly. “We will not be selling the data we gather,” he said. As if they would.

Perhaps the company just likes knowing that you got home safely from the movie theater. In the meantime, while they were looking out for us with location tracking, the FBI was trying to get public support for a completely sane idea.

The way to make iPhones and others safer is to break their encryption, said FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Headquarters

FBI Headquarters

“We need them to respond to lawfully issued court orders, in a way that is consistent with both the rule of law and strong cybersecurity,” said Wray, about Apple and Google. “We need to have both, and can have both. I just don’t buy the claim that it’s impossible.”

Seemingly at least one US police department agrees with him, too. Indiana State Police bought a forensic tool called GrayKey in order to hack into devices running iOS 11.

They spent $500 for the initial purchase plus $14,500 for a one-year licence that lets them unlock 300 iPhones. Hopefully they got their money’s worth in the first six months because AppleInsider reported that GrayKey exploited security problems in iOS 11 and you can presume Apple fixed those for iOS 12.

Although Apple was a bit tied up in other legal issues. That company is never out of court and this month it was a case about Siri.

Portal Communications, which appears to make nothing but money, filed suit against Apple for allegedly infringing three patents related to natural language voice systems. It wasn’t that Portal had just noticed you can speak to Siri, it was more that the company got the patents from its previous owner in January.

The wheels of justice don’t always grind slowly, though. Portal filed its original complaint at 20:19 on Thursday March 8 and then filed its intention to voluntarily dismiss the whole thing at 16:59 on the following Monday, March 12.

The court signed or shrugged or does whatever it does when a case is being withdrawn and declared that it was dismissed without prejudice on Tuesday March 13. That was at 16:12, if you’re wondering.

It’s not funny

Maybe it was the revolving-door speed of that case going away, but something caused Amazon’s Alexa to giggle at users in March 2018.

Amazon's logo is a smile, but Alexa laughing was a bit much

Amazon’s logo is a smile, but Alexa laughing was a bit much

After AppleInsider pressed the company, it admitted that it was investigating.

“In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’,” said Amazon. “We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.”

Just don’t ask why someone programmed this into Alexa in the first place. And definitely don’t ask why users who heard this mysterious, unbidden chuckle say that it sounded more evil and creepy than Alexa’s regular laugh.

To be fair, you can tell Siri to laugh too. It will respond with phrases like “LOL” or “Hee hee”. We checked so you don’t have to.

That said, at the same time Amazon was addressing Alexa’s plans for stroking cats and ruling the world, it was also significantly improving how you interact with your new emperor. Rather than having to prefix every sentence by calling out the name “Alexa”, a new Follow-Up Mode meant you should be able to issue multiple commands in a row.

Competition

Follow-Up Mode was one of Amazon’s efforts to keep Alexa competing with the likes of Apple and Google with their walled gardens. In March we could’ve learned just how hard it will be for Amazon to beat its rivals because a report said so.

The headline on a survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners claimed that Android is “beating iOS in smartphone loyalty“.

Just because it's a graph, it doesn't mean anything

Just because it’s a graph, it doesn’t mean anything

We’ve often suspected that people only read headlines but this time people who wrote about Android beating iOS even quoted evidence to prove the opposite. This CIRP group that you only hear about when they make claims about Apple, actually reported that “iOS gains more former Android users, than Android does former iOS users.”

AppleInsider did point out some statistical absurdities in the group’s methodology but maybe the truth is just that Android users are more fed up than iOS ones.

In March, we rounded up the reviews of the new flagship Samsung Galaxy S9 and if we’d done a word cloud, “predictable” and “safe” would be the biggest entries. There were comments about Samsung’s version of Apple’s Animoji feature were “creepy” but otherwise it was a release that didn’t seem to interest many.

You’ll notice that we make no mention of Samsung phones having previously caught fire. That’s partly because, weirdly, users don’t seem quite as bothered by the more than 100 events in just a few months as you’d expect. And because this time, Apple allegedly had a similar issue.

Fire sale

Remains of iPhone charging cable, from the Township of Langley Fire Department Field Report

Remains of iPhone charging cable, from the Township of Langley Fire Department Field Report

The fire was actually in 2016 and it became news now because the couple, Cathy and Ian Finley of Langley, B.C, had gone public. Having received $600,000 in insurance money, they were hoping to get Apple to pay as much again because they say the house burned down because of a charging cable plugged into an iPhone 6.

The cable was found in the wreckage of the house and an investigators’ report said that “it would appear that the phone or charger generated enough heat to ignite” a chair it was on.

After a year of talks with Apple, the couple launched a petition on change.org. “We are releasing every phone call, letter and email that has gone between us and Apple. There will be complete transparency. It’s ugly,” they say on the petition site. “There’s phone calls where you just hear us cry and eventually hang up. It’s extremely personal, embarrassing to share and not fun to listen to.”

There’s been no further news of what’s happened. The couple’s petition is still active, currently showing 2,537 signatures. It also includes links to their documentation but the last entry in that is to do with the decision to go public.

It’s not just consumers

The Finleys weren’t the only people unhappy with Apple in March this year. WiseWear, a San Antonio wearable device startup, filed for bankruptcy and blamed an Apple design decision.

WiseWear battery strap

WiseWear battery strap

The original Apple Watch included a diagnostic port which WiseWear used as a way to charge the Watch from what they called a Reserve Strap. This was a way of getting an extra battery band for the Apple Watch, like an external charger but permanently part of the strap.

WiseWear claimed in March that “Apple turned off the port through an operating system change” and that this action made their product unusable.

Speaking of the Watch

Apple launched a new Activity Challenge for Apple Watch users on International Women’s Day, March 8. To earn an achievement badge for this challenge, you had to double your regular move goal.

Women using iPads just like regular people

Women using iPads just like regular people

It wasn’t the first time that Apple has tied fitness to events but this time it was part of a wider move to acknowledge International Women’s Day. More than just a Watch challenge, Apple marked March 2018 by running events around the world including one that was focused on recruiting women to the company.

Hopefully this was a success but if you talk about Apple events in March 2018, none were bigger than the one that saw out the month.

Chicago

On March 27, Tim Cook to the stage in Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago to announce a renewed drive into education.

Detail from Apple's press invitation to its March education event

Detail from Apple’s press invitation to its March education event

“We know our products can help bring out the creative genius in every kid,” said Cook. “That’s why education is such a big part of who we are as a company, and has been for 40 years.”

He was followed by Susan Prescott, vice president of product marketing. “”We do know that the best products alone can’t create great learning experiences,” she said. “Teachers are the heart of the classroom, and we know it takes dedicated, passionate teachers to fuel students’ curiosity, and to guide them to their full creative potential.”

A nice A10 Fusion-powered iPad with Apple Pencil support and free iCloud storage increased to 200GB does help, though.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fifth-generation iPad mini rumored for revival in early 2019

 

Apple may be preparing a new version of the iPad mini, a report from a Chinese newspaper claims, with a fifth-generation version of the pint-sized tablet allegedly on the way, coupled with other changes to the iPad lineup in 2019.

iPad mini 4

iPad mini 4

The iPad mini has not received an update since the announcement of the fourth-generation version in September 2015, with the lack of changes to the product in over three years suggesting the device line is probably on its way out, and faces removal from the iPad roster completely. While there has been little movement for the smaller iPad model in recent years, that may change in a few months.

China Business Times sources claim Apple will be launching two low-priced models of the iPad in 2019. It is alleged Apple is doing so because it saw “outstanding results” for the 2017 9.7-inch iPad followed by a sales decline, allegedly due to it not releasing a “new low-priced iPad” in 2018, though the launch of the 2018 iPad in March suggests this means the fiscal 2018 rather than calendar year.

A new low-priced model of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is slated to arrive in the first half of 2019, with the supply chain starting production for the model in late December. It is unknown if there will be any major changes to the device’s design, as observed for the iPad Pro.

A 2019 iPad is also planned, but according to the report, it will be undergoing a refresh that seems similar in many respects to the iPad Pro alterations. While still a low-priced option, the iPad will apparently have a larger screen that’s more than 10 inches in size, while also having a narrower frame.

The new iPad is said to be mass-produced sometime in 2019, for release in the second half of the year.

Along with introducing rumors, the publication also claims Apple is switching some of its sources for iPad display panels from Japanese producers to BOE, based in South Korea. It is claimed this is part of a cost-cutting measure for Apple.

While the China Business Times has a good track record with supply chain information, like the iPad display panel topic, it has a poor track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans.