The New iPad: Not That Much but More Than Enough

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

The new iPad is here. Exactly how new is it? New enough that you should run out and buy one today? That depends. If you already own an iPad 2, there’s no need to hurry. Otherwise, I would recommend checking your supply of cash; you may be making a new purchase quite soon.

First, a word about the name of the new iOS device. It’s not called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD, as were commonly predicted. Officially, Apple refers to it as the new iPad, sometimes noting that it is the third-generation iPad. I would have preferred a simple and more distinctive name. But I don’t get to make the decision. Clearly, Apple had other ideas. They have shifted to a naming paradigm similar to the one long used for Macs and iPods — where the latest iMac is simply called “the iMac” and the latest iPod touch is referred to as the “iPod touch (third generation).” Perhaps Apple got fed up with the endless ruminations over whether or not the current iPhone should have been called a 4S or a 5.

Whatever you call it, I am confident that the new iPad will cement and extend Apple’s lead over the competition. This is not because the iPad’s new features are so extraordinary. Rather, it’s because the iPad total package, hardware and software and price, represents the absolute best tablet you can buy — and it shows no sign of losing that distinction anytime soon.

New iPad

What if you have an iPad 2?

As a starting point, let’s assume you currently own an iPad 2 and are trying to decide if you should dump it in favor of an iPad 3 (err…new iPad).

The most significant new feature of the new iPad is the “luscious” and “amazing” Retina display. As I have not yet had a chance to judge the new display myself, I can’t confirm how truly spectacular it is. But I’ll take Apple’s word for it; the demos at yesterday’s media event were certainly impressive. On the other hand, the display on the iPad 2 is no slouch. When I use it to watch movies or play Infinity Blade, I don’t grumble about its poor resolution. I’m sure the Retina display makes a difference, but I’m not sure it makes enough of a difference to compel an upgrade from an iPad 2.

The same holds true for the new iPad’s speedier A5X chip. It will be noticeably faster, especially for games. But for the most common tasks that most people do — checking email, surfing the web, reading a newspaper app, looking at photos — I doubt it will make enough difference to matter.

Eventually, as current apps are upgraded to take advantage of the new features and as new apps come out that require the new hardware, the argument in favor of upgrading from an iPad 2 to a new iPad will be more compelling. For now, not so much.

The situation is the same for the other new features of the new iPad. The 5 Megapixel iSight backside camera is a big improvement over the inferior camera in the iPad 2. But how many people will ever use an iPad as an alternative to their point-and-shoot or smartphone camera? Very very few, I expect. In other words, at a practical level, the new camera will make little difference to most iPad users.

Ditto for LTE support. The demos shown at Apple’s media event made it very clear: LTE is not just a minor speed increase over 3G, it is an order of magnitude faster. This is great news if and when you can access an LTE network. For now, most people won’t be able to do so. Of course, if you buy a Wi-Fi-only iPad, the LTE support is irrelevant.

The new iPad wasn’t even given the power of Siri. The iPhone 4S remains the lone Siri provider. Instead, new iPad owners will have to be content with the less spectacular addition of voice dictation. Not a trivial addition, but not Siri.

Bottom line: If you already own an iPad 2, there is no immediately compelling reason to upgrade. Still, if you want to upgrade anyway, you will be rewarded with leading-edge features that will become more valuable over time. Also, more and more families are becoming two-tablet households. If your spouse or kids are clamoring for an iPad of their own, this can be a good time to get a new iPad for yourself and offer your older iPad as a hand-me-down.

What if you don’t have an iPad 2?

Fortunately for Apple, and despite the huge number of iPad 2’s that have been sold, the vast majority of the world doesn’t own an iPad 2. This means there is still is a huge potential market for new iPads among those who own an original iPad or no iPad at all. The tablet market is currently the fastest growing in the computer world. As pointed out at the Apple media event, Apple sold more iPads last quarter than the total number of PCs of any single PC maker.

For people considering their first tablet device, the new iPad is an excellent choice. For the same price as the iPad 2, you get a significantly better iPad. If you were waiting for the iPad announcement before deciding what to do, now is the time to pounce. Even if you aren’t wowed by the new iPad over the iPad 2, Apple has the answer: you can buy an iPad 2 for $100 less than a new iPad.

Whatever you have…

Android tablets have thus far had trouble gaining a strong foothold in the tablet market. I don’t see this changing. If anything, I expect the gap between Android tablets and the iPad to widen this year. The reason for this is not simply superior hardware. More than ever, it’s the software that gives the iPad the edge.

In this regard, Apple upgraded its iWork and iLife for iOS suites to coincide with the new iPad announcement. Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie and GarageBand all have new features that make them more attractive than they were already. And they were pretty darn attractive before. But the true stunner, the top knock-your-socks-off reveal of the entire media event, was the new iPhoto for iOS. Not only is it a great translation of the Mac version of the app, it leapfrogs beyond the Mac version in almost every area. It takes full advantage a touchscreen as a canvas. The cropping tools, the brushes for spot repairs and enhancements, the new Journals feature (which is a replacement for MobileMe’s Gallery) and all the rest are, to use Apple’s deserved hyperbole, incredible. And it’s only $4.99! If you haven’t watched the iPhoto demo from the media event, do it now. I guarantee you will be impressed.

I expect that after I start using the iOS version of iPhoto, I won’t want to go back to the Mac version. I would need the Mac version if and when I wanted to create a photo book, but that’s about it. The only thing to hold me back are the thousands of photos already in my Mac’s iPhoto Library. If I could easily access those photos from my iPad, perhaps via an option to maintain them in iCloud, it would be adios to iPhoto on the Mac.

Even before the iLife/iWork updates and new iPhoto, no other competitor had anything that was anywhere close to these apps. With these latest additions, Apple is lapping the field. 

Bottom line: Oh yes, Apple is going to sell tons of these new iPads. I predict they will set records. No competing tablet on sale now or likely to come out in 2012 will offer any significant challenge to iPad’s dominance. Rather than giving competitors a chance to gain ground, I expect the new iPad will allow Apple to extend its lead. And Apple is not done yet. iOS 6 should see the light of day soon. And there may be other iPad hardware announced around the holiday season.

Apple TV

A minor note: The other hardware announcement at the media event was an update to Apple TV. In terms of new features, this is not much here. The only significant addition (other than what you can get by updating the software on an existing Apple TV) is 1080p capability. There is no App Store for third party apps, no new ports, no new remote, no nothing. But I have a suspicion that we haven’t seen the end of television innovations from Apple for this year. Tim Cook promised that there is exciting stuff still to come in 2012. I believe him.

Comments

Dorje Sylas

The other point for iPad 2 owners, why upgrade now when in a year or so (as I could totally see Apple riding the iPad 3rd gen into winter next year) the 4th gen iPad will be made likely a boost in several area, WiFi not the least.

I wish Apple hadn’t skimped on the iPad 2 camera but maybe by the iPad 4th gen we’ll see an 8 MP with flash and better overall quality. Yet another reason to wait to upgrade from an iPad 2.

mhikl

Maybe Apple did get fed up with the endless ruminations or maybe by the third generation and the lack of worthy competition Apple just inducted its latest prot?g? to the rank of family gems.

I’ve posted my take on where Apple could head with its naming practices elsewhere, but what the hay.

What if Apple just changed the naming of new products to ‘Thing’. I mean, every time it brings out a new “thing”, Timboy could stand proud and say, “And here is Apple’s ‘new Thing’”. No more “new iPad”, “new MBA”, “new iMac”. Ever the minimalist, Apple could even patent the words “new Thing”. I suspect a simple noun alone cannot be copyrighted or I’d suggest, “Thing”, be copyrighted on its own.

Really, what other company has the cojones to be so plain Jane about naming things. No fancy stellar descriptors, no weird number or letter combinations, simply ‘i’ this or ‘i’ that or something with ‘Mac’ in front of it. Anyone else doing that would never be recognised without their corporate name plastered next to its simple product moniker; but MBA, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad?they stand proudly recognised whilst shouting “Apple” from the background.

Aftermac

It looks like Apple has not updated the iPad 2 with voice dictation… seems kind of stingy…

Statistically Insignificant

Given that the moniker The New iPad isn’t sustainable, i.e. it doesn’t lend itself well to expansion, I guess it’s a pretty good indicator that this is an “interval” model, and a much more advanced iPad3 is forthcoming. But that probably goes without saying….

Ted Landau

it?s a pretty good indicator that this is an ?interval? model, and a much more advanced iPad3 is forthcoming.

I think not. I believe we are seeing the end of numbered naming in all Apple products. The iPhone and iPad are the only two that still did this. Now the iPhone stands alone. I expect the new iPhone will drop a number from its name as well.

We’ve survived this way with other Apple products, such as MacBook Air and iPod touch. We’ll survive this as well. smile

arnie

I think the big story is in the little things. Add them all up and a superior tablet becomes even more compelling. Build, superior proprietary apps, integration, usability and the others come out looking undercooked.

Maybe all these little wows are far bigger than one grand wow.

ethan

“If I could easily access those photos from my iPad, perhaps via an option to maintain them in iCloud”

If it can access an iPhoto library on the local network so I can maintain my backed up iMac as the media lynchpin I might get this. Going out to iCloud when the two devices are on the same network just seems silly. Lack of iPhoto was always a WTF point for me and the iPad. When Adobe gets their tablet suite on it I could actually see an ROI for buying one.

zewazir

Given that the moniker The New iPad isn?t sustainable, i.e. it doesn?t lend itself well to expansion, I guess it?s a pretty good indicator that this is an ?interval? model, and a much more advanced iPad3 is forthcoming.

I dunno. I think those who are opining that Apple is done with numbering things have a point.  Apple got stung by the whole iPhone-4s instead of iPhone-5 fiasco, and all over the NAME, having nothing to do with the actual capabilities of the newer iPhone.

It does make a lot of sense to simply have the product name iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, why not apply the same principle to iPad?  Or, to iPhone and iPod series, for that matter.  There will still be model numbers, as well as the oft-used, semi-unofficial, “generation” nomenclature to distinguish a 2012 iPad from a 2014 iPad.  But why not ust let iPads be iPads, iPhones be iPhones, iPods (Touch, Nano, Classic, Shuffle, etc.) be iPod (Touch, Nano, Classic, Shuffle, etc.)?

It may not sound quite as cool as the iPad-RdA5X, but OTOH, they won’t face another backblast when the numbering nomenclature doesn’t meet the expectations of the rumor mills either.

Besides, once past the first few weeks of bragging about having purchased the latest, who says “my iPhone 4s” or “my iPad 2”?  Most simply say “my iPhone” or “my iPad” anyway…

BurmaYank

?If I could easily access those photos from my iPad, perhaps via an option to maintain them in iCloud…?

“If it can access an iPhoto library on the local network so I can maintain my backed up iMac as the media lynchpin I might get this. Going out to iCloud when the two devices are on the same network just seems silly. Lack of iPhoto was always a WTF point for me and the iPad.”

iPhoto on my iOs devices does access Albums belonging to my Mac’s iPhoto library, via selecting those Albums in iTunes/Photos for each iOs device, prior to syncing,  If I wanted access to all the photos in my Mac’s iPhoto library, I could just create an Album containing them all there in my my Mac’s iPhoto app.

I haven’t tried to see whether editing changes to one of those Album’s photos made on the iPad will be synced as an update to the original in my Mac’s iPhoto library, yet, however.

Ted Landau

If I wanted access to all the photos in my Mac?s iPhoto library, I could just create an Album containing them all there in my my Mac?s iPhoto app.

True enough. Still I would like something that does not require syncing through iTunes and would allow me to do real-time editing that would affect the photo on all devices at the same time, as an ICloud or shared network storage would do.

Ted Landau

Maybe all these little wows are far bigger than one grand wow.

Yes. I think they do. But still not enough for an iPad 2 owner to feel much pressure to upgrade. Really, there is almost nothing that you can do with a new iPad that you cannot do with an iPad 2, albeit perhaps a bit slower or at a lower resolution. There are no completely novel features in the new iPad. Who knows? Maybe that’s a sign that tablet technology has already matured to the point that completely new features will not emerge very often from any company. We’ll see.

Lancashire-Witch

Some of the elements of Apple’s offerings seem to have a “because we can” component.

I still have not accessed my music by connecting my Apple TV to the Cloud - because all the music is available by connecting the ATV to a Mac on my local (home) network. The same Mac that I used to turn on iTunes Match.

Or perhaps I’m missing something ....

Paul Goodwin

The iPad 2 is an even better buy now that the price is down. Downside though is that they no longer offer the iPad 2 with 32 GB. But it’s only $399.

Not sure why Apple needs to charge $100 more for every 16 GB on the new machine. Flash memory is only about one dollar per GB in flash thumb drives. 16 GB is not really enough memory if you have a lot of music and pictures without being very selective on what song lists or photos to sync. 32 GB is what I would say the min should be, but that’s $200 more for the new iPad over the 16 GB iPad 2.

I agree…my iPad 2 is still a stunning device to use, display is great, and no reason to upgrade for quite a while yet. I’m only using about 22 GB out of the 32 GB so it’s still a snappy machine

MacHack

Addressing the AppleTV announcement: How many of you have bought the various versions of Star Wars that have come out over multiple decades. I actually still have two Laser disc versions. It is annoying that as technology changes we are asked to pony up money for each version. To that end, I like Apple’s customer first approach to tech changes in media versions. Apple?s offering free upgrades from 720p to 1080p versions of movies I’ve already purchased is a nice customer first act and the reason why I like Apple so much.

Now I think the golden nugget in this announcement that will have the greatest lasting impact with many Apple products is their engineering break through in Retina display technology. Imagine a Retina display on your next MacBook Air or a 30” Retina display on your Mac Pro or…. A Retina display on a 46” Apple TV.  Imagine a 15 million pixel AppleTV with Siri.

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