At WWDC, Apple announced some very nice new features for iOS 9 that bring the iPad up to date but require the latest hardware. Is Apple being callous in an attempt to get us to buy new iPads? Will the changes in iOS 9 be enough to spur sales? What's Apple's end game?
Those who are jaded will claim that Apple limited some new features of iOS 9 to the more recent iPads or the iPad Air 2 in a callous attempt to force customers to upgrade. But is that really true? I don't think so. Here's why.
I think Apple lost its way a little with the iPad. There was just not enough energy and agressiveness behind it. Apple can get that way at times. It's easy for a large organization to get distracted by the coolness of a product, and the need to run scared is almost never felt when a product, like the iPad Air 2, is as good as it is.
It took Apple some time to realize how customers were using the iPad and what its use cases have been, especially compared to the iPhone. So when poor sales started to reveal that what people were using the iPad for didn't require aggressive thinking about iOS features, it was clear the company had built a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, don't give customers exciting new hardware and iOS capabilities and they'll tend to settle for what they were given.
With the new iOS 9 features that we've been craving, Apple engineers realized that the comfortable backwards compatibility of iOS on older iPads had to go. As a result, picture in picture and slide over are available only for iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3. However, the A7 processor can only do so much. Split View will require the iPad Air 2 with its A8X processor.
At WWDC keynote: requirements for P.I.P and slide over. Image credit: Apple
These features are geared towards productivity increases in the use of iPads, and so if the idea is to get more out of this device, to treat it as more than just a super-sized iPhone, as a potential PC replacement, we're going to need some fairly recent or new hardware. Whether Apple can achieve these goals without a (rumored) 12.9-inch iPad Pro is problematic, but in the end businesses will want it, and the IBM relationship is probably fueling it. I think we'll get one later this year.
People will whine, but that's how Apple is kickstarting the evolution of the iPad. It will be a good thing to see. And it's about time.