Apple today showed off new iPad and iPad Mini models. In the month before the iPhone 5c and 5s were announced, there were constant rumors about what they would sport. On the whole, the rumor mill was very accurate, no doubt thanks to a little help from Apple to keep the iPhone top of mind. By contrast, there were few rumors circulating about the new iPads.
Did that mean Apple has shocks in store -- or there's not much to say about them? It was more of the latter. As expected, the new iPad -- named the iPad Air -- uses Apple's 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion coprocessor (both introduced in the iPhone 5s), but not the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. The big deal is that it is 20 percent thinner and much lighter, weighing 1.0 pound versus 1.4 pounds. The cheaper iPad Mini gains the Retina display and A7 processor, though it doesn't run as fast. They begin shipping in November at the same prices and configurations as the previous models.
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Apple updated its iPad covers, but did not add built-in keyboard, à la Microsoft's Type Cover for its Surface Pro, as some rumors suggested. Apple also announced the significant updates promised earlier this year to the iWork suite for both iOS and OS X.
But for most people, new iPads are what's hot. A 64-bit iPad, coupled with the 64-bit iOS 7 and apps designed for 64-bit processing (there are now extremely few), could be a powerful alternative to a lightweight laptop. It could even run complex or compute-intensive apps such as Adobe Photoshop that today need more horsepower than what a tablet delivers.
I know many people who carry only an iPad while traveling, and at the Interop networking conference a few weeks ago, I met several CIOs who expected to have sizable tablet-only user communities in a few years, particularly for sales forces and field forces. The group could even extend to desk workers who require little beyond email, the Web, and core office productivity capabilities that you can already get on an iPad and and that Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all working to deliver via the Web.
But more is needed.