Well today’s Apple keynote has come and gone, and unfortunately for all us gamers there was nary a whisper of anything controller or Apple TV related. When the heck is Apple going to officially speak of these controllers!? Anyway, what we did see announced was pretty much what all the rumors had been pointing towards. Apple showed off more of OS X Mavericks, and then in a very surprising but awesome move announced that it would be released today as a free upgrade, even being available for iMacs and MacBooks released as far back as 2007. The iWork suite of apps has received significant overhauls, and again Apple has announced that those apps will be free for customers purchasing a new Mac or iOS device. Finally, the meat and potatoes of the keynote was the introduction of the two new iPad models.
There’s a new full-size iPad which, for the first time since the original iPad’s introduction, significantly changes the overall form factor. It mimics the form of the iPad mini with much smaller side bezels, and of course like any new iteration of an Apple product it’s also thinner and lighter. Probably the biggest surprise is the name of the new device, the iPad Air. I remember some of the naming weirdness we’ve had with the iPad. The original iPad was simply “iPad" while the second generation version was “iPad 2." Then the third generation iPad was known as “iPad with Retina Display" but then later in the year when the fourth generation version was announced, it went back to being just “iPad." At least with the iPad Air moniker, we know which version is being talked about.
Next up was the new iPad mini. Form factor-wise, it follows closely to the original device that was first released last year. The major upgrade here is that the iPad mini now comes with a 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina Display. This has far and away been the most desired feature for me and many others when it comes to the iPad mini, as the form factor is fantastic but when using a full-size iPad or iPhone which both have Retina Displays and then going back to the iPad mini, it was definitely noticeable that the screen looked much lower resolution. And, since the iPad mini uses the same resolution as the bit iPad but with a smaller screen, the pixel density will be higher so things should look even sharper on its new screen.
Besides the new iPad Air’s form factor and the iPad mini’s Retina Display, the big news regarding this new lineup of iPads has to do with the internal hardware. Both versions of the iPad will run Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor, keeping both models in line with each other in terms of performance. This is a change from the original iPad mini which essentially had the same guts as the iPad 2 while the fourth generation iPad had the guts of a beast. Of course, this is based on the information that Apple has divulged, and once the devices are actually in the hands of customers we may find that there are differences between the two models. Still, they should basically be on equal footing in terms of hardware capabilities which is a great thing.
This makes me excited thinking about the possibilities for graphically advanced gaming going forward, however, in what I think is kind of a strange move, Apple has decided to keep the iPad 2 around as the “entry level" iPad for those who want to buy one of the tablets at a reduced price. Yes, the iPad 2. Seeing how difficult it already can be to release new games while still supporting older (and usually highly underpowered) devices, keeping the iPad 2 around as a “new" device will likely keep those difficulties going. Apple also announced that the original, Retina Display-less iPad mini would be sticking around too, at a remarkable starting pricepoint of $299, so I guess if anything developers will be able to target the existing iPad 2-level hardware as the low end for support purposes.
The two new iPad models will be hitting virtual and physical store shelves really soon. The iPad Air goes on sale November 1st, starting at $499 for a 16GB model and going up to $799 for a 128GB model. The iPad mini with Retina Display will be shipping “sometime" in November, and starts at $399 for the 16GB model and goes up to $699 for the 128GB model. I’m very happy to see the 128GB storage option for the new iPad mini. Of course, add $129 dollars on to any version of the iPad if you’re planning on getting one with cellular capabilities. Both the iPad Air and the iPad mini will be offered in two color choices, a silver with a white face or a “space grey" with a black face, both looking pretty much like their iPhone counterparts.
So what do you guys think? Are you going to buy either of these new iPads? Are you as stoked as I am to finally have an iPad mini with a Retina Display? Are you disappointed that there was no talk of iOS 7 controllers or anything to do with an updated Apple TV? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.