7 things you'll hate about the iPad Air
23rd Oct 2013 | 10:30
The features that will gladden the hearts of rival manufacturers
You can't change the world every time, but for many people the fifth generation iPad, the iPad Air, came accompanied by a whiff of disappointment.
Part of that was no doubt due to the terribly poor launch event, which had us watching from behind our hands for long stretches as Apple's execs traded painful banter - but a much bigger part of it is that the iPad Air appears to lack the wow factor.
Here are seven reasons why you might be annoyed by the iPad Air.
1. There's no Touch ID
Were we the only ones hoping that the iPad Air would be a pointy-fingered fun-fest? We can forgive the lack of a blingy gold iPad - opinion is firmly divided on that one round here - but the Touch ID sensor was supposed to be a shoo-in for this iPad.
So much for received wisdom: the iPad Air's home button is the same one we've seen in every other iPad, so there's no finger-scanning fun with the iPad Air. That's a genuine surprise, and we suspect it's partly so Apple can go "woo! Fingerprints!" when it launches the iPad 6.
2. iPads aren't any cheaper
We know Apple's a luxury brand but we're living in straitened times these days, and the iPad Air isn't delivering any trickle-down effect here: instead of giving the iPad 2 the boot and making the iPad 4 the most affordable full-sized iPad, Apple has booted the iPad 4 and kept the 2, ancient dock connector, rubbish camera, A5 processor and all. The gap in price between the iPad 2 and the iPad Air isn't huge, but the gap in technology is.
3. The camera's only been tweaked
We're not fans of tablet photography - where Apple's promo shows some rugged outdoors type filming from the top of a mountain, the reality is usually some huge idiot blocking your view while they try to take blurry pics of a gig.
But for those who are, the iPad Air's camera isn't a big upgrade: where the iPad 4 boosted resolution from 0.7MP to 5MP, the upgrades with the Air are on the front-facing FaceTime HD camera. The rear shooter remains a 5MP effort, albeit one that's been tweaked for better video zooming and image stabilization.
4. The faster Wi-Fi isn't Apple's fastest
Where Apple is merrily rolling out ultra-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi in its laptops, the iPad Air is stuck with good old 802.11n.
This incarnation is MIMO - multiple input multiple output, which uses multiple antennas to get better coverage and therefore better speeds - which is better than before, but if you're already heading down the 802.11ac route the iPad Air wants to sit that dance out.
5. You'll have to buy your accessories again
Thinner, lighter and narrower are generally good things, but they aren't if you've spent good money on a decent case: the iPad Air will slide about in it at best, and fall out of it at worst.
If you've already plonked down big notes on a Smart Cover you'll need to do so all over again or suffer the ignominy of having a cover that doesn't quite fit your iPad.
6. Apple's embracing in-app purchases
Instead of offering Garageband for the already ridiculously low price of three quid, Apple's giving it away for free on every iPad Air - but it's also bringing in in-app purchasing for instruments and sounds.
That's not just a pain for some users - we're told IAPs mean that Garageband might not be usable in schools, which tend to prohibit in-app purchasing on users' devices for obvious reasons - but it's also another nail in the coffin of paid-for iOS apps.
Apple made it explicit: it's revolutionizing how we pay for software. We can't imagine that developers are too chuffed about that.
7. It's all a bit meh, really
Imagine for a moment that Apple wasn't a computer firm, but your favorite indie, metal, EDM or jazz-funk fusion band.
"Here's our new album," they'd say. "It's all the songs from the last one, but we've turned them up a bit and made the album art a slightly different color." You'd hardly be rushing to iTunes.
The iPad Air is a bit like that. This is one of Apple's 'tweener releases, a minor evolutionary step between the big blockbuster versions. While it's a perfectly good device - and Apple isn't telling lies when it says it's the most powerful iPad yet; that processor is very powerful - there's nothing here to get really jump-up-and-down excited about.
Apple isn't about mere spec bumps, we're told, but that's exactly what lighter, thinner and a bit more powerful means. The BBC headline sums up the excitement, or rather the lack of it: "Apple unveils thinner iPad Air".
- It's not all doom and gloom, though. Here are 7 things you'll love about the iPad Air