Categories
Apple Apps Developer

App Updates and Model Change

When one starts out creating an application, it is usually with the intent of keeping it up to date with all of the latest enhancements and changes that newer operating systems might bring. That was my intention with my apps, wwrite, wwrite – iPhone Edition, and wwriteFree. However, as many have experienced, life sometimes gets in the way.

History

Back in March of 2010, before the iPad was launched but after it was announced, I got an idea for an app for the iPad: a plain-text editor. The idea was to use the iPad for productivity; which seems to be well ahead of the curve. I submitted my app to the iOS App Store in early April 2010 and it has been on sale ever since.

I kept it up to date on a semi-regular basis after that. That was up until June of 2014. In June of 2014, right before the introduction of iOS 8, I updated wwrite and wwriteFree to be compatible with iOS 7. I did this because I knew I would be spending the summer writing two e-books, iOS 8 for Users and Developers, and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion for Users, Administrators, and Developers, so I would not have a chance to do any updates on the apps.

Back on August 10th, 2014, I removed the iPhone version of my app, wwrite – iPhone Edition, from sale. The biggest reason for this was that it was a lot of work to update the application and not many people had purchased it. To be honest, besides the lack of sales, there is the Notes app, which is absolutely free and included on all iOS devices.

Fast Forward

Part of the reason for not getting updates was just a lack of motivation. I have been toying with doing an update for over a year. One would have been a complete re-write using Swift, but this was a bit too daunting. I must have started this at least four times, but it never got that far. It may be bad for a developer to say, but I do not use my own application that often. This is mostly due to how bad it looks like on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Regardless, I did still want to update it, I just needed to get the motivation and time. The final push for motivation was this exchange on Twitter.

In case you are unaware, James writes an application called PCalc. You should go and purchase PCalc as well as PCalc for tvOS.

So, a couple weeks ago I decided to really get down to updating my app. When I decided to update it, I knew I wanted to use be a Universal app (one that works on iPhone as well as iPad). The second thing I knew I wanted to do was make it work in Slide Over and Split Screen, just a James suggested. So that is what I have done.

wwrite 3.0.0 now supports full Split Screen and slide over. Here are the rest of the new features:

  • Now a Universal application, supports iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
  • Supports Split View and Slide Over.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for Save, New File, New File From Template, Help, Show/Hide file list, Do word count
  • Ability to import plain-text files from other applications using the “Share Sheet”.
  • Fixed word count miscalculation
  • Reworked Template Customization
  • Jump Directly to App Settings from “Tools” drop-down
  • Support for system Emoji within files.
  • Other “under the hood” changes to bring everything up to date.

Pricing Model

Since its initial release in April of 2010, wwrite has always been a paid application and this will continue to be the case. wwriteFree was designed to be ad-supported with Apple’s iAd platform. Since Apple discontinued their iAd platform, I have decided to change the way that the model for the two apps. wwrite will still be paid but it will have more up to date features. Whereas wwriteFree will stay free but will not always have the latest features. For instance, it does not support Slide Over nor does it support Split View.

wwriteFree has received a minor update to remove the advertising, and make it somewhat more up to date. Previously it required iOS 7, wwriteFree now requires iOS 9.

If you already have wwrite, it will be a free update. If you do not own, now is a good time to go and buy a copy.

Categories
Apple Developer

Apple WWDC 2017 Predictions: iPhone and iPad

One of the hardest things to do is predict where Apple might take things in the future. However, that does not stop one from trying. Which is what I plan to do, regarding what Apple will announce at their annual World Wide Developer’s Conference on June 5th at 10 AM Pacific Time.

The Apple of 2017 is very different from the Apple of 1979. Apple today has a fair number of platforms: iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Within each of these, there are numerous frameworks which allow developers to produce apps. Built to support these platforms are a variety of services. These services include iCloud, Apple Music, and the iTunes stores.

I am going to attempt to predict what Apple might announce at their World Wide Developer Conference Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific Time. Some of these items are logical changes while others are just what I hope Apple will announce.

This is the first of two posts that cover my predictions for what will be announced. This article covers iPad and iPhone. There will be a second post next week that covers macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

iPad

One of the areas where Apple needs to make some major improvements is with the iPad. While the iPad is no where near as popular as the iPhone, it is still a major part of Apple’s strategy. The iPad has seen some improvements over its seven year life, however any iPad-specific improvements have been lacking in the last few releases. In particular, improvements that would help the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The biggest improvement that could be made is around the way that multiple applications are handled. When you use multiple applications on the iPad Pro, you can swipe from the right side of the screen to bring up any compatible applications. However, there is no real order to the applications. This makes it quite difficult to be able to easily locate the application that you want to use in split view.

One possible solution to this issue is to reduce the size of the icons, and basically make it an alphabetical list with application names. This could be an option that is just at the top of the screen. My guess at the probability of this behavior changing is 100%.

Switching Applications

Switching applications on the iPad, particularly in split view is rather cumbersome. If you want to be able to switch the left and right applications, you have to perform the following steps:

  1. Expand the application on the right all the way to the left.
  2. Use slide over to bring up the list of possible applications.
  3. Locate the application that you wish to use (see above for issues wit this).
  4. Tap on the application that you wish to use in split view.
  5. Drag the right-side application to the size you wish to use it at.
  6. Tap on the divider button to put the application into split view.

This procedure takes six steps to be able to accomplish. What would make for a better user experience is to be able to easily swap the two applications. This could be accomplished by holding down on the divider between apps that are in split view. A popup could appear and would offer to swap the applications. I predict the possibility of this occurring at 75%.

App Groups

It is quite often that when you are using applications in split view, that you wish would automatically be grouped together. This could be applications like “Twitter” and “Slack”, or “Notes” and “TV”. However, this is not possible under iOS 10.

It would be nice to see this feature for iOS. This solution could be something akin to Spaces on macOS. With Spaces on macOS you are able to assign applications to a specific space, and the application will also show on that space. This means that you can assign applications that you want to group together to the same space. Given that it is iOS, there is likely a limit to the number of these “spaces” that could be configured. If Apple were to add this feature, it would go a long way for the “pro” users. I give the likelihood of this occurring is 50%.

Within Apple development, there is this idea of application groups. These “application groups” are ones that allow shared information between different applications from the same developer. That is not the type of application grouping that I am referring to.

Sharing Information Between Applications

One of the downsides of split screen on the iPad is that if you want to share information between the two applications that are currently on the screen. If it is simply text that you want to transfer, you can copy and paste. However, if there is an image that you want to send to the other application, you must use the share sheet.

It would be helpful if someone could easily drag and drop information from one application to another. This behavior is very prevalent in macOS applications. There are instances where the items that are dropped from one application to another result in garbage, but this is to be expected.

If Apple were to add this type of functionality, it would be a huge boon to the professional group of iPad users. Additionally, this would add some more functionality and provide more of a replacement for a wider range of users. I put the likelihood of this occurring at 25%.

Swift Playgrounds

When Swift Playgrounds was first introduced it was touted as a way to be able to test out applications and develop directly on the iPad, albeit in a limited manner. There may be some point in the future when you are able to fully develop applications on the iPad, however we are a ways off from that. I do think there will be one change to Swift Playgrounds; the ability to create Sticker Packs directly on the iPad.

Sticker Packs are available for iMessage and allow individuals to quickly create stickers and submit them to the store. There is absolutely no coding required to create a sticker pack. With the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro, there is a large contingent of artists who would love to be able to create and publish their sticker packs directly from the iPad.

Right now, Xcode is required to be able to publish these sticker packs. However, if Apple updates Swift Playgrounds, or creates an entirely new application, it could allow even more sticker packs.

The update, or application, would only allow sticker packs, not more full-featured applications, so it could be possible to allow this to happen. I think the likelihood of this occurring is about 30%.

iPhone and iPad

There are many aspects to iOS that are shared amongst the iPhone and iPad. Whereas the iPhone was the first product released, it was not the first product to enter development, that was the iPad. When the iPad was released it was actually a different operating system. The features between the iPhone and iPad did not come together until iOS 4.3.

32-bit applications

One of the likeliest features of the next version of iOS are that 32-bit applications will no longer be supported. If this does come to pass, there are a couple of ramifications.

The first result is that there will be a couple of devices that will no longer be supported. Most notably, the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and the 4th generation iPad. This is not anything new, given that devices eventually do become end-of-lifed.

The second result is that any applications that are 32-bit only will no longer run. This means that applications that have not been updated will stop working. A majority of these apps are games, which could become problematic for some of your favorite games. I give the possibility of this occurring at 90%.

Naming

Last year’s release of iOS 10 and macOS 10.12 Sierra were both quite substantial. If there is any time that Apple would change from the “10.x” series of names, this would be it. Now is an excellent time for Apple to name the next macOS as macOS 11 [code name], and next years would be macOS 12 [code name], and keep the numbering going forward. This could allow for individuals to more easily know which versions of the operating systems work best together. While it is possible for newer versions of macOS to work with older versions of iOS, and newer iOS versions to work with older macOS versions, the operating systems work best when they are updated to matching versions.

Along side this, Apple could also start providing names to iOS versions. Ideally, these names would be the same. By doing this, users could more easily identify which version of each operating system that they are using and this would also allow users to easily know if they are running the same versions. This is merely an idea. I give this a 5% possibility. I also give the probability of iOS and macOS having the same version going forward as 5%.

Possibility Recap

Let me recap what my predictions for what will be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC Keynote.

Possibility Recap
Change Likelihood
Split View Changing 100%
32-bit Apps going away 90%
Fast split view app swapping 75%
Split View App Groups 50%
Sticker Pack creation from iPad Pro 30%
Drag and drop Data Transfer 25%

Final Thoughts

Each new version of macOS and iOS include a slew of new features. This is not only because new features generate buzz and excitement, but also because new features can spark new ideas from developers. When the occurs the entire eco-system benefits. Apple benefits by increased usage, developers can profit from the features, which Apple also benefits from. Finally users get some updated applications and new capabilities on their existing devices.

Having been an iOS user since the beginning, I have seen the feature set grow from a very limited set to a very feature-rich operating system. However, that does not mean it is near complete, quite the opposite. I have been using macOS full-time for a decade now, and while its feature set was largely in place, it still has a lot of room to grow as well, just in different areas.

I do not know if any of my predictions will actually come to fruition. I guess we will see what Apple does unveil at their WWDC Keynote on June 5th, 2017 at 10:00AM Pacific. Look for another article about macOS, tvOS, and watchOS coming soon.

Categories
Apple iPad Video

Dillian’s Voice

There are millions of people who use iOS devices on a daily basis. Many of us take for granted the fact that we can easily articulate and communicate what we are thinking. Yet, there are those that cannot do so, at least not as easily. While technology may allow us to do many things on the go that we could easily do elsewhere, it can assist others in opening up an entirely new world. This video, by Apple, epitomizes that and brings to light what technology can do for a subset of the population.

Categories
Apple Apple Watch Siri

Apple’s Epic Keynote: Part 2

Yesterday was Apple’s September event. Given the length of Apple’s keynote, I opted to break up the two into articles. Yesterday’s <a href=‘https://www.waynedixon.com/2015/09/09/apples-epic-keynote-part-1/’>article covers the first two products, Apple Watch and iPad. This article will provide information about the last two items, Apple TV and iPhone.

Apple TV

It is not like Apple to show off new products too often. This was done in September of 2006 when then CEO Steve Jobs showed off a new product that they were calling “iTV”. By the time it was shown off again in January of 2007, name was changed to Apple TV. The Apple TV was originally based on a slimmed down version of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. At the time, the Apple TV was called a “hobby”. This hobby got an upgrade.

The second generation Apple TV was shown off in September of 2010. This iteration was a big change. The box was about 75% smaller, fanless, and was based on iOS. This model had no hard drive and only had 8GB of internal storage for caching. Apple has a curated “channel” list of approved HTML5 applications that could stream content to the Apple TV. This was not the last version.

The Third generation Apple TV was introduced in March of 2012. This model was identical to the second generation in physical appearance but could handle 1080p content and sported a single-core A5 processor. There was a minor revision to this model in January of 2013, but the box was effectively the same.

Fast forward 30 months to September 9th, 2015 and Apple has unveiled their fourth generation Apple TV. This one, is a big change.

Hardware

apple.tv

The 4th Generation Apple TV has the same general shape as the the previous two generations. Physically, it is still the same width and depth as the previous two generations, but it is 43% taller at 1.3 inches. This change is needed to accommodate some of the new internals.

The new Apple TV sports an A8 Processor, the same as was in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and 6th generation iPod Touch. The new Apple TV also has bluetooth 4.0 support, 802.11A/B/G/N/AC with MIMO technology, an IR Receiver, HDMI 1.4, a USB-C port for service and support, and, disappointedly, 10/100Base-T Ethernet.

There was one thing removed from the 4th Generation Apple TV that was in the 2nd and 3rd generations, the digital optical out. This may be a problem for some, but for most it should not be an issue. That about covers the hardware changes, excluding one, the new remote.

Siri Remote

siri.remote

The new Apple TV sports a new bluetooth remote, named the Siri Remote. The Siri Remote has a couple of features to it. The first is that it has a Touch surface at the top. This area allows for multi-directional navigation, the ability to click anywhere in the touch area, and even allows for precision when it comes to scrubbing a video.

The Siri Remote, also has a dedicated button for accessing Siri. With the Siri button, you are able to ask Siri to perform many actions. These actions include “Who directed this film?”, “Show me James Bond Films”, and even phrases like “What did she say?”. These phrases are contextually aware. When you ask who directed the film, an overlay will appear on top of the video with additional information about the film.

If you use the phrase “Show me James Bond Films”, you will receive a list of all James Bond films. You can say, “Only the ones with Daniel Craig”, and Siri will have the Apple TV reduce the list to the ones that show Daniel Craig.

The phrase “What did she/he say” will skip the video back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions, so you will be able to see exactly what was said.

Siri on the Apple TV also has the capability of searching multiple sources for content. The initial group includes iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime. These are just the initial list of sources and Apple will be adding more as time goes on.

The power behind this is the all new operating system, tvOS.

tvOS

tvOS

tvOS is Apple’s name for the operating system that underlies the new Apple TV. tvOS is still based on iOS, but it is running a variant of the latest version, iOS 9. tvOS is designed to be more powerful update to the existing Apple TV Operating system.

tvOS includes the familiar Movies, tv shows, photos, and music. tvOS even includes the new Apple Music subscription service. These all received a nice new and fresh look that is brighter than the previous versions.

There is even a new feature on Movie Posters, parallaxing. Parallaxing is the concept of moving a picture slightly to make it appear as though it is three dimensional. It is an interesting effect when seen.

A new operating system and a snazzy new remote are nice and all, but how does one utilize all of that power? Simple, allow developers access. tvOS is designed to be used with 3rd party applications.

tvOS is designed to allow developers to build applications. These could be shopping applications, like Gilt (which was shown off during the keynote), or even Amazon. With a powerful box and touch-based remote, one could easily see other possible uses, like games. This is one of the major functions that Apple has in mind for the 4th generation Apple TV.

Gaming

When you have a piece of hardware that has the same capabilities of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, it should not be surprising that gaming could come to mind. Being able to play games on an 9.7-inch iPad is good, but only having 9.7 inches of screen real estate does not work well if you have a number of people who want to watch and participate. This is where the Apple TV will shine.

There are many iOS games, like Crossy Road, Pac-Man256, and Ball Jump, are enjoyed by many people on the iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Even with this personal enjoyment, there are times when being able to play against others is more enjoyable on a larger screen. The Apple TV is the platform for this.

Developers will be able to create Universal applications that will work across all iOS devices. Even with these universal applications, developers will be able to create unique gaming experiences that are tuned specifically for the Apple TV. This experience may be with a game controller.

The ability to use either game controllers or other iOS devices will allow developers to provide gamers the ability to have fun while playing multiplayer games.

Pricing

The new Apple TV comes in two models, 32GB for $149 and 64GB for $149. Both Models will be available starting in late October.

Final Thoughts on Apple TV

The Apple TV has received the long-awaited upgrade. The refreshed interface, with the new tvOS will allow more individuals to experience a whole new way of watching TV. The interactions enabled by the Siri Remote will allow for in-depth functionality and allow viewers to get more information about what they are watching. The integration of Siri also allows the searching of multiple sources, which means that users do not need to know which application has the content they want to watch, they can now just search for it and begin watching. tvOS will allow developers to create new and innovative experiences with all sorts of applications, but more importantly, games.

iPhone

Apple’s biggest business is the iPhone. At each September event since the iPhone 5 in 2011, Apple has been released new iPhones. This remains the case for this September event.

New iPhones

iphone6s.plus.space.grey

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were two of Apple’s best selling phones. They have now been moved down the rung and replaced by the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The two new models run Apple’s custom A9 processor, a sibling of the A9x in the iPad Pro. According to Apple, this is 70% faster in CPU performance and 90% faster in graphics performance over their A7 chip.

With the release of the iPhone 5s, Apple included a motion co-processor, the M7. With the M7 and M8, the co-processor was in a separate chip outside of the CPU. With the A9, this changes. The M9 co-processor is now inside of the CPU. This means that the “Hey Siri” feature, can now be accessed anytime, due to the M9 getting constant power.

There are a few consistent aspects to the new iPhones. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus still come in the same storage configurations of 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. Along with storage, the screen sizes remain at 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively. They hold the same resolutions of 1334 by 750 pixels, and 1920 by 1080 pixels.

The Retina HD screens remain, but have been enhanced by a new feature called 3D Touch.

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h4>3D Touch

As the iPhone has progressed in its life, the screen and the touch surface have become ever increasingly one piece. This has proven to be beneficial with the new feature of 3D Touch. The ability for Apple to bring these two pieces closer has led the ability to add to the backlight of the Retina HD screen to accommodate for 3D Touch. 3D Touch will detect the microscopic changes

3D Touch is the ability to press into the surface of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus to perform additional functions. These functions are ultimately “deep links” in iOS 9 and allow direct access to the most common functions of an application.

For instance, in the Music app, you are able to Play Beats1, Search your library, and even bring up the last item playing. With the camera app, you can quickly take a Selfie, Record Video, or even record a Slo Motion video.

The last example is with Mail. When you press down on the Mail App with 3D Touch, you are able to compose a new message, search your mail, view VIP mail, and even jump right to your inbox.

There are two concepts with 3D Touch, peek and pop. When you press lightly down on an object, you will be able to look at an item in context. If you press harder, that item will pop to fill the entire screen. A good example of this is within the Mail app. Within Mail you can lightly press down on a message and see a quick look of the message. If you continue to press down, the message will take over the entire screen. Another example is if you’re in the Contacts app and when you lightly press on a contact, you are able to can message them, call them, or even send them an email.

3D Touch will add another level of interaction between applications and the users of those applications. 3D Touch is just one change to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, another is the Camera.

3D.Touch

Camera

There is a common phrase, “The best camera you have is the one you have with you”. Apple tries to make this possible with all of their iPhones. One of the aspects of the iPhone that Apple prides themselves on is the camera. Even the original iPhone in 2007 had a camera. Over the intervening eight years, Apple has improved the camera and its capabilities. Some of these include High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, the ability to capture movies at 30, 60, and 120 frames per second, the ability to take panorama photos, and much more.

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus cameras have received some major updates. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to have an 8MP camera. The benchmark of 8 megapixels has remained constant through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. With the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, this is no longer the case. The camera has received an upgrade.

The new camera is a 12 megapixel camera. You may think, “The megapixel wars are over”, and they likely are. But the new Camera is capable of taking pictures with less noise. This is due to the 1.22 micron pixels in the camera, and the technology to keep the colors separated with deep trench isolation.

The 12MP camera also brings an enhancement to video recording. The capability of recording 4K video that is 3840 by 2160 at 30 frames per second. This new capability also allows for taking 8 megapixel images while recording 4K video, which is a feat in itself.

4K Video recording is not the only change to cameras, the front-facing camera has also received a nice upgrade from 1.2 megapixels to a 5 megapixel camera. This camera will now allow clearer and better pictures. To put this in perspective, this is the same number of pixels that was in the rear facing camera on the iPhone 4 and there was more space in the iPhone 4 for that camera.

There is one more feature for the front facing camera, a flash, but it not a traditional flash. The front facing camera uses the Retina HD screen as its flash. The entire screen will flash momentarily when the flash is needed. This will be great for those low-light selfie shots that people need to get.

Colors

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus still come in the Silver, Space Grey, and Gold options. However, there is now one additional option, Rose Gold. The Rose Gold iPhone is only available on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

iPhone6.Backs

Pricing

The market for phones is changing in the United States. It is now better reflecting how the rest of the world handles their phones. If your carrier still allows contracts, you can get the new phones on contract for $199 for a 16GB iPhone 6s and $299 for a 16GB iPhone 6s Plus. You can also purchase your phone at full price starting at $649 and $749 respectively. Each storage increase will increase the price by $100, up to $949 for a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus.

There is one other pricing model, the financing model. This is done by carriers and you pay a premium on your cell phone plan until you pay off your phone. With these plans, you are eligible for an upgrade after a certain number of payments. The fewer payments, the more per month your phone will cost. Apple is getting into this game with it’s Annual Upgrade Program.

Upgrade Program

Apple has unveiled a new program that allows customers to get a new iPhone every year from Apple. They must finance their iPhone purchase through Apple. With this, they will receive a new iPhone every year. The iPhone they select will be unlocked and include AppleCare+ for their monthly fee.

What is not clear is what happens when you upgrade. Does the remaining balance continue to accrue, or does the difference in cost get absorbed by Apple. It remains to be seen how this will pan out for users, but it is another option.

AppleCare+

There has been an additional change with the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus; the cost of AppleCare+. In previous years, the cost of Apple’s extended warranty has stood at $99. This time it has gone up to $129. It is presumed that the 3D Touch sensor, as well as the Taptic engine has added to the increase in price.

Other iPhones

As occurs every year, last year’s flagship models remain in the lineup. This is still the case with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this year. There have been a couple of changes with this line-up. The first is that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus no longer come in 128GB models. They only come in 16GB and 64GB models. The second change is that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are no longer available in Gold. As expected, the price of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have dropped a bit in price. They now start at $549 for the 16GB iPhone 6 and $649 for the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 5s is now “free” on contact, or can be purchased without contract starting at $450.

Conclusion

Apple’s keynote was just about two and a half hours long after all four announcements and a musical number of One Republic. Apple’s newest product line, the Apple Watch received a nice update with watchOS 2. The new Hermes collection and the new watch bands will allow Apple Watch users to create new combinations. The new Rose Gold Aluminum Apple Watch will allow a new choice for users who want to have Rose Gold, but cannot afford the luxury price.

Apple’s newly introduced iPad Pro will big a big boon for users who can use the larger screen. The capabilities with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard can make it a replacement device for a number of individuals.

The revamped Apple TV with its new application-based platform is something that has been requested by users for a long time. The ability to pair a game controller with the Apple TV will allow games to have new experiences. Universal applications will allow developers to create experiences that span a range of screens to include the largest one of all, the Television. tvOS is a great new basis for developers to bring even more to the Apple TV.

The flagship product line of the iPhones has received a significant upgrade with the A9 Processors with the M9 built in, along with the new 3D Touch technology will provide iPhone owners with new interactions and provide quick access to common features. The upgraded 12 megapixel camera with 4K video recording is one of the biggest differentiating factors of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.

Overall, Apple has outdone themselves again and released a plethora of new products and updates to appeal to a large number of individuals.

Categories
Apple

Why Apple Still supports the A5 Chip

finish_spacegray_large

I thought I would go through all of the iPads and give a fairly complete comparison of the current iPads that are available today. Also for comparison I am including the iPads that are no longer available. This table shows some information of each of the iPads.

no longer sold currently sold
iPad
Model
iPad iPad 2 iPad
3rd Gen
iPad
4th Gen
iPad
Mini
iPad
Air
iPad
Mini 2
iPad
Air 2
iPad
Mini 3
Released Mar. 2010 Mar. 2011 Mar. 2012 Oct. 2012 Oct. 2012 Oct. 2013 Oct. 2013 Oct. 2014 Oct. 2014
Processor Apple A4 Apple A5 Apple A5X Apple A6X Apple A5 Apple A7 Apple A7 Apple A8X Apple A7
Processor Speed 1GHz Single 1GHz Dual 1GHz Dual 1.4GHz Dual 1GHz Dual 1.4GHz Dual 1.3GHz Dual 1.5GHz Triple 1.3GHz Dual
Memory 256MB 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB 2GB 1GB
Screen
Resolution
1024×768 1024×768 2048×1536 2048×1536 1024×768 2048×1536 2048×1536 2048×1536 2048×1536
Retina
Display
No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pixel
Density
132 ppi 132 ppi 264 ppi 264 ppi 132 ppi 264 ppi 326 ppi 264 ppi 326 ppi
GeekBench
Single Core
522 268 267 786 259 1492 1488 1811 1251
GeekBench
Multi-Core
N/A 505 503 1430 491 2701 2708 4513 2129

So what does all of this really mean? Honestly, the only items in this chart that really mean anything are the Geek Bench numbers. The reason these mean something is because the higher the number, the better the device performs. A good example is to take the difference between the iPad Mini and the iPad Mini 2. The single-core results for the iPad Mini is 259, while the multi-core is 491. The iPad Mini 2 comes in at 1488 for single core and 2708 for multi-core. These are significant jumps in performance. The biggest difference is the processor. It goes from an A5 to and A7. The A7 is two generations newer and just a better chip overall. The one thing that you will notice is that the A5 is used in 2 products, the iPad 2 and the iPad Mini. Neither of these support retina displays. The first retina iPad was the iPad 3rd Generation, which had an A5X, which could support the new retina display. Once we hit the iPad 4th Generation, which is the only iPad to have an A6 chip in it, of any sort (the iPhone 5 and 5C both use the A6 chip).

Developers were hoping that the iPad Mini would have been discontinued and would relieve developers of the burden of supporting the A5 chipset when iOS 9 comes out. But that does not look to be the case. Apple may choose to no longer support the iPad Mini with iOS 9 but only time will tell if this turns out to be true.

Why would Apple keep the A5 chip? Could Apple not upgrade the processor to an A6, to bring better performance. If Apple would have done this, it would have brought better performance and a better experience for users and developers. However, Apple is fabricating the dual-core A5 chips for their iPod Touch and it makes more sense to fabricate the same chip for both devices. Because both of these devices use the same processor, Apple is expecting developers to support the A5 chip.

Because Apple is still selling devices that include the A5 chip, the iPad 2 and iPad Mini are still supported with iOS 8 and iOS 8.1. If Apple is still selling devices that developers can build applications for, that has the A5 in it, Apple will likely support the A5 on iOS 9. I am hoping that they do not do this.