The iPad Air is coming. It’s just not what Gruber thought. It seems Apple kept the iPad 2 around with the mini introduction so it could have retina and non retina iPads for the sake of price differentiation. As we’ve seen in laptops and the iPad 2/3, big retina screens (in terms of pixels) have some additional hardware expenses, mostly battery.
What if Apple keeps a product with iPad 2 / iPad mini 1 / iPod Touch 5 like specs but takes all they’ve learned building the A6 to make the thinnest possible 9.7″ iPad without retina display. It could be as thin as the iPod Touch. Reviewers would give it a resounding “it doesn’t even feel real”. This would be the new suffix-less iPad. It would probably gain the new color scheme as well. It would also debut beside the thicker retina model with better processor.
If current A6 devices Geekbench at 1600, and these scores have doubled every generation, then we’re on the cusp being way post the 2260 the 2010 original 11 Inch Air with 1.6 GHz Core2Duo, 4GB of RAM, and Nvidia 320m, a machine I still have plenty of use for.
Maybe this would be time for OS 11, maybe just the we-totally-know-it-exists Arm port of OS X. Either way, the 11 inch Air is the perfect platform for it. The only downside of course would be waiting for Adobe and Microsoft to recompile their apps. It shouldn’t be nearly as complicated as the Intel switch (because PPC applications tended to have some Altivec code in there somewhere) it should be a simple recompile with an updated Xcode. Did you know that when developers run their apps in the iOS Simulator on Mac Xcode just makes an Intel version rather doing emulation (which is why it’s called the Simulator vs the Android SDK’s emulator). At this point in its life, Xcode projects have very little byte code in them so it’s just a matter of the compiler.
What would an Arm MacBook Air have against an Intel one? Well, for one, battery life. This could be Apple’s first 12 hour machine. It would also be an excuse to bring the black/white thing to some of the Macs. Like last time, though, Apple would have to spoil the surprise a little and have a developer only machine first, probably Mac Mini shaped.