Why Apple should supersize the iPad Air

Macworld

Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.

Consumers like big screens too

Apple is much more of a listening company than it used to be. Under Steve Jobs’ tenure, the philosophy was very much one of telling: telling us what sort of tech we wanted and how we should use it. These days there’s a little more allowance for customers having their own preferences.

One way this has manifested itself (in both good and bad ways) is in multiple form factors. Jobs liked to keep the product lineups simple. Apple’s designers know best, he figured, so let’s just make our laptops and phones as good as they can be, and they’ll sell. But Cook-era Apple listens to the demand for bigger screens, or smaller phones, and is far more open to selling lots of different versions of essentially the same product. There was a time when the Mac lineup could be boiled down to four products across a neat quadrant, and the iPhone and iPad were single devices. But all three ranges have expanded and expanded to the point where even seasoned tech hacks find them confusing.

Nevertheless, it has taken Apple a long time to accept the seemingly obvious truth that size and power are not the same thing, and that there will always be customers who want one but not the other. To this day, the MacBook Pro comes in 13-, 14- and 16-inch screen sizes, and until recently, the MacBook Air was limited to 13-inch and smaller varieties. Apple has historically put more powerful processors in its larger-screened iMacs. Until 2022, you could only get the biggest iPhone screen if you also paid for a Pro-standard feature set. And the largest iPad is the 12.9-inch Pro, with the humbler standard and Air models limited to 10.9 inches.

Did the launch of the first iPhone Plus last year and the 15-inch MacBook Air, perhaps, signal an end to such blinkered thinking? As I discuss in my review of the 15 Plus, linked below, the screen is a fundamental aspect of the smartphone experience, and it’s only natural that some customers will want to prioritize it over cameras (which are arguably too good already) and processors. Other than maximizing profit from upsell, what reason is there to gatekeep the largest screen size? It’s not like the iPhone 15 Plus is cheap, it just isn’t Pro-level expensive.

I was intrigued, then, by last week’s rumors of a giant iPad Air–and by giant, of course, I mean “the same size as the larger iPad Pro.” If the iPhone Plus makes sense, then a 12.9-inch iPad Air makes sense in exactly the same way. For certain users, a big screen is worth having, and there’s no obvious reason I can see why those users are necessarily the same group who want a desktop-class processor in their tablet. For example, I use an iPad Air as a second (actually third) screen while working on my MacBook Pro–mostly showing email and playing music rather than actually mirroring or extending what’s on the laptop–and bumping up its screen size would be hugely appreciated. But I don’t need it to churn through graphically demanding apps, store multiple terabytes of data, or feature ProMotion and dual-lens cameras, and I don’t see why I should pay over the odds in order to get those things.

Of course, there’s an argument to to be made for the old prescriptive style, where you take what you’re given and privately admit that yes, Apple has done it again and the one thing they allowed you to buy is exactly what you needed. Sometimes choice is a burden; in the less consequential areas of our lives, tyranny can be a blessing. What’s more, that’s the corporate philosophy that today’s Cupertino successes were built on. But that’s not the way things are at Apple Park these days, and in most respects the company is prepared to accommodate our individual needs. It just has this odd obsession with big screens and top-of-the-line processors having to go hand in hand.

I will add, finally, that I don’t find the rumor especially convincing: details remain sparse, the source doesn’t have the best track record, and this is the first we’ve heard of such a project. I’ll need some corroboration before believing this is actually going to happen. But I will say that I think it should happen, and if Apple really has learned to listen hopefully it will.

Foundry

Trending: Top stories

Apple’s fall Mac event is likely gone forever.

The iPhone 16’s A18 chip will change everything and nothing.

Apple has an iCloud problem: The basic, free-to-all features are desperately in need of some tender ministrations.

Apple, what are you even doing? The new Apple Pencil makes no sense.

The search is over: Apple has 20 billion reasons to stick with Google.

Podcast of the week

We take a close look at the iPhone 15 Plus. What do you sacrifice when you decide to go with this phone instead of a Pro Max? And are the sacrifices worth it?

You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on SpotifySoundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.

Reviews corner

iPhone 15 Plus review: A big, beautiful compromise.

The rumor mill

Sorry, Apple isn’t releasing a new iPad this year.

Apple might actually give us a 32-inch iMac—but not for a while.

Apple’s M3 Mac roadmap gets clearer–and a bit more confusing.

The AirTag 2 reportedly won’t launch until at least 2025.

Software updates, bugs, and problems

Hackers have exploited a security flaw to target iOS 17 iPhones with a ‘notification attack’.

The new Apple Watches have a rare display issue–but a fix is on the way.

Forget new features, here’s everything that iOS 17.1 fixes.

AirPods Pro bugfix firmware 6A305 comes just a week after the last one.

Apple will soon be able to update your iPhone while it’s still in the box.

And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.

Apple Inc

​Macworld Macworld

Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.

Consumers like big screens too

Apple is much more of a listening company than it used to be. Under Steve Jobs’ tenure, the philosophy was very much one of telling: telling us what sort of tech we wanted and how we should use it. These days there’s a little more allowance for customers having their own preferences.

One way this has manifested itself (in both good and bad ways) is in multiple form factors. Jobs liked to keep the product lineups simple. Apple’s designers know best, he figured, so let’s just make our laptops and phones as good as they can be, and they’ll sell. But Cook-era Apple listens to the demand for bigger screens, or smaller phones, and is far more open to selling lots of different versions of essentially the same product. There was a time when the Mac lineup could be boiled down to four products across a neat quadrant, and the iPhone and iPad were single devices. But all three ranges have expanded and expanded to the point where even seasoned tech hacks find them confusing.

Nevertheless, it has taken Apple a long time to accept the seemingly obvious truth that size and power are not the same thing, and that there will always be customers who want one but not the other. To this day, the MacBook Pro comes in 13-, 14- and 16-inch screen sizes, and until recently, the MacBook Air was limited to 13-inch and smaller varieties. Apple has historically put more powerful processors in its larger-screened iMacs. Until 2022, you could only get the biggest iPhone screen if you also paid for a Pro-standard feature set. And the largest iPad is the 12.9-inch Pro, with the humbler standard and Air models limited to 10.9 inches.

Did the launch of the first iPhone Plus last year and the 15-inch MacBook Air, perhaps, signal an end to such blinkered thinking? As I discuss in my review of the 15 Plus, linked below, the screen is a fundamental aspect of the smartphone experience, and it’s only natural that some customers will want to prioritize it over cameras (which are arguably too good already) and processors. Other than maximizing profit from upsell, what reason is there to gatekeep the largest screen size? It’s not like the iPhone 15 Plus is cheap, it just isn’t Pro-level expensive.

I was intrigued, then, by last week’s rumors of a giant iPad Air–and by giant, of course, I mean “the same size as the larger iPad Pro.” If the iPhone Plus makes sense, then a 12.9-inch iPad Air makes sense in exactly the same way. For certain users, a big screen is worth having, and there’s no obvious reason I can see why those users are necessarily the same group who want a desktop-class processor in their tablet. For example, I use an iPad Air as a second (actually third) screen while working on my MacBook Pro–mostly showing email and playing music rather than actually mirroring or extending what’s on the laptop–and bumping up its screen size would be hugely appreciated. But I don’t need it to churn through graphically demanding apps, store multiple terabytes of data, or feature ProMotion and dual-lens cameras, and I don’t see why I should pay over the odds in order to get those things.

Of course, there’s an argument to to be made for the old prescriptive style, where you take what you’re given and privately admit that yes, Apple has done it again and the one thing they allowed you to buy is exactly what you needed. Sometimes choice is a burden; in the less consequential areas of our lives, tyranny can be a blessing. What’s more, that’s the corporate philosophy that today’s Cupertino successes were built on. But that’s not the way things are at Apple Park these days, and in most respects the company is prepared to accommodate our individual needs. It just has this odd obsession with big screens and top-of-the-line processors having to go hand in hand.

I will add, finally, that I don’t find the rumor especially convincing: details remain sparse, the source doesn’t have the best track record, and this is the first we’ve heard of such a project. I’ll need some corroboration before believing this is actually going to happen. But I will say that I think it should happen, and if Apple really has learned to listen hopefully it will.

Foundry

Trending: Top stories

Apple’s fall Mac event is likely gone forever.

The iPhone 16’s A18 chip will change everything and nothing.

Apple has an iCloud problem: The basic, free-to-all features are desperately in need of some tender ministrations.

Apple, what are you even doing? The new Apple Pencil makes no sense.

The search is over: Apple has 20 billion reasons to stick with Google.

Podcast of the week

We take a close look at the iPhone 15 Plus. What do you sacrifice when you decide to go with this phone instead of a Pro Max? And are the sacrifices worth it?

You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.

Reviews corner

iPhone 15 Plus review: A big, beautiful compromise.

The rumor mill

Sorry, Apple isn’t releasing a new iPad this year.

Apple might actually give us a 32-inch iMac—but not for a while.

Apple’s M3 Mac roadmap gets clearer–and a bit more confusing.

The AirTag 2 reportedly won’t launch until at least 2025.

Software updates, bugs, and problems

Hackers have exploited a security flaw to target iOS 17 iPhones with a ‘notification attack’.

The new Apple Watches have a rare display issue–but a fix is on the way.

Forget new features, here’s everything that iOS 17.1 fixes.

AirPods Pro bugfix firmware 6A305 comes just a week after the last one.

Apple will soon be able to update your iPhone while it’s still in the box.

And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.

Apple Inc 

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