Apple is hardly done with its product announcements for 2014. Following its release of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the announcement of Apple Watch, the company is expected to update to its 9.7-inch iPad Air in October.
The tablet, which may be called the iPad Air 2, has yet to be announced. But rumors and details of Apple’s tablet have been leaking out at a steady pace since the summer. From processor upgrades to Touch ID, here’s what you should expect on the iPad Air 2 this fall.
Touch ID and Apple Pay
This may be the year for Touch ID on the iPad. The biometric feature was expected by some to make its way onto the iPad Air after the release of the iPhone 5S, but it didn’t come about when the iPad Air was introduced in 2013.
Looks like the next iPad is getting Touch ID pic.twitter.com/HuqrJrYE58
â€” Hamza Sood (@hamzasood) September 30, 2014
Touch ID could be featured in the next iPad, as indicated by some code present in iOS 8.1’s beta code, which indicates that Apple may rollout Apple Pay to its iPad lineup:
“Pay with iPad using Touch ID. With Apple Pay, you no longer need to type card numbers and shipping information.”
But it isn’t clear if Apple plans to introduce near-field communication, or NFC, with the next iPad Air as well.
The iPad Air may come with a little more variety this time around. Current models come in Space Gray and Silver. Joining the two is likely a gold-color option, which would bring the iPad Air 2’s color choices in line with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus offerings.
While Apple may introduce a faster variant of the company’s A8 processor, the A8X, it will likely be used to power a rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The X series of processors had previously been used in Apple’s iPads, but when the company moved to the 64-bit A7 processor, it opted to use the chip across most of its new devices in 2013.
Instead, the iPad Air 2 may sport the 1.4 GHz A8 processor used in the iPhone 6, though it’s unknown at what speed it will run in Apple's tablet.
Memory and storage
Apple may up the iPad Air 2’s RAM capacity to 2GB, from 1GB in the current model, TechNews Taiwan reported. Though storage option changes could happen, there hasn’t been any indication of a deviation from the current offering of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.
Photos of a purported replica of the iPad Air 2’s casing indicates recessed volume buttons and redesigned larger speaker holes on each side of the lightning port, according to French tech blog NowhereElse. The body is also expected to be thinner than the current iPad Air, which is only 7.5mm thick.
The iPad Air 2’s touchscreen is expected to remain at 9.7 inches, and Samsung will reportedly supply the screens for the iPad Air 2, according to Taiwan’s DigiTimes. The screen may also feature an in-plane switching, or IPS display, such as the one featured on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. But the resolution may remain the same at 2048x1536 pixels.
While competitor tablets from Microsoft and Samsung have provided split-screen multitasking for some time, it has been absent from Apple’s iPad since its release in 2010. Early iOS 8 beta code had references that pointed to split-screen functionality, the Verge reported. Yet, the feature was nowhere to be found when Apple released iOS 8 in September. But with an improved processor and larger memory, the iPad Air 2 could have the potential to support split-screen multitasking.
If Apple continues its current pricing structure, the iPad Air 2 should start at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model and $629 for the 16GB Wi-Fi and mobile data model.
The iPad Air 2 is expected to be announced sometime in October along with a number of updates to Apple’s lineup, including a 27-inch “5K” display iMac and a new Mac Mini.