[Update: Today (Nov. 12) Apple announced the iPad Mini with Retina Display is finally available, but only through its online store. Customers can choose to have the tablet delievered to their doorstep, or arrange for pickup at an Apple retail store. It comes in silver or space gray color variants, with shipping times estimated at one to three business days for the Wi-Fi only 16GB or 32GB versions, starting at $499. All other models, including 4G LTE versions are estimated to ship in five to 10 business days. The iPad Air, meanwhile, went on sale earlier this month.]
Apple’s new iPads pack several key features that make them better for business.
Yesterday (Oct. 22), Apple revealed the iPad Air, a new 9.4-inch iPad for $499, as well as the iPad mini with Retina Display, an updated 7.9-inch tablet with a supersharp screen for $399.
Both new tablets ship with the new cloud-based iWork office suite preinstalled.
Since iWork now integrates seamlessly with iCloud, users can collaborate on documents in real time — even from an iPad. The new online iWork portal is similar to the Google Docs suite of Web apps.
The update means users can grant other iWork users access to documents for collaborative editing via the iWork for iCloud. It also gives iPad users access to their documents from anywhere.
Both new iPads feature the high-definition Retina Display, and both feature Apple’s A7 processor for speedier browsing and snappier multitasking.
That means size will be the deciding factor for business users in the market for a new iPad. The new iPad mini features a compact, commute-friendly form factor, while the iPad Air offers more screen real estate for work.
Complicating matters, however, is a price drop for first-generation iPad mini tablet. That device, released last year for $329, will now retail for $299.
It lacks the Retina Display, and features a slower A5 chip, but it could be a good choice for cost-cutting small businesses in the market for a mobile device.
One feature touted as a new benchmark for mobile security was not added to the new iPads. TouchID, a biometric feedback sensor that lets you unlock your device by scanning your fingerprint, remains exclusive to the new iPhone 5s.
A rumored keyboard “smart cover” for the iPad Air, similar to the Type Cover 2 that launched this week with Microsoft’s second-generation Surface tablets, also did not materialize.
But business users who rely on a physical keyboard to stay productive will have options. Yesterday, Belkin unveiled the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case, an $80 add-on that features a kickstand and keyboard.