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iPad – leading or chasing the market?

iPad 5 release date unpredictable • Pressure on Apple from Microsoft and Android to innovate faster • Slow and steady wins the race?


While the rumour mills seem to be converging on a 20th September release date for the next iteration of the iPhone, the picture is less clear with the new iPad. While the original iPad launched in May 2010, and the iPads 2 and 3 had a March launch, the iPad 4 disrupted the pattern by coming out just seven and a half months later, in November 2012. So with the new iPhone pegged for a release alongside iOS 7, Apple’s next-gen operating system, many people are wondering: when will the iPad arrive? Further, many more are wondering what this new device will actually bring to the table – will Apple show its roots as a bold innovator by introducing a set of smart new features, or will it instead focus on market demands that have arisen through the developments seen with other similar products, and specifically Android tablets?

It’s an interesting question, but some might say that the question is academic anyway. What Apple is really good at is perfecting products. Samsung’s scatter-gun approach to features has yielded some fantastic tools – such as a wider range of smart gestures, multitasking capabilities and a quick settings panel – but can also be off-putting to users who want to be able to instinctively understand how to use their device from the first switch-on. Microsoft went ahead and integrated its mobile and desktop operating systems for use with the Surface ‘tabtops’, but didn’t quite manage to equate this to launch success. This was mostly due to a strong negative reaction from Microsoft’s core user base, which was very vocal about its disapproval of certain noticeable aspects of the OS, like the missing Start menu (which Microsoft was all but forced into re-adding). Yet both Samsung and Microsoft have reinvigorated their brands by overhauling their products, and as a result, there has been an increasing pressure on Apple this year to innovate that simply hasn’t been felt in a long time. However, Apple has deliberately waited until iOS 7 to introduce its Control Center, which is a much smarter, appealing and functional iteration of the quick settings panel seen elsewhere, while the integration of iOS and OS X has been a long, slow but very progressive march to unity, which importantly hasn’t estranged any core users.

So the question is this: is Apple leading or chasing the market? At first glance, the answer might appear straightforward – Apple is playing catch-up by rolling out features that have already been released by competing manufacturers, so it must be chasing. Think again, though. When the new iPad comes out, sporting iOS 7 as well as a lighter, thinner design and whatever new tricks the Apple wizards put up its sleeve, the functionality that appears to have been missing will not only arrive in style, it will blow its forerunners out of the water. Consider AirDrop versus NFC; the former works perfectly, at long range, and entirely naturally to the user, while the latter requires a tap-and-bump that few people would ever perform in the real world, not to mention the difference in security. So when Apple hangs back on releasing its own version of a newly invented feature, that’s because it is actually going back to the drawing board with the concept, refining it, making sure that it’s an improvement to the product rather than an added new feature for its own sake. Leaving aside the issues of timing and originality for a moment, and focusing instead on the perceived success of features, when the iPad 5 comes out it will automatically become the pack leader. The ‘missing’ features – missing because they weren’t thrown out into the world fresh from the laboratories – will be present to such an extent that you couldn’t imagine using an iPad without AirDrop, or Control Center, or gesture-controlled multitasking. Compare that with the Galaxy Note 8.0, which takes a Swiss Army approach to the quick settings panel, or Android Beam on the Nexus 7, which is unusable unless you are face-to-face with your intended recipient, ready to high-five your tablets.

When you get right down to brass tacks, Apple is doing what Apple has always done. Perfecting products and features, rather than chasing second positions with quick reproductions of first-past-the-post launches. Seamlessly integrating hardware and software into beautifully simple yet powerfully equipped user experiences. Creating devices that are simply the best in their class, with quality a key consideration at every level, from the way the chipboards are designed to the careful consistency between iOS icons. And Apple offers a clear vision of its ecosystem, with both perfection of form and accessibility of content forming the foundation of its product philosophy. Essentially, it’s business as usual for the sharpest knife in the apps and devices drawer.

Forget about release dates then. Look at it in terms of which product is better at realising the potential of a new feature idea; Apple wins, every time, because its permutations are thought through, well-executed and intuitive to use. That being said though, it always helps to have a clear, direct guide to hand when you are using the iPad for the first time. While it’s accessible enough for you dive in and play around with from the get-go, you’ll get so much more out of your device if you take a few moments to read about the all-powerful Settings app, look up the notification bar icons and see what they all mean, and learn how to navigate effectively by making use of all the Multi-Touch gestures. Since the one thing that Apple forgot to put in the box with the new iPad is a comprehensive instruction book, Imagine Publishing has stepped up to provide you with iPad The Complete Manual. Taking you from the initial iPad setup right through to editing your holiday photos on the go, this Complete Manual answers every question you could have about your iPad, and shows you exactly why Apple is leading the market. At just £7.99, it’s a real steal – grab your copy from the high street today, or pop over to and get it delivered straight to your front door.

iPad The Complete Manual