Apple revealed new iPads last Thursday. This included a new iPad Air 2, thinner and faster than ever with TouchID, and the iPad Mini 3, the same as the iPad Mini 2, but with a gold color option and Touch ID sensor. They also have continued to sell the iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, and even the first generation iPad Mini for a reduced rate. This is Apple’s problem. The first iPad Mini is just $249 right now, which will make it very popular. Unfortunately, it also uses a processor that is now 3 years old, and slower than the any other iOS device Apple currently sells. Apple and third party developers will now need to support the slowest iOS device for a few years, and developers aren’t happy about that.
Consider a high profile game for iOS. The developers could have to tone down the graphics in the game to support all iOS devices. Certainly it would look better if it only had to support the latest iOS devices. It’s a familliar issue with Android developers, who have to support many devices with varying performance capabilities. Clearly it’s not as bad on iOS as Android, as there are far fewer iOS devices running old versions of the OS, and fewer devices to support, but it’s becoming a problem now that Apple hasn’t retired their iPad Mini.
The iPad Mini 2 is just $50 more than the iPad Mini, and it’s a much better deal. For just $50, you get a retina display, and a 64 bit A7 processor instead of the much slower A5 processor in the iPad Mini. Really, the iPad Mini would be a foolish purchase right now. That doesn’t change the fact that Apple has created a problem for itself and third party developers by continuing to sell it. Now they’ll need to support it for some time to come, at most, three years.
App developers have three options: they can scale their apps down for the older devices, they can create apps that automatically scale for the device they’re on, or they can ignore older devices altogether. The first option makes their apps look subpar. The second option requires more work, and can make the app larger. Apple has a 2GB limit on the size of apps, so developers are a bit limited on how much they can scale their apps. Finally, the last option brings in some fragementation. It’s an unpleasant experience for users to go to the App Store, find an app they like, and find it doesn’t work on their device.
Apple has a problem on their hands with the iPad Mini. If you’re considering getting an iPad Mini, find an extra $50 and get an iPad Mini 2 instead. As for Apple, they should seriously consider what devices they continue selling. The iPad Mini shouldn’t be on shelves anymore, but as long as customers continue to buy it, Apple’s going to be reluctant to stop selling it.