As sure as there will be Apple keynotes and product announcement, there will also be posts about what we didn't get. They're like PB&J. They just go together.
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What we didn’t get in today’s iPad announcement, and a few surprises that we did

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As is our custom after the excitement of pouring over the new gear and software in each Apple  announcement, now it’s time to turn our attention to what we didn’t get today. Considering all of the wide-ranging rumors over the last couple of months, there are plenty of things that were mentioned at some point that we didn’t hear about. Here are the major items that stood out to me:

 

1. No Touch ID

iPhone-touchThe absence of Apple’s latest security tech is surprising, but then again it isn’t. Touch ID fingerprint sensors are probably in short supply right now, as Apple is still selling iPhone 5Ss as soon as it can roll them out of the factory. Also, we have to remember that the iPhone is usually the primary device in the Apple lineup. Apple’s Retina display debuted on the iPhone, as well as their in-plane screen technology, so the fact that it got Touch ID first shouldn’t come as a surprise.

However, while common sense should dictate that Apple would pass on Touch ID in this generation, the iPad is the current tablet of choice for enterprise customers. And what are enterprise IT departments concerned with above almost everything else? That’s right- Security. This fact means that Touch ID makes perfect sense for the iPad, especially the Air. I personally thought we would see it on the larger screen iPad, but not the Mini. In the end, the supply this early in the feature’s lifespan was probably just too much of an issue, so Apple put it off until next year.

 

2. No Major Camera Upgrade

This was a bit of a surprise to me. The iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S all have 8 megapixel iSight cameras, so it was natural to assume that at least the older version would make its way to the new iPad Air. Not so, however. According to Phil Schiller, the Air’s 5 megapixel camera did get an upgraded sensor and image processor, so it should be a little better than those on the iPad 3 and iPad 4. However, for the growing number of people who for some odd reason are drawn to taking pictures with their tablets rather than smartphones or point and shoot cameras, disappointment awaits.

 

3. No 802.11ac WiFi

When Tim Cook started talking about new WiFi features, I expected the next slide would surely have 802.11ac on it. No so. The slide instead had MIMO, which is included on both new iPads. But no ac.

The new AirPort routers have this new WiFi standard, but none of Apple’s latest generation of mobile devices do. That seems odd, but I guess they have to save something for next year.

 

4. No Surface-like Keyboard Cover

Microsoft-Surface_thumb.jpgTech pundits everywhere were pretty certain that Apple was about to Sherlock both Microsoft, and a whole lotta accessory makers, as Bluetooth keyboard cases rank as one of the top accessories for all iPad models. The design and wording of this event’s announcement just added fuel to the fire. However, it looks like Apple just trolled the tech blogosphere, as not only did it not release a new keyboard case, but even the cases that it did announce were just iterations of current models. I’m sure whoever leaked this rumor had a nice laugh, as did the marketing guys at Apple as everyone tried to read the tea leaves in their announcement.

 

5. No Price cut for the iPad 2

I honestly don’t get this at all. Who the hell is going to buy a 2 1/2 year old tablet that just barely runs the current OS for $399? I guess that Apple wanted to avoid the confusion of having the new iPad Mini cost more than a larger screen device, but that argument still doesn’t hold water. The iPad 2 just isn’t worth that much after today. It should be $299, just like the iPad Mini. I have a feeling that it will be at many retailers.

 

6. Does the iPod still exist?

ipod touch colorYou wouldn’t know it today. Since the iPod Touch line got a refresh last year, and even quietly got a new low-end model with no camera earlier in the year, I didn’t expect a refresh of that line today. The Nano was redesigned last year, too. However, there are other models of iPod. The Shuffle and Classic are pretty long in the tooth. Not a peep. Has the device that began Apple’s march toward becoming a mobile empire become completely invisible? I think today’s silence is a good indication that the answer is yes. Is any of this important? I guess not, but considering that this used to be the iPod/iTunes/Music event in the Apple lineup, this does mark the end of an era.

 

While the six items mentioned above were the most realistic possibilities that didn’t come to pass, there were many other rumors that were more far fetched. It seems that the mythical Apple TV (the one that’s supposed to an actual TV) and iWatch both show up on the radar before every Apple event, only to be dismissed as “coming soon.” Maybe one day, they’ll actually arrive. Then there was the intriguing fringe rumor of a larger screen iPad. Something in the neighborhood of 12″. Not this year, but we can always hope.

As for Apple’s neglected services and software that I talked about in an article yesterday, we really only heard what we expected today. Maps has come to Mavericks, but we didn’t hear another peep about it. iWork, iLife, and iWork in the Cloud got their makeovers, and iCloud Keychain finally showed up on iOS today in the 7.0.3 update, but we didn’t hear anything about improvements to the rest of iCloud. There was also no talk of keyboards or game controllers.

So that’s about it for what we didn’t get. However, Apple did manage to keep a few secrets close enough to the vest that they were some surprises in today’s event. Here are a few to cheer you up after all the bad news:

 

1. iPad Air

Apple bucking the industry-wide tradition of using unique names for all mobile devices and re-naming the iPad X to just The iPad a year and a half ago went over like a lead balloon, so I’m not surprised that they changed course a little bit. At least now there is some model differentiation. The surprise is that, as many things as there are that come up in the Apple rumor mill, today was the first I had heard of this. Judging by reactions around the tech blogosphere, I’m not the only one who was surprised.

 

2. The iPad 2’s Stay of Execution

Hindsight is 20/20, I guess. I do understand why Apple chose to keep this model around, rather than the current 4th generation. The Retina display is harder and more expensive to produce, so they will make a lot more profit per device selling the older model. I’ve already said my piece about the value of the iPad 2 at the current price after today’s announcement, but the decision to keep it in the lineup is sound. It was still a surprise, though.

 

3. The New iPad Mini’s Feature Parity

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This was definitely a big surprise. The iPad Mini was positioned like the iPod Touch and iPhone 5C at last year’s unveiling, sporting the previous generation’s processor and screen tech. It was basically an iPad 2 in a smaller form factor. This lead to a lot of discussion leading up to today’s announcement about whether the new Mini would even get a Retina display, or just see a modest spec bump.

Surprise! I personally expected the Mini would have a Retina display, but not all of the other goodies that it ended up with. It now has feature parity with big brother, and a higher price tag to match. I don’t know if anyone called that in advance.

 

4. iWork for iCloud Collaboration 

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This one really came out of left field, and may have been the biggest surprise of the day. Plenty of users have been begging for this since they got to play with Apple’s well-done iWork web apps, but I didn’t see anyone predicting it.

Whatever Apple’s reasons for offering this feature, it is definitely a shot across the bow’s of Google and Microsoft. It seems that Apple is no longer content to let iWork and iLife wither on the vine. It looks like Apple is finally trying in earnest to build a suite of online software and services that can truly compete with Microsoft and Google. Make no mistake, they still have a long way to go. However, if iWork for iCloud is any indication, they are finally putting in the kind of effort that is necessary to be successful long term.

 

Is there something you were longing to hear about in today’s announcement but didn’t? Any surprises that really got your attention? if so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below,on Twitter @jhrogersii, or on Google+. I would love to hear from you.

 

 

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