Apple has run out of ideas for the iPad

Thursday’s Apple event was the least interesting product unveiling the company has had in years. The company debuted the iPad Air 2, but this time it wasn’t anything to write home about—just more of the same from Apple.

I got rid of my iPad last year. Up until that point, I had purchased nearly every iPad that was released. What I realized, as I contemplated buying the iPad Air last November, is that Apple has run out of ideas for the iPad.

Sit back and take a look at the iPad line. From the original iPad in 2010 to the iPad Air, few things have actually changed. Sure it’s faster, as all products are compared to those released in 2010, but the Retina display is the only major addition to the iPad line since the original. 

The only other way Apple has changed the iPad is to make it thinner and lighter. Constantly. With no rhyme or reason, and no end to the shrinkage. Apple could have improved battery life to unseen levels—an iPad that lasts a week would be great—but an obsession with thinness has rendered the iPad little more than an ever-thinning iPhone with a gigantic display that can’t make phone calls—the same thing critics dubbed it as back in 2010.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in 2012, when Apple released the iPad 3 with a Retina display—a true revolution in tablet technology—it looked like we were on the way to another rapidly improving category led by Apple, but that hasn’t been the case. That was the last iPad update that offered a “must have” feature.

Apple likes to compare sales of its iPad to PC sales numbers, but unlike a computer, Apple hasn’t made any real strides with the operating system. No significant software improvements like split screen apps have come in four years, and none of Apple’s patented “features you won’t know you want until we make them” have shown up. Just more of the same old, same old.

I haven’t even mentioned the iPad mini 3, which is the biggest sham in the industry right now. Apple threw a touch ID sensor into an iPad mini 2 and is touting it as a brand new product. It’s telling that in the press release about the new iPads, Apple only gave the iPad mini 3 one paragraph in a 13 paragraph release.

This isn’t a case of bigger iPhones upending the iPad line. That wouldn’t be an issue if the iPads could do something different than the iPhone. This isn’t a case of Apple not offering up a “revolutionary” iPad. We just need an evolutionary version, with noteworthy features that doesn’t just revolve around the iPad getting thinner and lighter.

In the last 14 years, Apple has shifted the technology landscape three times with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Right now, it’s starting to look like the life span of two of those devices have foreseeable end dates—and the iPhone isn’t on the chopping block. 

Apple has all but run out of ideas for the iPad, or it may not have had any in the first place. If you already have an iPad with a Retina display, there is no real reason to buy the iPad Air 2 or the iPad mini 3. There’s no reason to buy any new iPad until Apple can figure out there is more to a tablet than how thin and light it is.

At this point, leaps in software technology—a dramatic improvement in iOS on the iPad—and hardware improvements that don’t revolve around shrinking the device are the only things that will save the iPad from ending up in iPod territory, with people asking, “Why do I even need this when my phone can do it all?”

Yes, Apple will sell millions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Not because they offer something different, but simply because they are labeled as new. Apple has reached the point with many buyers that releasing something new and shiny is just as good as releasing a product that is actually better than its predecessor. But new doesn’t automatically equal better for me, and it shouldn’t for you either.

Photo via Apple

Micah Singleton

Micah Singleton

Micah Singleton is a former technology and culture reporter of the Daily Dot and a former staff writer at Gizmodo. His work has also appeared in Time, Yahoo, the Verge, Mashable, ReadWrite, and NBC. Singleton was named a "rising star" by the Huffington Post in 2013.