Everyone in the tech blogging sphere, from major publications to anyone with a WordPress install (hello!) is still banging on about the 7-inch iPad, but there remain fundamental problems with the reporting.
A 7.85-inch iPad would work with Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, so devs wouldn’t have to do anything.
This has most recently been trotted out by Joel Bernstein and others but isn’t a new argument. I called bullshit on it back in March, and no-one has changed my mind since. While a device of that size might technically enable well-authored apps to work within a ‘comfortable’ range for touch interaction, most devs design for the current form factor and how that feels, not for specific numbers. Games and apps are designed for hitting targets on a ten-inch device. A quick ’n’ dirty comparison here between an iPad and a smaller version (admittedly, in this case, 7 inches, not 7.85) shows how Apple’s own GarageBand would be affected if not reworked for the smaller form factor. At best, the app would be fiddlier, harder and less fun to use. Couple that with a display that’s reportedly not going to be ‘Retina’ (Daring Fireball said it could use the same display ‘sheets’ as the iPhone 3GS), and you have a device that’s by default worse to use than the larger iPad, requires additional development time for devs, and worse to look at.
Sounds much like the competition, not the iPad.
A 7-inch iPad would be just like the iPod mini.
No it bloody wouldn’t. The iPod mini arrived into a market that only had the original iPod for company from an Apple standpoint. Right now, there are already two existing ‘mini’ iOS products: the iPod touch and the iPhone. A better analogy here would be that a 7-inch iPad would be like some kind of halfway house between the iPod and the iPod mini, an iPod sort-of-in-the-middle, if you will. (And, yes, I get that some—although far from all—people are referring to the iPod mini as an example of Apple expanding the market sectors it aims at, but one can easily argue that retaining the iPad 2 did that, in enabling a lower-priced iPad to be sold.)
Apple has to respond to the growing threat of other 7-inch tablets.
Anyone writing something like this, please either do a tiny bit of research on what makes Apple tick, or do us all a favour and just stop writing articles about tech. Thanks.
Note that I don’t doubt Apple could make a 7-inch iPad. In fact, I’d be amazed if prototypes of that size didn’t exist from day-one in Cupertino (along with a range of sizes beyond the original iPad’s form factor). But if Apple releases one into the wild, it’ll have a lot of questions to answer surrounding usability and quality, and I’d hope there would be something in the device that makes it more than a me-too product beyond it being an iPad.
The one thing that makes me cautious on dismissing the 7-inch iPad rumour entirely (if not much of the writing about the device) is that iPod touch sales are in the toilet and that line continues to decline. Perhaps an iPad mini could be a replacement of sorts—a new, more powerful small(ish) iOS device. Apple’s happily killed products before, to ensure it didn’t stagnate (including the original and popular iPod mini, which was unceremoniously dumped in favour of the iPod nano), but the company has also regularly evolved existing products. So while we could see a new iPad, there’s the possibility the iPod touch will grow a bit, in terms of screen size and/or feature set, and perhaps be rebranded; although the first of those things would still require dev work for fully optimised apps, it could with a Retina display still look really good (if not as pin-sharp as the iPhone and existing iPod touch), although there remains the issue that ‘phablet’-sized devices hardly set the world alight when they came from other vendors.