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iOS developers weigh in on the iPad Air's potential and what they wish Apple had included

by Doug Drinkwater

October 28 2013

Apple’s super slim and fast iPad Air is getting iOS developers excited, even if some of them lament the absence of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

It’s fair to say that Apple hasn’t made wholesale changes with the iPad Air, but there are clear improvements. The newest iPad arrives with the much-touted 64-bit A7 processor, slimmer bezels and super slim (7.5mm thick) design and weight (just one pound exactly).

Some of the changes under the hood have been getting developers interested, and the 64-bit A7 processor in particular has been a big topic of conversation.

Andrian Budantsov, CTO of productivity app developer Readdle, told TabTimes that the company is excited about the potential of the processor and the possibility of extra RAM (Apple hasn't yet announced how much the iPad Air will come with, although 2GB would give developers better multi-tasking performance).

"I don't think right now that the iPad Air will bring any dramatic changes for developers besides coding and QA [quality assurance] overhead. Once we update our apps for arm64, we will have to make sure that app works both on older 32-bit iPads and newer 64-bit ones."

Writing for iPhone Life, Todd Bernhard, the founder of app developer No Tie Software, said that he sees a future of powerful iPad apps, with more speed and better graphics.

“Developers can write apps that take advantage of that chip to write new apps and even games that detect a broad range of motion. The 64-bit capability means data can flow throughout the system at twice the speed, which can be useful for video, graphics, and gaming as well as other users.

(Worth reading: Behind Apple's new iPads is a push to extend its software edge & iPad Air -- the 'lightest full-sized tablet in the world' joins new iPad mini)

Other developers took to Twitter on the day of the announcement to praise the fact that the iPad Air has the same pixel dimensions as the Retina Display iPad mini, while others applauded the design parity across all iOS devices.

“Jaw-dropping: iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPhone 5s run identical hardware (CPU/GPU/WiFi/sensors). Unprecedented volume consistency for developers”, tweeted iOS developer Nat Brown.

Touch ID absence makes the heart grow fonder

In the lead up to the launch party, there had been speculation – and even public sightings – of an iPad with a Touch ID sensor, the fingerprint sensor which already features on the iPhone 5S.

However, Apple reportedly doesn’t have the supply in place yet to cater to the likely iPad demand and this disappointed iOS developers who had hoped it would add an additional security layer.

"As a customer I am disappointed a little bit that I have to wait one year more for iPad with Touch ID," said Budantsov. "But it is pretty much irrelevant from a developer view: there is no API, so third-party apps could not take any advantage of it."

(App Development: The right way to build your tablet app will be a key session at the upcoming TabletBiz conference & expo coming to New York on November 13, 2013)

"We're really excited about Touch ID, which is great for security. A lot of our customers care a great deal about security, and this will be a great way to make the product even more useful for them,” Quip co-founder Kevin Gibbs told TabTimes prior to the announcement.

Meanwhile, some developers are reserving judgement until they get their hands on the iPad Air, due to go on sale November 1. Bill Burgar, CEO and creator of the Meeting Gold iPad app, thinks that there could be other subtle improvements.

“More speed and less weight are always going to be good in a tablet. Looking beyond the headlines it is the sum total of the many small improvements that will set the iPad Air apart from the competition. They are the things that you don't necessarily notice until you compare the whole qualitative experience of using the device against its competitors.”

(For more iPad news, reviews and features, subscribe to the free TabTimes for iPad newsletter).

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.
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