Today, Apple released a deluge of new products. Some of these products ran iOS, while others ran Mac OS X. And while the Mac products are just as exciting, they will never sell as well as Apple’s iOS-powered lineup.
Apple also did something strange today: it broke an upgrade pattern for one of its signature products. The iPad was updated today, out of its usual spring release cycle, with a fantastic new A6X processor, as well as the addition of the Lightning port.
Besides running iOS, there are two items that every iOS device upgraded within the last two months (which, as of today, includes literally every iOS-powered line Apple offers) include.
Many people have focused on the addition of the Lightning port as being Apple’s power-play for this generation. While every new device does feature a Lightning port, this connector is a much smaller story than many are making it out to be. Yes, the iPad was updated out of cycle and received one, but it also received something much more important: it received a processor which doesn’t strain to power its retina display.
My guess is that Apple has pushed to update each of its product lines with more powerful processors for the following reason: iOS 7 will need it. For reasons only Apple currently knows, iOS 7 (likely to be shipped next year in the fall, though it’s possible that the upgrade cycle will be broken again) likely requires more processing power. It’s a well-known fact that the A5X was enough to power the iPad 3′s retina display – but only just barely. While I don’t see Apple cutting support for the iPad 3 within the next two years, it does seem possible that the iPad 3 simply didn’t have the processing power that Apple wanted to work with for iOS 7 (and beyond).
Since the holidays are traditionally the best season for Apple’s products, it makes sense that Apple didn’t want a slightly-underpowered iPad being under the tree and in the homes of millions of customers, all of which would have to be supported for years to come.