Apple's iPad updates could be compelling for enterprise developers
by Ron Miller
Yes, we know the new iPad Air is thin, but the announcements this week about the latest i-device and it's little brother, the new iPad Mini aren't exactly earth shattering on the surface. But enterprise developers may be surprised to learn, you could take advantage of what's under the hood.
That's because these babies come with A7 64-bit chip and that M7 motion processor and these elements could give you something new to work with. While I've written how the A7 chip might not matter as much you think on the iPhone, at least for a while, these chips could be a bigger deal on the iPads, according to Todd Anglin, executive VP of Cross-Platform Tools and Services at Telerik.
Anglin said the iPad Air and iPad Mini should be reliable platforms for building apps. "The A7 chips, first introduced in the iPhone 5S, ensure even the most rigorous of apps will run fast, and the new M7 motion co-processor will unlock new app opportunities in the tablet form factor."
Although Anglin cautions the hardware isn't there yet to take full advantage of the A7 chip, he believes the iPad may offer more opportunity in the enterprise than the iPhone simply because of the type of apps people will develop for it. "It’s possible the A7 could benefit the iPad faster than the iPhone simply because it’s more likely that app developers will push the iPad harder to be a substitute for traditional computing tasks," Anglin told me.
But he says until we see more memory in these devices, developers won't be able to take full advantage of the 64-bit architecture for some time. "Of course, Apple controls the RAM in its tablets, and the latest generation is still far from exceeding the 32-bit 4GB limit. I expect we’ll be talking about the A8X or A9 before we’re talking about Apple tablets with that much memory," he said.
Anglin added, "Until then, the standard benefits of improved speed and better battery life that come with a new Apple chip should apply equally to the iPad and iPhone."
But if you're looking for something to take advantage of today, Anglin believes the M7 processor might offer more compelling possiblities. "It opens-up all kinds of additional opportunities for developers to integrate “always on” sensors in to their apps. The basic sensors exposed by the M7 --accelerometer, gyroscope, compass --are nothing new to Apple’s devices, but the ability to access them at all times, even when the device is sleeping, is very new," he explained.
This will make the device much more efficient and developers can take advantage of that. "Developers can now build apps that are always “listening” for motion without also draining a device’s battery. This will spawn everything from the obvious “activity tracker” apps to improved navigation apps to new kinds of context aware usability patterns that improve app usability when a device is in motion," he said.
He believes this capability could produce some truly interesting results. "You could imagine future apps simplifying their UI or even disabling features if the app detects the user is driving or walking versus sitting still. I’m very excited to see what app developers will do," Anglin told me.
It's easy to look at the iPad updates, shrug your shoulders, and say it's only an incremental change, but if you look under the hood, you might find there's something you can work with there, and that could be exciting for developers looking to take advantage of these updates.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Apple
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