The new iPad Air was announced by Apple at its much-anticipated reveal event in San Francisco yesterday. For tablet gamers, there were two keys pieces of news. First, the company is releasing a more powerful iPad, named the iPad Air on November 1. Secondly, there'll be a faster Retina-enabled iPad Mini 2 hitting Apple Stores towards the end of the same month.
What does all this mean for mobile and tablet gaming though? We're starting with a look at the new features of the iPad Air, and what they could mean for the future of gaming on the go.
Neat and tidy "X times" descriptions are a little nebulous and to to be viewed with a certain amount of healthy skepticism. Nevertheless, Apple is claiming that the iPad Air offers double the graphics performance of the current fourth-generation iPad. The A7 CPU powering the iPad Air results in CPU performance that's also eight times faster than the original iPad, apparently.
Needless to say, this pushes Apple's tablet hardware even closer to current-gen console standards. Expect to see even prettier touchscreen games in the future, with much improved physics effects thanks to that beefy CPU. We may also see Apple's screen-streaming Airplay system get a boost in popularity when the end result is a crisper, prettier picture on your television.
Lighter, Thinner, More Portable
The more portable the iPad becomes, the more convenient it becomes, and that means it's even easier to take complex touchscreen games away from the home.
Apple confirmed yesterday that the iPad Air will weigh a single solitary pound - pretty light when you consider the weight of the current iPad is 1.4 pounds. It's 20% thinner too, making it even easier to tuck away when you head to school or work.
More High Profile Ports
The last 12 months or so has seen an explosion in the number of PC games making an appearance on iPads after their initial release. With the iPad Air capable of punching significantly above the weight of its predecessors, we expect that trend to continue, as more and more PC gamers expect the ability to take their home gaming experience on the go with them.
As long as there are slow-paced games that favor brainpower over frantic fingerwork, we think the iPad Air is even more likely to become the second platform of choice for even greater numbers of PC games.
For better or worse, plenty of mobile and tablet games require an always-on connection to function fully, or even at all. The iPad Air will feature much faster WiFi functionality, so you can expect updates, purchases, and initial downloads to intrude much less on your precious gaming time at home.