Apple’s iPad Air 2: Thin Yet Powerful
Following the release of its iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus a few weeks ago, last week Apple released the long-awaited iPad Air 2, the thinnest and most powerful iPad ever. Weighing less than a pound, it features an improved Retina display for more vibrant colors, and better cameras. Plus, the previously iPhone-exclusive Touch ID fingerprint sensor was added, to make your app purchases easier, especially with the new Apple Pay feature.
In iPad Air 2’s guts there is a new Apple-designed A8X chip, which is a 40 percent improvement in CPU performance and 2.5 times the graphics performance of the original iPad Air, yet still gives you a 10-hour battery life. Combined with Metal, the new graphics technology in iOS 8.1, the A8X chip unlocks realistic visual effects comparable to the most advanced gaming consoles.
It also includes the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion from your accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and an all-new barometer that senses air pressure to provide relative elevation.
It comes preloaded with iOS 8.1, which has the Continuity feature across iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. This enables all your Apple products to work seamlessly together. Handoff allows you to begin an activity on one device and pass it to another, and when your iPhone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your iPad, you can make and receive phone calls right from your iPad. How sweet is that?
Best of all, this new iPad is extremely thin. It’s only 6.1 millimeters (less than a quarter of an inch) thick. It’s available in white, black or gold, and prices range from $499/16GB to $829/128GB. An iPad mini 3 also was announced, and prices for that start at $299.
Going back to the Apple Pay feature mentioned earlier, the Touch ID sensor is very useful, as you don’t have to enter a password to make purchases, but you won’t be able to purchase things in a physical store (as you can with the iPhone 6) since there is no NFC chip.
Oh, and it’s no longer just a concept — Apple Pay went live last week.
In addition to 262 Apple Stores worldwide, you can use it in various physical stores, such as Babies R Us, Disney Store, Foot Locker, McDonald’s, Subway, Walgreens and Sephora, to name a few.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet, but you hold your iPhone near the contactless reader while keeping a finger on your Touch ID. It supports credit and debit cards from American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
With the recent large breach at Home Depot, I know security is the top concern. Apple Pay is designed to protect your personal information. It does not collect any transaction information or history that can be tied back to a user, and each transaction occurs among you, the merchant and your bank. So far, only about 20 apps are Apple Pay ready (including Target, Disney Store and Uber), but more to come soon.