iPad Air 2020 wishlist: 5 features I hope Apple adds to the iPad Air 4
Well, Apple has announced an event for September 15. It's speculated that we'll see a brand new Apple Watch there, but also a brand new iPad Air. The iPad Air 2020 is rumored to be a major update for Apple's mid-level tablet.
I might be a heavy iPad Pro user, but I'm still intrigued to see what Apple has in store for the new iPad Air. Here's what I hope to see in the iPad Air 2020.
The iPad Air goes pro
I deeply love the design language that Apple introduced with the iPad Pro 2018 and continued with the iPad Pro 2020. The flat edges harken back to my favorite iPhone designs, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. And the screen, with its rounded corners and even bezels on all sides, is one of Apple's best.
I've long wanted this iPad Pro design to come to other iPads, and it seems that, with iPad Air 4, I may finally get my wish. The design of the iPad Air 3 has been in use in one form or another since the original iPad mini in 2012 with tweaks here and there over time. Frankly, it's time for a new take.
And like the current iPad Air 3, I would expect the iPad Air 2020 to retain the physical dimensions of the 11-inch iPad Pro, even if the bezels were slightly thicker, which would account for the slightly smaller screen.
One thing that this design would enable, at least in theory, is Apple Pencil 2 support, which is great because…
Apple Pencil 2 moves down the line
Right after adopting the iPad Pro's design language, I want to see Apple bring support for the Apple Pencil 2 down to the iPad Air. From the charging/pairing situation to its look and feel, I think the Apple Pencil 2 is superior in every respect to the first-generation model currently supported by the iPad Air.
If Apple is indeed bringing the iPad Pro's design language to the iPad Air 2020, there's a better than zero chance that it will also add the magnetic inductive charging area for the Apple Pencil 2. This is one of the things that makes the Pencil 2 a joy. Instead of plugging the Pencil into the port on the bottom of the iPad and having it stick out awkwardly, the iPad Pro enables the Apple Pencil 2 to magnetically attach to its side and charge inductively, giving you easy charging and transport in one convenient spot.
I suspect that Apple will bring this support to a redesigned iPad Air. First, doing so would increase sales of the more-expensive Apple Pencil 2. Second, they already have the parts to do so. And third, it might be a little difficult to charge a first-generation Apple Pencil if my next wish also comes true.
USB-C makes everything more compatible
The addition of USB-C to the iPad Pro was one of my favorite features back in 2018, and it remains a highlight of the device to this day. I regularly use it to transfer large images to an external drive, move files from my mirrorless camera to my iPad for editing, and when I need to make a backup of my iPad Pro to my Mac, it's so much faster than it used to be.
All of these use cases and more would be equally valid on the iPad Air. When it launched, the iPad Air 3 was a surprisingly capable machine, and I see no reason to believe that the iPad Air 2020 will be any less capable. If that's the case, then the iPad Air 4 will be an excellent machine for creative professionals, office workers, students, and more.
USB-C lets you plug in all sorts of accessories without an adapter. Cameras, disks, even USB audio interfaces for use with XLR microphones. I've used all of these and more with my iPad Pro, and I'd love to see these capabilities expand down the iPad lineup.
A hard truth to Face (ID)
This one, I don't actually think we'll get, but I would love to be wrong. Look, I'm on the record believing that Face ID is generally superior to Touch ID on the iPhone. But I think it's vastly superior to Touch ID on the iPad. This is particularly true if you regularly use a keyboard and mouse or trackpad with your iPad.
You don't often think about the things you need to authorize in a given day, but if you're me, it's kind of a lot. Each individual placement of my finger on a Touch ID sensor isn't a difficulty, but add them up over the course of a day, a week, a month, and it can get tedious in the aggregate.
With Face ID, I don't need to do anything. That's what makes it so much better. While an individual hand movement to touch a fingerprint scanner might not be a hardship, compared to doing nothing at all, it's practically work for goodness' sake. It's just so convenient.
Unfortunately, I don't think Face ID is happening for the iPad Air 2020. Current rumors indicate that Apple is putting a new Touch ID sensor in the sleep/wake button on the iPad Air, and I don't think we'll see Face ID in the tablet just yet due to the added costs of the TrueDepth camera.
A magical typing experience
The support for trackpads and mice has been a game-changer for my iPad use. I now use my iPad Pro for most of my everyday work in a way that I just couldn't before. The Magic Keyboard has also proven to be an excellent (if absurdly expensive) accessory for the iPad Pro. I'd love to see it come to the iPad Air.
Now, you might say to yourself that the Magic Keyboard is $299. The iPad Air is (likely) going to cost $499. You want to add 60% to your purchase price. Well, I certainly don't. But support for the current Magic Keyboard for the 11-inch iPad Pro would also mean support for another accessory: the Logitech Folio Touch.
The Logitech Folio Touch is a keyboard/case combo for the 11-inch iPad Pro from, you guessed it, Logitech. The keyboard on the case comes with a built-in trackpad, as well as a function row, something many lamented the absence of on the Magic Keyboard. It's an all-in-one keyboard/trackpad solution that also uses the iPad's Smart Connector, rather than Bluetooth or USB, for power and data.
You'll also find that the Logitech Folio Touch is much less expensive than the Magic Keyboard, coming in at $160, rather than $299. That's a much easier pill to swallow. And since I think it's likely that the new iPad Air has the same physical dimensions as the 11-inch iPad Pro, that would make it compatible not only with the smaller Magic Keyboard but the Logitech Folio Touch, too.
All of this would make turning your iPad Air into a laptop alternative much more financially viable.
What do you want to see?
So these are the features I want to see on the iPad Air 2020. What about you? Do you have any particular desires for Apple's upcoming mid-range tablet? Let us know in the comments.
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Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.
I want to see a new iPad Mini with all the same features as the Air 4, but in a 8.7” screen size. Why? Because I already have 3 Pros. I don’t need an Air. But I do use my current Mini 5 very often. And please, the camera on the Mini (and Air) desperately needs an update.
New Mini, yes please. That is predicated on these potential upgrades to the Air, smaller bezels, necessitating some other ID function (power-touch, face ID). The other things, USB-C, #2 Pencil, etc, aren't that important to me, but would seem to make sense, so they would be welcome.