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November 12th 2012 11:11 am

Will the processor cause compatibility issues in the future?

I have heard the iPad Mini has the same processor as the iPad 2. Since apple has already starting dropping support for the iPad 2 in many respects, will this cause the iPad mini to out date faster than it normally would?
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Given the rate of change in the mobile space, you are completely correct. The iPad mini is more of a 2011 device than it is a 2012 device; and one is more likely to encounter the negative effects of obsolescence than one would with the 4th gen iPad or iPhone 5. However, how this translates into "risk" depends on how you use the device.

I still use an ancient iPod touch, and it is surprising how many apps still run on it. However, apps that benefit from more processor and/or more RAM are the candidates to leave you behind. While I don't keep score, I would expect games, apps that are based on a desktop app, and photo/video apps to be the most likely to leave one behind. Depending on the type of apps you use, this may be a concern or a complete non-issue.

For example, in the two years that I owned the original iPad, I can't think of a single app (that didn't also require a camera) that wouldn't work for me. OK. There is the whole Siri thing, but that is not much of an example as I see Siri as being more critical on my phone than it is on my tablet. Also, I don't game much on my iPad; and I can see how that would skew one's view in favor of newer hardware. Thus, YMMV and all that . . .

To be a little more specific regarding your question:
  • There will almost certainly be at least one game that is released in the next two years that won't run on the original iPad mini.
  • If the past is any guide, Apple will release one or more features in a future version of iOS that won't be supported on this device. This could happen within the next calendar year, and is almost a certainty sometime in 2014.
  • There will probably be a photo/video app that is released in the next two years that won't run on the iPad mini. However, given the camera built into the mini, one should understand that the mini is already not the best choice if creating or editing photos/video is important to you. Photo/video editing becomes a much bigger issue if you don't own a notebook or desktop computer.
  • There are probably some scaled down desktop apps that will get an upgrade that won't run on the iPad mini. This probably won't happen in the 2013, but who knows what might be possible with the next version of iOS and the next generation of hardware.
In all fairness, most of those bullet points apply to any iOS device; and, more generally, to any mobile device. Until the rate of change slows in the mobile space, these devices are going to be obsolete in two to four years - depending on how use your device and on the apps that you rely on. The insurance that one gets with the iPad mini is that Apple is selling it. With Apple you will get your OS upgrades for at least two years, you will get them as soon as Apple releases them, and you need no computer skill whatsoever to get the upgrades. For an ordinary user, that is a tangible benefit that isn't always available with other similar devices; and it is a meaningful hedge against obsolescence.
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