There is very little surprise or mystery left when it comes to Apple’s iPad lineup. The tablets are a staple of Apple’s hardware range — an experience that’s similar to your iPhone, only bigger, and in many ways more versatile. When it first launched, the iPad was forced into a silo of being viewed as an entertainment device. You install Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, and a couple of games, and you have the ideal consumption device in your hands.
But for the past few years, Apple has tried to change the narrative around the iPad. The iPad Pro line, the upgraded iPad Air, and now the base iPad have all gained features and capabilities that make the iPad more laptop-like. Physical keyboard support, built into the iPad’s housing, and Apple Pencil support have all made the iPad a device you can use for work and play.
With the recent release of iPadOS, Apple is now tackling the software challenges the iPad has faced as consumers and business users alike try to do more with the tablet. Not only does iPadOS bring an improved browsing and multitasking experience, but Apple also added a handful of new features for BYOD enterprise users that makes the $329 iPad very attractive.
The new iPad looks just like the old iPad, but with a slightly bigger screen. The black rectangular frame wraps around a 10.2-inch display size, up from 9.7-inches, with a Touch ID-equipped home button at the bottom. A Lightning port is also on the bottom for charging and syncing the iPad, with a sleep/wake button and a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the housing. On the right side of the frame are the volume up and down keys.
On the left edge of the iPad are three round dots for Apple’s Smart Connector, used to connect and power Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover. The keyboard isn’t included with the iPad. It’s priced at $159, and the Apple Pencil will set you back $99.
The seventh-generation iPad starts at $329 for 32GB of storage, or $429 for a 128GB model. Both of those prices are for the Wi-Fi-only model, with cellular connectivity costing $459 and $559, respectively. You can get it in gray, silver, or gold.
There’s not a lot to say about the overall design of the iPad, because it’s very much the same design Apple has used for years now, save for the current-generation iPad Pro lineup. There’s nothing wrong with this design, although I would have loved to see Apple start to expand USB-C beyond the Pro offerings.
Software and performance
For the past year, I’ve used the latest generation iPad Pro as my main laptop. I’ve grown to love Face ID, the speed of Apple’s A12X Bionic processor, and its 12.9-inch display. Switching to this iPad was a bit of a shock at first, but after a few days, I acclimated to using Touch ID and the smaller 10.2-inch display powered by an older A10 Fusion processor. Battery life has been good enough to get through a full day of use, ranging from writing, triaging my inbox, watching YouTube videos, and scrolling mindlessly on Twitter.
As I stated nearly a year ago, despite hardware improvements, the entire iPad line has been held back by software. But that’s changing, with Apple giving the iPad its own operating system — iPadOS — paving the way for meaningful software upgrades to the iPad line, and moving the tablet out of the iPhone’s shadow.
This iPad is the first to ship with iPadOS installed out of the box. At its core, iPadOS is still iOS, with a lot of feature parity between the two platforms. You still get things like dark mode, improvements to Mail, the new Reminders app — you get the point.
Where iPadOS starts to differentiate itself from iOS is with Safari’s desktop-class browsing experience, making it possible to compose, edit, and review Google Docs directly in the browser (a much better experience than Google’s corresponding apps).
The multitasking approach in iPadOS has also expanded, with the ability to open multiple windows of the same app, just like you would on a PC or Mac. For example, you can have multiple instances of Apple Notes open in Split View, each one sharing the screen with Mail, Safari, or Reminders.
The new windows feature streamlines the way I work on the iPad. I no longer have to constantly move around and manage which apps are open and where.
You can now connect external storage to the iPad, ranging files and folders stored on an SSD or a thumb drive using the Files app.
In short, iPadOS is exactly what the iPad has needed in recent years. It’s a giant step in the right direction for the platform, and I’m hopeful that Apple aggressively adds more features to the entire iPad line in future updates. And the sooner, the better.
I touched on the enterprise additions in iOS in my iPhone 11 review, but let’s expand a bit.
As of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, there are several new features baked into the operating systems that make BYOD with Apple devices easier. Apple Business Manager now has Managed Apple IDs and a new service called User Enrollment.
Managed Apple IDs integrate with Microsoft’s Azure Active directory, removing the need for IT departments to have to manage multiple IDs for a user across different platforms.
BYOD users can bring their iPad or iPhone to a company and add a managed Apple ID to their device, which will then allow for device management through User Enrollment. The setup process for the user requires installing an enrollment profile and signing in with the Managed Apple ID. The company can then install managed apps, configure work accounts, set password policies, and use app-based VPN connections.
When User Enrollment is used on a device, your personal and work data is kept separate at all times. Your company can’t see what apps have been installed using your Apple ID, nor can it see any of the information that’s stored outside of the managed account’s storage partition. That means information like your personal notes in the Notes app, which are displayed next to your corporate Notes account, can’t be read by your company.
In the event of a lost device, the company can only wipe data that is connected to the Managed Apple ID, leaving all of your personal information in place.
Apple also added a single sign-on extension that, when integrated into third-party apps, will automatically sign you into all corporate apps after you’ve signed in to one. You could, in theory, sign in to OneDrive, Outlook, and Teams by entering your user ID and password only once. Hopefully, developers will begin to adopt the new extension soon.
The new iPad is…
A lot of things. It’s an entertainment device at home. It’s a workhorse for churning out emails or editing a Google Slides presentation in Safari. It’s a portable gaming device. It’s a tablet. And, now, it’s a 2-in-1.
I’ve been spoiled by using an iPad Pro for nearly a year. I said a year ago it was the best tablet ever made, and I still feel the same way today. But with the slow trickle of Pro-like features having reached almost every iPad in Apple’s lineup, you can’t make a wrong choice when it comes to which iPad to get.
On second thought, you can. Don’t get the 32GB model. You’ll eventually run out of space and regret not spending the extra $100 for 128GB.
By expanding the capabilities of the iPad through hardware and software improvements, including enterprise additions, the standard iPad sitting on my desk right now, is just as capable as the iPad Pro and it’s a fraction of the price.
Indeed, it’s far more nuanced than that, but for the average user who wants a streamlined computing experience, at home or work, the new iPad is an affordable option that will surely get the job done.
Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions – TechCrunch
Twitter reveals its move into paid subscriptions, Australia passes its media bargaining law and Coinbase files its S-1. This is your Daily Crunch for February 25, 2021.
The big story: Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions
Twitter announced its first paid product at an investor event today, showing off screenshots of a feature that will allow users to subscribe to their favorite creators in exchange for things like exclusive content, subscriber-only newsletters and a supporter badge.
The company also announced a feature called Communities, which could compete with Facebook Groups and enable Super Follow networks to interact, plus a Safety Mode for auto-blocking and muting abusive accounts. On top of all that, Twitter said it plans to double revenue by 2023.
Not announced: launch dates for any of these features.
The tech giants
After Facebook’s news flex, Australia passes bargaining code for platforms and publishers — This requires platform giants like Facebook and Google to negotiate to remunerate local news publishers for their content.
New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads — The sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Sergey Brin’s airship aims to use world’s biggest mobile hydrogen fuel cell — The Google co-founder’s secretive airship company LTA Research and Exploration is planning to power a huge disaster relief airship with an equally record-breaking hydrogen fuel cell.
Coinbase files to go public in a key listing for the cryptocurrency category — Coinbase’s financials show a company that grew rapidly from 2019 to 2020 while also crossing the threshold into unadjusted profitability.
Boosted by the pandemic, meeting transcription service Otter.ai raises $50M — With convenient timing, Otter.ai added Zoom integration back in April 2020.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
DigitalOcean’s IPO filing shows a two-class cloud market — The company intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DOCN.”
Pilot CEO Waseem Daher tears down his company’s $60M Series C pitch deck — For founders aiming to entice investors, the pitch deck remains the best way to communicate their startup’s progress and potential.
Five takeaways from Coinbase’s S-1 — We dig into Coinbase’s user numbers, its asset mix, its growing subscription incomes, its competitive landscape and who owns what in the company.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Paramount+ will cost $4.99 per month with ads — The new streaming service launches on March 4.
Register for TC Sessions: Justice for a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion in the startup world — This is just one week away!
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Twitter plans to double revenue by 2023, reach 315M daily users – TechCrunch
Just ahead of its 2021 virtual investor day on Thursday, Twitter this morning announced its three long-term goals focused on user base and revenue growth, and a faster pace of shipping new features across its platform. The company said it aims to “at least” double its total annual revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion or more in 2023. It also expects to reach at least 315 million mDAUs — that’s Twitter’s self-invented metric for “monetizable” daily active users — by the fourth quarter of 2023.
That would represent a roughly 20% compound annual growth rate from Twitter’s base of 152 million mDAUs reported in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company noted in a new SEC filing.
Active user growth has been difficult for Twitter — the growth tends to be slow or even flat, at times. Per Twitter’s most recent earnings, mDAUs in the fourth quarter 2020 had reached 192 million instead of the 193.5 million expected, for instance. Investors are used to Twitter under-delivering on this metric — or even inventing its own user base metric to hide that its monthly user growth sometimes declines.
In any event, Twitter’s longer-term plans indicate it believes it will finally be able to deliver on user growth — perhaps aided by its investment in new features.
In its filing, Twitter said it would “double development velocity by the end of 2023,” which means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that “directly drive either mDAU or revenue,” it said.
On this front, Twitter has been fairly active in recent months. Late last year, it launched its “stories” feature called Fleets to its global audience. It’s also now testing new features including a Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, and a community-led misinformation debunking effort known as Birdwatch. And it acquired newsletter platform Revue, which is already now integrated on the Twitter website. The company has made smaller acquisitions, as well, to build out product teams, including with social app Squad, stories template maker Chroma Labs, and podcasting app Breaker.
New features may help to attract increased Twitter usage, but revenue growth will also come from diversification beyond advertising. Twitter has spoken several times about its plans to build out a subscription product, which the company said would begin in 2021 but wouldn’t impact Twitter revenue in the near-term. The company has also said it may investigate other areas of monetization, like tipping and various paid consumer-facing features.
Today, Twitter said publicly it plans to reach the $7.5 billion or more target by “growing our audience and gaining advertising market share in both brand and direct response.” But the company did not speak to its plans for subscriptions.
Investors are already responding favorably to Twitter’s announcements this morning. Twitter stock is up by nearly 7% as of the time of writing.
New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads – TechCrunch
Online advertising can be a “pretty dry topic,” as Facebook’s head of brand marketing Andrew Stirk acknowledged, but with a new campaign of its own, the social networking giant is looking to “bring to life how personalized ads level the playing field” for small businesses.
The Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found campaign will include TV, radio and digital advertising. Individual businesses will also be able to promote it using a new Instagram sticker and the #DeserveToBeFound hashtag on Facebook.
The campaign will highlight specific small businesses on Facebook, including bag and luggage company House of Takura, whose founder Annette Njau spoke about the benefits of digital advertising at a press event yesterday.
“What those platforms allow us to do is, they allow us to tell stories,” Njau said. “I can’t tell this story on TV, I can’t tell this story in a huge magazine because it costs money and I don’t know who will see it.”
These sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, where apps will have to ask for permission before sharing user data for third-party ad targeting. In response, Facebook claimed that it was “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” though the social network also pointed to these changes as one of the “more significant advertising headwinds” that it expects to face this year. (Apple’s Tim Cook, in contrast, has said that these changes provide consumers with the control that they’ve been asking for.)
When asked how this fits into the broader dispute with Apple, Stirk said that while Facebook has been publicly opposed to Apple’s changes, this campaign is part the company’s longer-term support for small business.
“There is a degree of urgency in the fact that … small businesses are hurting right now,” he said.
Head of Facebook Business Products Helen Ma added that this is “very much an extension of the work that we did on the product side at the very start of the COVID period,” which included the launch of the Businesses Nearby section and a #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag.
In addition to launching the campaign today, Facebook is announcing several product changes, including a simplified Ads Manager dashboard, new options for restaurants to provide more information about their dining experiences and more information about personalized ads in Facebook’s Business Resource hub and Instagram’s Professional Dashboard.
The company also said it will continue to waive fees on transactions through Checkouts on Shops through June 2021, and will do the same for fees collected on paid online events until August 2021 at the earliest.
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