iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 release date hinges on A8 processor in 2014

Apple has high hopes of making the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 release date one of the most successful on the tech industry calendar in 2014, but will its own in-house microprocessing technology cooperate? Apple has long been working on its next generation A8 processor, which if ready in time will power everything from the next generation of iPad Air and mini to the next iteration of the iPhone and iPod touch.

The new A8 chip will further advance Apple’s goals of delivering a low power microprocessor architecture with ever increasing speeds, which allows for less power consumption, which means a smaller sized battery can deliver the same amount of power, which in turn means the entire device can be thinner and lighter while still leaving room for additional new hardware technologies under the hood. The current A7 processor driving the first generation iPad Air and the second generation iPad mini (retina display) has taken those goals to new heights. But now Apple is looking to deliver the A8 in 2014, and will be up against the clock to try to make it happen in time for the release date of the new iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2.

That puts Apple in the position of racing against itself. If the A8 processor is going to be ready prior to the start of the holiday shopping season, Apple will be willing to hold off on the launch and initial production of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 accordingly. That would mean the release date for the new iPads could come rather late in 2014, such as October or early November. But if things reach a point where it’s clear the A8 won’t become ready in time, and Apple knows this far enough in advance, it’ll alter its plans to use the same A7 processor (or perhaps a moderately faster A7X variant) in the new iPads, and those new models could end up arriving as soon as September. But there’s more to the new iPads than merely their processor chip.

The first generation iPad Air was a fundamental breakthrough in terms of svelteness and power efficiency, easily the more significant advancement in technology between iPad generations in its four-plus years on the market. Apple now faces the task of one-upping itself by delivering a second generation iPad Air which takes another leap forward. The A8 processor can help make the iPad Air 2 faster, thinner and lighter. But what will Apple give the new iPad to make it shine?

The inclusion of the iOS 8 system software will give the iPad Air 2 new features including the health and wellness monitoring of HealthKit and the home automation technology of HomeKit, but those features will be added across the iLineup. Apple will need to give the new iPad Air its own headlining feature, just as last year it gave the new iPad mini a retina display to set it apart from the original model. Regardless of what Apple chooses as its new gee-whiz features, the one certainty is that both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 will see their release date before 2014 is over.