When does the iPad Air 3 come out? I'm already looking forward to the next iPad's launch date in 2016. And what new features, specs and design changes can we expect in the new iPad Air when it's released?

Update (05/02/2016): The last update focuses on the latest iPad Air 3 release date rumours, namely those claiming that we'll be seeing the iPad Air 3 announced at a March 15 2016 event. 

We started looking forward to the iPad Air 3 launch almost as soon as the iPad Air 2 came out in 2014 - and when iOS 9 was announced, the countdown to the iPad Air 3 launch date began in earnest. No new iPad Air was launched in autumn 2015, so when will the iPad Air 3 come out? Here are all the latest rumours about the new iPad Air 3, from design and new features to dimensions, specs, UK launch date and UK price.

Welcome to our iPad Air 3 rumours article, discussing the latest hints about the iPad Air 3 release date, specs and UK price. We present all the available information, rumours and clues about the new iPad Air for 2016, including the probable iPad Air 3 release date, new features in the iPad Air 3, and images of the iPad Air 3 - both concept illustrations and leaked photos as they emerge. We will also analyse the iPad Air 3 rumours for their credibility based on our long experience of Apple product launches.

Read next: Apple rumours and predictions for 2016 | iPad mini 5 rumours

Bookmark this page and check back regularly for the latest information: as rumours circulate and news leaks out, we will update this article with everything you need to know about the new iPad Air 3: design, features, size and specifications, the differences between the next-gen iPad Air 3 and the current iPad Air 2, the iPad Air 3's UK launch date and UK price, and much, much more.

If you're more interested in the current crop of iPads, read our iPad Pro reviewiPad Air 2 review and iPad Air 1 review, and our iPad mini 4 review and iPad mini 2 review. And remember to check our iPad buyers' guide for 2016.

Sections in this article:

iPad Air 2 release date, specs and UK price

Read next: iPad buying guide 2016 Best cheap iPad deals UK | iPad reviewsHow to set up a new iPad How to speed up a slow iPad

iPad Air 3 release date rumours: When will the new iPad Air 3 come out?

We originally predicted an October 2015 launch for the iPad Air 3, based on past behaviour from Apple. The iPad Air 2 was unveiled to journalists on 16 October 2014; The iPad Air 1 was announced on 22 October 2013, and released at the start of November. This is Apple's standard iPad release schedule, and the announcement of iOS 9 at WWDC 2015 on 8 June, same as every year, suggested that things were proceeding as usual.

But 2015 was a surprising year for iPad announcements. At Apple's September press briefing, where we would traditionally expect to hear about iPhones, iPhones and more iPhones, the company risked overshadowing the first sighting of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus by unveiling the iPad Pro (and then slipping out the iPad mini 4, which is actually a far more valuable and appealing update than last year's iPad mini 3). But there was no sign of the next mid-size iPad Air.

It had been rumoured before the announcement that the iPad Pro was such an important product for Apple that it had shifted resources away from the iPad Air 3 in order to get it finished - with the result that the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4 would launch together in autumn, and the iPad Air 3 would have to wait until 2016. 9to5Mac noted that the report seemed a little "sketchy", but it turned out to be spot on.

Many pundits speculated that the iPad Air 3 had been pushed back to October, the usual month for iPad launches, but Apple kept quiet on the subject. And now we're left to wonder if we'll see any update to the iPad Air lineup between now and autumn 2016. Indeed, some leftfield rumours suggest that Apple may have brought this line to an end, and will in future focus on the mini and Pro ranges. That strikes us as crazy talk, mind you.

iPad Air 3 coming in the first half of 2016 'but won't significantly increase Apple revenue'

Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the iPad Air 3 will be unveiled in the first half of 2016, so the March launch event detailed below could be on - or we might still have to wait until summer.

In a further investor report on 24 January 2016, Kuo maintained the prediction of an early-2016 launch, but sounded a note of caution, suggesting that the Air 3 launch wouldn't have much of an effect on Apple's bottom line. (Kuo was similarly cautious about sales of the iPhone 6c or iPhone 6se, but suggested that new MacBooks are "a stronger candidate for becoming a theme given solid growth in the business segment, as well as a potential upgrade to hit the market in 1H16".)

iPad Air 3 rumoured to launch in March 2016 - but who started the rumour?

Of late, a number of Apple pundits and tech rumour sites have become fixated on March 2016 as the likely launch date of the iPad Air 3. (And we certainly wouldn't like to rule out a spring launch - it would seem odd for Apple to go two full years between updates of its classic iPad range.) The only thing is that the source everyone is pointing to doesn't actually predict a March launch.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I can't read Chinese, so I'm relying here on good old (not particularly good) Google Translate. But according to that service, the page on MyDrivers that multiple tech websites have linked to says:

"Latest news, Apple has not forgotten iPad Air 3, but postponed, but release indeterminate time, it will be available as early as October, or at the end of this year or early next year."

In other words (and apologies for the stilted translation-ese), the site doesn't claim to know when the iPad Air 3 will launch, observing instead that this is "indeterminate" and then offering three relatively widely spaced possibilities (one of which has already been proved wrong). And it doesn't specifically mention March at all, although the third prediction is vague enough that it could just about include March at a push.

There's a few possible explanations for this:

1) MyDrivers have edited their page, and it no longer says what is did when everyone linked to it - it is a couple of months old, after all (although it seems odd that they'd leave the October prediction intact while editing out a prediction that could yet be spot-on). They could also have set up a redirect to a different article;

2) That there is a MyDrivers page that predicts a March launch, but the first Western journalist to notice it accidentally linked to an older article on the same site and everyone else copied the link in good faith;

3) That Google Translate is letting me down somehow and the article says exactly what the other sites claim it does, and unlike me their reporters can read Chinese;

4) That I am being an idiot in some other unspecified way;

5) Or that nobody bothered to check the source they were linking to and a rumour has therefore been started based on no evidence at all.

Ultimately all that I can state definitively is this: quite a lot of tech websites - not all of them, by any means, but enough to call it a trend - are currently reporting a rumour that the iPad Air 3 will launch in March 2016; and I for one cannot work out where this rumour came from. If anyone reading this does have a source that points to a March announcement, please let me know and I will eat my words. Or at least update this article.

iPad Air 3 to launch alongside 4in iPhone in March

So it seems that I may have to eat my words, as 9to5Mac recently claimed, citing sources with knowledge of the subject, that Apple is set to launch the highly-anticipated iPad Air 3 alongside the 4in iPhone (iPhone 6c or 5se depending on which rumours you believe) and a handful of new Apple Watch straps at an event onTuesday March15 2016. It's said that Apple won't be using the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco as it did when it launched the iPhone 6s, and the company is instead opting for a smaller affair, possibly being held at Apple's Town Hall in Cupertino. 

While there is no official word from Apple, we think this is more than likely, especially considering earlier rumours pointing towards a March 2016 release date (for both the iPad Air 3 and iPhone 6c).

iPad Air 3 UK onsale date rumours

When will the iPad Air 3 go on sale in the UK? There's usually a delay of around 10 days between the announcement and the devices going on sale. If the Air 3 launches in mid-March 2016, for example, then expect it to hit UK shops in late March.

There are occasionally shortages when a major Apple product launches, so those who are desperate to get their hands on the Air 3 would be wise to place a pre-order if possible. (Pre-ordering using Apple's own Apple Store app rather than on the website often appears to give you a head start that could make all the difference.)

Read next: Apple iCar rumours

Macworld poll: How often do you update your iPad?

The iPad Air 3 may arrive in spring 2016, but by no means every iPad owner will make the upgrade. How often do you buy a new iPad?

iPad Air 3 release date rumours: Design

Let's look next at the iPad Air 3's physical design. What will the iPad Air 3 look like (and feel like)?

iPad Air 3 design rumours: Smart Connector

We've seen a leaked schematic of the iPad Air 3 (see the images and videos section), and this appears to confirm that the iPad Air 3, like the iPad Pro, will have a Smart Connector on the lefthand edge for attaching a Smart Keyboard Cover.

Most iPad accessories are dependent on their own battery power - even the Apple Pencil has to be recharged, albeit very quickly, when it runs out of charge - but the Smart Connector allows a connected keyboard cover to draw power from the iPad's battery. In the iPad Pro's case, that means a very long usage time, since it has a monster battery; hopefully the iPad Air 3 will be able to offer something impressive in that department too.

iPad Air 3 design rumours: Thinner than the iPad Air 2

Physically, it's rumoured that the next iPad Air will be… wait for it… thinner than its predecessor.

"Additional [rumours] claim the iPad Air 3 will be thinner than the iPad Air 2," says Cult of Mac, "thanks to a smaller battery allowing it to shrink down to just 5mm thick (compared to the 6.1mm thickness of the iPad Air 2), as well as possibly including waterproofing or dust-resistant features."

It's generally a sound prediction to make, given that the iPad Air 1 was thinner than the iPad 4 and the iPad Air 2 was thinner than the iPad Air 1. The iPad Air 2 is already really thin, mind you, and we do sometimes wonder how much thinner tablets need to get before the compromises start to outweigh the benefits. The Air 2 is sturdy and has stood up to more than a year's heavy and frequent use, but we still recall the nervousness with which we handled it in the early days: it's hard to see an even more slender iPad Air 3 inspiring a great deal of confidence in its ability to withstand bending, chucking on a sofa, holding by one edge etc.

If batteries are getting smaller, couldn't they just keep it the same size and incorporate a higher-capacity battery unit, and give us a few more hours away from the charger?

Indeed, one rumour suggests that the Air 3's thinner chassis will actually mean it has a lower-capacity battery unit than the Air, which seems crazy to us. (Even though improvements in battery technology could mean that this lower-capacity unit actually lasts for a comparable length of time in practice, it seems barmy to consciously choose not to improve battery life when simply keeping the same capacity unit would achieve this.)

Original iPad and iPad Air 2: thickness comparison

iPad Air 3 design rumours: 7000-series aluminium body

We mentioned above our general nervousness that a thinner iPad Air 3 would also be less robust. But one other change to its physical design could help with that.

The Tampa Bay Review thinks the iPad Air 3 is likely to be made of 7000-series aluminium, like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. There's a certain logic to this: spending the extra cash on stronger materials to make the newest iPhones more bend-proof than their predecessors was a popular move after the (possibly overstated) traumas of Bendgate. But it does raise the question of why the iPad Pro (which is more valuable) and the iPad mini 4 (which is more portable, and therefore more likely to get crammed into a pocket) missed out on this upgrade.

If the Air 3 is thinner than either of those devices then we have an answer, but that only poses another: what is it about the Air lineup in particular that makes it more deserving of a super-thin body than those other Apple tablets?

iPad Air 3 design rumours: iPad Air 3 colour options

We'd expect the iPad Air 3 to be available in Apple's now-standard three iOS device colour options: silver, space grey and gold.

Every year someone suggests that the next iPad will come in the bright primary colours of the iPhone 5c and every year that person is disappointed. We don't expect the iPad Air 3 to be particularly colourful (except for that lovely gold finish).

iPad Air 3 rumours: Specs

It's time to look deeper into the iPad Air 3. What do the latest rumours say about the iPad Air 3's specs?

iPad Air 3 specs rumours: 4-speaker audio setup

If the leaked schematic of the iPad Air 3 (see the leaked images and videos section) is to be believed, the iPad Air 3 is going to double its number of speakers: like the iPad Pro, it will apparently feature four. More importantly, there will be more of a separation (two are at the top and two at the bottom), since part of previous iPads' comparative audio weakness can be traced to the fact that their two speakers sit right next to each other.

iPad Air 3 specs rumours: No 3D Touch

3D Touch, the sophisticated pressure-sensitive screen technology on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, will not make an appearance in the next 9.7-inch iPad. Or so says Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most famous Apple pundits out there.

iPad Air 3 release date rumours: No 3D Touch

In a research paper, Kuo predicts that the iPad Air 3 will launch in the first half of 2016 - which fits in with growing rumours of a March event that could also see the debut of the iPhone 6c and Apple Watch 2 - but won't get the marquee feature from the flagship iPhones. Kuo has correctly called a num

In the past, Apple has frequently introduced a new feature on the iPhone line and then dispersed it through other products - Retina displays, Siri, Touch ID - and plenty of analysts have made the obvious logical leap of assuming that 3D Touch will migrate to iPad at some point. Ming-Chi Kuo is the most authoritative voice to doubt this, but bear in mind that we're still in the realm of speculation - Kuo doesn't claim to have any inside source on these plans.

In fact, it could be argued that 3D Touch has its true origins on the Apple Watch, in the slightly different (or just differently branded) form of Force Touch. When it was first rumoured that this feature would move to iPhone, we were initially doubtful, for the simple reason that there's less need for multiple input methods on larger screens. The Apple Watch's display is cramped and doesn't have room for lots of icons, which makes a force-press a handy additional tool; the iPhone's screen is big enough for a user-friendly touch interface. Well, we were wrong about that, but if the iPhone didn't especially need 3D Touch, it could be argued that the iPad line-up needs it even less.

Via MacRumors

iPad Air 3 specs rumours: Screen resolution

Back in 2014, we wondered if the iPad Air 2 might get a screen upgrade from the Air 1, possibly gaining the Retina HD designation given to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But its display is largely the same, with the same resolution and size. (One screen modification Apple did talk about was an anti-reflective coating: a nice - if unglamorous - upgrade.) And this idea has been floated again this year.

Back in September 2015 the Chinese-language site MyDrivers (link to translation) made some grand claims about the iPad Air 3's specifications. Most eye-catching among these is the unexpected prediction that Apple will increase the resolution and therefore pixel density of the screen on its next mid-size iPad.

MyDrivers reckons the Air 3 will get a bump up to 401 pixels per inch (matching the iPhone 6s Plus), which translates on a 9.7-inch screen into a resolution of 3112x2334. (This compares to 2048x1536 at 264ppi on both the Air 1 and Air 2.) We confirmed this figure using the handy PixelDensityCalculator website.

Pixel density is a measure of how tightly pixels are packed on a screen, and increasing it so much would result in an appreciably sharper screen - even though Apple used to maintain that 264ppi was more than enough on devices of this form factor.

Moving up to 401ppi on the Air 3 would be a major step forward for Apple, which has previously applied its Retina marketing label to 9.7-inch tablets rated at 264ppi on the basis that they are held further away from the eye than smartphones or even mini tablets (the Retina-rated mini 2 and mini 4 both have a pixel density of 326ppi, matching the non-Plus iPhones).

There is a simple reason why we don't think this is likely to happen. As well as smashing past the pixel density of half of Apple's smartphones, including the just-released and Retina HD-rated iPhone 6s (326ppi), all of which would be held far closer to the face than the iPad Air 3, it would also show up the iPad Pro, which has a pixel density of 264ppi. And the iPad Pro is a very expensive top-end device that is clearly positioned as Apple's flagship tablet. It's hard to imagine anyone happily paying top dollar for a 264ppi Pro when there's a 401ppi Air 3 for, presumably, about £200 less.

Oh, and we dread to think what such a large bump in resolution would do to battery life. The iPhone 6 Plus got round that because its larger size allowed it to include a bigger battery, but we're hearing that the Air 3 will be thinner than the Air 2.

iPad Air 3 specs rumours: Camera

When it unveiled the iPad Air 2, Apple upped the megapixel count on the iPad Air 1's rear-facing (iSight) camera, from 5Mp to 8Mp. The iPad Air 2 also gained new camera features: burst mode, panoramas (up to 43Mp), slo-mo, timer mode and time-lapse.

The front-facing (FaceTime HD) camera retained the same (1.2Mp) rating, but Apple said it had improved the sensor and made the pixels bigger for better low-light performance.

iPad Air 2 camera specs

Cult of Mac, quoting Latinos Post, has predicted that the cameras on the iPad Air 3 will be specced at 8 megapixels (rear-facing iSight camera) and 2.1Mp (front-facing FaceTime camera). That's a slightly odd pair of specs, given that both iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro are rated at 8Mp/1.2Mp - does Apple really want to spec an Air higher than the mega-costly flagship iPad Pro? Then again, we've always felt that the FaceTime camera is more important for an iPad Air than the iSight camera, which most people use quite rarely, so making an upgrade there might be a good idea.

The typographical similarity between 1.2Mp and 2.1Mp makes it possible, of course, that somewhere along the line an error has crept in, and that the iPad Air 3 will actually have the same camera setup as the Pro.

iPad Air 3 specs rumours: Processor and speed

The iPad Air 2 got a new processor chip, the A8X - a souped-up version of the iPhone 6's A8. This has three billion transistors and offers (Apple says) 40 percent faster performance than the iPad Air 1's A7 chip in most apps and up to 2.5x graphics performance. 

Offering a historical perspective (if four years counts as history), Apple pointed out that the iPad Air 2 is capable of up to 12 times faster processing than the iPad 1 (the first-gen iPad, that is, not the iPad Air 1!), and a staggering 180 times faster graphics.

Read next: Best iPad games | Best free iPad games

It would be a big shock if Apple didn't upgrade the processor again when it launches the iPad Air 3, and it doesn't take a genius to predict that the iPad Air 3's chip will be an A9 or an A9X, and very speedy indeed. Given the near-overkill of the iPad Air 2's power, mind you, it might make sense for Apple to focus more on power efficiency than on sheer processing welly, and try to improve battery life.

This idea is backed up by the focus on streamlining and power-efficiency that we see in iOS 9, which is said to increase an iPhone 6's battery life by an hour on average. iPad battery life tends to be less of a hot issue than iPhone battery life, granted, but it's clear that Apple is taking power-efficiency seriously at last.

One other thought based on the iOS 9 announcements: new multitasking capabilities are likely to be extremely demanding on processor power (the iPad Air 2 is the only device capable of the most advanced multitasking feature in iOS 9, Split View) so a powerful chip wouldn't be wasted in the iPad Air 3.

iPad Air 3 release date rumours: iPad Air 3 UK price

How much will the iPad Air 3 cost in the UK?

Most likely it will cost pretty much what the iPad Air 2 cost when it launched. The iPad Air 2's UK price starts at £399 for the 16GB model in Wi-Fi only, moving up to £479 for 64GB Wi-Fi (as with the recent iPhones, Apple removed the popular 32GB storage option) and £559 for 128GB Wi-Fi. The 3G/cellular models cost £100 more at each configuration: £499 for the 16GB model, moving up to £579 for 64GB and £659 for 128GB.

With the iPad Air 3 filling in these price points, the iPad Air 2 will drop in price, most likely by around £80. The iPad Air 1 could get yet another price cut and remain on sale - much as Apple currently sells three versions of the iPad mini - but it's more likely to be discontinued. Apple usually tries to keep its range simple, and the main reason we can see for it keeping the iPad mini 1 around is that the iPad mini 2 and 3 are so similar.

iPad Air 3 rumours: Leaked images and videos

Update, 2 February 2016: This is a new section, because we've finally got some leaked images to talk about. Here's our first glimpse (sort of) of the iPad Air 3:

iPad Air 3 rumours: Leaked iPad Air 3 schematic

The image comes courtesy of Engadget, which received the leak from what it calls "our reliable source" without offering further description. And clearly it's a schematic or drawing of the iPad Air 3's design and general layout rather than a photo, so it's entirely possible that there will be changes to the design between now and the final release. (It's also possible that, despite Engadget's assurances, this isn't genuine.)

There are two main revelations to be drawn from the image, and both relate to features that are apparently migrating from the iPad Pro. The iPad Air 3 seems to have gained the Smart Connector on its lefthand edge (or righthand edge when viewed from the back, as above), which will enable users to connect a Smart Keyboard Cover - one in a smaller size than the current model, of course. And it's also been given the Pro's improved audio setup: four speakers.

More photos and videos, as and when we hear about them.

iPad Air 3 features wish list

So much for the rumours concerning the iPad Air 3's design changes, specs and new features. But what new features would we add to the device if we were in Jony Ive's shoes? 

Here's our iPad Air 3 feature wish list. Some are brand-new wishes: perhaps ideas triggered by issues with Apple's latest line of iPads. Others are features we've been asking for since before the iPad Air 2 but weren't included in that device.

Let us know what features you want to see in the iPad Air 3 in the comments, or let us know on Twitter

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Larger screen

You can never be too rich, or too thin, or have too much screen space.

In fact, there would be plenty of negatives attached to increasing the iPad Air 2's screen size from its current 9.7in diagonal: mainly increasing the bulk of the device (and having to incorporate a bigger and heavier battery to power the screen for as long), thereby reducing its fantastic portability. But a bigger screen would make the iPad Air more adaptable as a work device, and more immersive for entertainment, so who cares about practicalities?

In fact, since we wrote this wishlist, Apple has unveiled an iPad with a bigger screen; it just isn't called the iPad Air 3. Go and read our iPad Pro review for more on that one. We think the iPad Air line will continue to be based around a 9.7in screen. 

Chances of happening (on the Air line at any rate): low

iPad Air 3 rumours and features wish list: iPad range

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Faster processor

This too is an obvious one, and something that has happened in essentially every iOS device update: a new, faster processor chip. But is it actually something to be wishing for?

The iPad Air 2 is fast enough to run every current app with ease, and on most apps you won't notice any different in performance between it and the iPad Air 1 (iPad Air 1 vs iPad Air 2 comparison). The iPad Air is effectively faster than it needs to be, and apps are trying their best to catch up.

The iPad Air 3 (or iPad 7) doesn't need to be any faster. It'll probably get a new chip, and there's a good chance it'll be a bit faster, but maybe Apple will go for greater power-efficiency instead? 

Yeah, who are we kidding? You've got to be able to boast about processing speeds at the launch announcement.

Chances of happening: nailed on

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Improved camera (and the True Tone LED flash from the iPhone 5s)

The last of our recurring requests that crop up every time. Of course an improved camera would be nice, but we wouldn't cite it as an essential, since the iPad is used less for its camera than Apple's smartphones (less, although tablet camera use is growing all the time), and it's got pretty good anyway. A flash - such as the True Tone LED model in the iPhone 5s - wouldn't hurt, but only if it doesn't affect the price tag or portability too much. A smartphone needs a great camera; a tablet doesn't.

Chances of happening: mid to low

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Face recognition

Ah, something more interesting! What if the iPad Air 3 uses facial recognition to unlock the device?

Face-recognition is already available in the Camera app, but that's facial recognition only in the sense of recognising that something is a face, rather than recognising which one it is - which makes this one a long shot. It does also seem a bit unnecessary, given that Apple has the Touch ID technology, and so does the iPad Air 2. If it wants to do convenient, biometric authentication it can use that. 

Chances of happening: low

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Full Apple Pay

This one is slightly complicated.

The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 gained Touch ID fingerprint scanners - one of the components required to use the new Apple Pay online/instore payment service, which allows you to pay for things in shops by scanning your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and touching the fingerprint scanner. And indeed both models can use Apple Pay in the US. (Apple Pay hasn't launched in the UK at time of writing, but it will make its UK launch in July.)

But they get only a limited, partial version of Apple Pay: one that doesn't work in shops. Instead they use the online and app-based versions of Apple Pay, which use Touch ID but don't require the NFC wireless antenna component used when scanning the iPhone 6 on an instore receiver.

A further complication is the discovery of NFC antennae in both devices when they were disassembled; perhaps these could be activated in future and allow for full Apple Pay. Or perhaps they are intended for some other purpose.

Either way, we'd like to at least have the option of instore Apple Pay with the next generation of iPads. Admittedly the average customer is a lot less likely to whip out a full-size iPad at the till, but we thought something similar about iPad photography.

Chances of happening: medium

iPad Air 3 release date rumours and features wish list: Apple Pay

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Live multitasking

"The fact that you cannot use multiple applications at the same time is a little annoying," said Product Reviews when discussing potential new features for the iPad Air 2, "and it would definitely be a great feature if Apple could add it in. For example you could update your Twitter feed in a sidebar whilst watching a video or check your emails whilst reading an article."

We didn't get it in the iPad Air 2, and it still makes sense for the iPad Air 3, although you'd probably need a bigger screen to be able to use this practically. And maybe it's more of an iOS 9 thing.

Even as a software update it seems very radical indeed for something that (I think) is a niche requirement. How many people check their emails while continuing to read an article or watch a video?

Chances of happening: low

UPDATE: Scratch that. Chances of happening: definite. Multitasking capabilities have been announced for iOS 9:

iOS 9 new features: Multitasking

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Improved stylus support

"I'd like to see more attention paid to the display sensor technology that allows for the next generation of fine tip electronic styluses to be used more effectively and accurately," wrote MacObserver last year. They didn't get their own way with the iPad Air 2, so presumably are still hoping.

This sounds like a nice option, so it's most likely a question of priorities and compromises. And aside from Apple's consistent commitment to touch input in iOS, doesn't this sound like something Samsung would champion? 

Chances of happening: low

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Subwoofer and other audio/speaker improvements

The iPad's audio output could be improved; this is certainly true. (The iPad Air 2 has stereo speaker units, but they are so close together that their output is effectively mono.) Yet there are limits on the richness of the audio a slim and portable unit can produce; I suspect that the average iPad owner would rather buy a separate wireless speaker than add any noticeable weight to the iPad Air's chassis.

A touch more bass output would substantially improve the iPad as a games unit, mind you, and it would be great for film fans. 

Chances of happening: mid to low

iPad Air 3 release date rumours and new features wish list

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Increase the storage baseline

"iPads tend to accumulate a lot of stuff," pointed out MacObserver. "Apps, movies and music that make a 16GB iPad an anachronism. Here's hoping..."

In fact, Apple phased out the popular 32GB model instead, leaving the iPad Air 2 (and the iPad mini 3 and iPhone 6 handsets) with an oddly lopsided line-up of 16GB, 64GB and 128GB.

Will Apple phase out the 16GB iPad? It's going to happen at some point - remember the 8GB iPad? - but maybe not quite yet. Plenty of users store work documents and photos in the cloud, rarely game and use a small number of lightweight apps. 

Chances of happening: low (for now)

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Memory card slot

We'll say right away: this would be nice in some respects but is highly unlikely.

Apple's philosophy embraces the closed box: the complete product experience bought ready-to-use and held apart from user tinkering and upgrades. Without mentioning that this would encourage buyers to go for the lower-capacity iPads and fill the shortfall with removable memory. And it would ruin the iPad's clean lines. 

Chances of happening: no way

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Bluetooth mouse support

It's been argued that touch is less accurate than mouse (or similar) input, and that Apple's more work-oriented users would enjoy being able to use wireless mice with their iPad Air 3. If we were talking about the Mac OS X-running iPad Pro that some have discussed, this would be a no-brainer, but this would call for a major rethink of how iOS works, and we don't think that's likely. 

Chances of appearing: low

iPad Air 3 feature wish list: Wireless charging

At the moment wireless charging is big let-down, offering only minor convenience rather than the quantum leap it appears to promise. The Air Voltage Qi Chargers are an example of a (comparatively) recent take on the concept: you buy a case for your device, and a separate charging mat. Simply laying the cased iPhone on the mat starts up the charging process - but it has to touch the mat, and the mat itself has to be plugged in. 

If you could increase the range of the charge transmission so that, for example, you just need to be sitting with a couple of feet of the charger for the device in your pocket to start charging - then we'd be talking. Still, if Apple incorporated the technology in the chassis of the iPad so that you don't have to bother with a particular case then it would a bit more appealing. 

Chances of appearing: low

Read page 2 for the rumours and predictions we collected in advance of the iPad Air 2's press event. See for yourself how much we (and the rest of the industry) got right, and how much we got wrong!