Super Blood Hockey coming to Switch, PS4, Xbox One – Polygon

Super Blood Hockey coming to Switch, PS4, Xbox One – Polygon

The next sports game coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One puts players in the role of a hockey coach who may “recruit players from prison, utilize performance-enhancing drugs, pull the plug on injured teammates, and use other underhanded tactics to succeed.”

Suffice to say, Super Blood Hockey is not a licensed video game.

It’s the console port of a game that launched on Linux, Mac, and Windows PC via Steam in 2017 and attracted user praise. The visuals and playing style resemble 8-bit and 16-bit titles like Ice Hockey or Blades of Steel on the NES, except the action is a lot more over-the-top and violent.

Super Blood Hockey is developed and published by Loren Lemcke; the console ports will be handled by Kittehface Software and Digerati Distribution.

The console version comes to Switch in April, and Xbox One and PS4 sometime in the second quarter of 2019. The PC version just got a franchise mode that the console editions will have, too.

Read More

Thoughts on Apple’s News+, Card, Arcade, and TV+ event — something for everyone – 9to5Mac

Thoughts on Apple’s News+, Card, Arcade, and TV+ event — something for everyone – 9to5Mac

On Monday, I attended Apple’s very different kind of special event at Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park. There was no new hardware to unveil — new iPads, iMacs, and AirPods came the week before — so four new services took the show: Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+

Services Evolution

Each new service could be viewed as an evolution of an existing effort already underway at Apple.

Apple News+ builds on the foundation of the Apple News app, integrating magazines from Apple’s Texture acquisition alongside select newspapers and online publications. Apple Card is a much more involved take on the classic Apple Rewards card from Barclays, but a card that Apple controls. Apple Arcade builds on the work of the App Store and the success of the games category. And Apple TV+ feels like the modernization of the iTunes Movies and TV Shows business, similar to how Apple Music has taken front seat to iTunes Music store.

While the services announced are creative and potentially experimental, Apple has experience in each category already — and they’ve hired experts or collaborated with partners in areas less familiar. Nothing announced was as foreign as, say, Apple opening a hotel chain (although I’m sure it would be a very nice hotel … no 30-pin clocks, just wireless charging mats.)

The venue for Apple’s March 25th event is also notable. Apple has used Steve Jobs Theater for special events just twice before: the iPhone 8 and iPhone X event in September 2017, and the iPhone XR and iPhone XS event in September 2018. Apple has ventured to New York, Chicago, and San Jose throughout the year for other special events, saving its own venue for shareholder meetings and on-site staff gatherings.

Steve Jobs Theater served the audience well, including Hollywood celebrities (even Oprah was impressed with the elevator), and the creative use of the theater walls played well in the room when dynamic backdrops were used for each TV show pitch.

No new hardware meant no hands-on demo area though. This was my first experience at Steve Jobs Theater so I missed the scramble to photograph and video shiny new products.

Products In Use

Tim Cook set the theme of the event with a slide dedicated to the definition of the word service, leaving no question that there would be no new hardware on stage. The framing was intended to present services as core to Apple’s business just like hardware and software. Think about features like FaceTime and iMessage, Find My Friends and Find My iPhone, not just Apple Music iCloud Photos.

If Apple’s fall events are about upgraded hardware products and WWDC is about upgraded platforms and developer tools, Apple’s March event this year was about new ways to use those platforms on our devices. And yes, Apple’s business is to make money along the way.

For some, the event was too far a departure from announcements dedicated to new Mac hardware. But in the age of incremental speed boosts year-over-year, creative new ways to use all of our devices is welcome and arguably more entertaining.

Apple News+

The first new service to be unveiled was Apple News+, a paid version of the existing Apple News app. $9.99 per month for access to 300 top magazines, the LA Times and Wall Street Journal, and select online publications including The Skimm and TechCrunch Extra.

I was in the audience at SXSW last year when Eddy Cue announced that Apple was buying the digital magazine subscription service Texture. There’s something neat about seeing that acquisition materialize into Apple News+ a year later.

The proposition is interesting. If you really do want to read tons of magazines or content from the newspapers and digital publications included in Apple News+, the $9.99/month price is a great value. More sources will surely be added over time which will only make the price an even better value, and the one month free trial is useful for test driving the new service.

I’m not currently a big magazine reader, but I do see appeal in carefully written and selected stories captured in monthly issues as a contrast to the infinite stream of the online publishing world. Even if the same stories are available in both places, the magazine model ideally surfaces the best content and not just the latest or clickiest.

You’ll still experience some ads just like if you paid for a copy of the print magazine, but in my experience these can be hyper targeted based on the magazine’s category and often useful. I’m also interested in how similar content is presented in magazines compared to the web. Fewer words and more graphics can sometimes fill a page in interesting ways.

I’m playing with the free trial now but I’m not sure I’ll be an Apple News+ customer to start. I like access to Runner’s World magazine, but a print subscription for a single magazine can be a lot cheaper than the full Apple News+ experience if you don’t want more out of it (like $12/year versus $120/year).

I’m also concerned about the magazine to digital format. Magazines can take advantage of the Apple News Format to have interactive magazine covers and smooth-flowing articles, but some of the content (especially ads) can be tough to consume on the iPhone. Apple News+ is definitely a better experience on the iPad for now.

And while about 50% of launch magazines are using the special Apple News Format, it’s possible that number will decrease and not increase depending on the return publishers receive for the effort.

Unlike Texture, there’s no presence on Android yet. My guess is that’s because Texture was just the digital magazine service (and who knows how many subscribers it actually had on Android where tablets aren’t prominent) while Apple News+ is included in the Apple News app. The app includes all of the free features of Apple News that we’ve had available for the last few years, and Apple may want to keep that free service as iOS/macOS-only for now.

Compare that to Android where the Beats Music app evolved into Apple Music. You don’t get much from Apple Music on Android for free (except Beats 1 streaming) so Apple isn’t giving away an appeal of the iPhone.

Finally, I’m curious about two things as it relates to magazine issues in Apple News+. Does Apple News+ alert you when new magazines that you read are updated with new issues? And does the back catalog of issues build up each month? The trial period hasn’t quite answered these questions for me yet.

Apple Card

Apple Card, Apple’s new credit card, seemed to garner the most amount of interest for readers during the event. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise considering its focus on financial health and a rewards program that doesn’t require a manual to explain.

Apple is using Goldman Sachs as its issuing bank and relying on MasterCard’s payment network, but Apple appears to be in control of much of what Apple Card will be when it launches this summer.

You apply through the Wallet app on the iPhone, an Apple Pay-compatible digital card is issued instantly, and a titanium Apple-designed card is available for transactions that don’t work with Apple Pay.

The rewards program is easy to understand too. 3% cash back on Apple products and services, 2% cash back on Apple Pay transactions, and 1% cash back on physical card transactions. Cash back is calculated daily and made available through the Apple Pay Cash virtual debit card in the Wallet app. You can spend that cash in apps or in stores using Apple Pay, or transfer the balance to your connected bank.

Compare that to other credit cards that have special categories for quarterly rewards that require being manually “activated” and I can see the appeal, although do you homework to know which credit card is best for your needs.

The Apple Card will be good for Goldman Sachs image and it’s in Apple’s interest to help prevent customers from accruing debt that they can’t handle. The digital and physical cards also look really nice.

There are still questions about Apple Card before it launches in the summer though. When will joint accounts be supported? Might we see a balance transfer opportunity for switchers? Is the Apple Rewards card through Barclays going away?

While it was a bit weird to be in a theater surrounded by people clapping for an Apple credit card, I don’t think we’ll hear much more about the Apple Card at events beyond its launch. I do expect the Apple Card to be heavily marketed through Apple’s online and retail stores however.

Apple Arcade

Apple’s upcoming subscription game service has the best name of all the new services introduced. Remember Game Center? Apple Arcade is such a more natural name, and the Tron arcade-style effect for the unveiling was perfect. Luckily Stadia was already taken.

Details are still a bit sparse: launching sometime this fall for a monthly price that hasn’t been announced yet. Whatever the monthly rate, it will include access to 100+ high-quality games across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac with no ads and no in-app purchases.

By the way, nice ceramic Apple Watch Edition, Ann Thai! Hopefully ceramic returns with a Series 4-like design in the future.

I’m hardly a gamer these days, but I am a parent of two young kids who already play iPad games today. Apple Arcade will include access for everyone in the family for one monthly fee through Family Sharing. That means my kids can get the real value out of the game service, and I can leisurely poke around it without feeling like I’m wasting money.

iPad gaming today often involves managing in-app purchases and dealing with aggressive banner ads. I don’t mind paying for iOS games or unlocking content with one-time in-app purchases. Family Sharing and Screen Time parental controls give parents a lot of control over how this is managed. Ads in games can be problematic, though, when tapping the wrong link can take you to Safari (and some banner ads have dismiss buttons that are hard for kids to find).

I’ll gladly pay $5-$15/month for a high-quality game service that’s never hijacked with banner ads that lead to sketchy websites through Safari, and there’s nothing more frustrating than downloading a game only to find that every corner of gameplay is hidden behind a separate in-app purchase. (In-app purchases also don’t play nice with Family Sharing, only paid upfront games work well with the current Family Sharing model).

Apple Arcade is designed with Family Sharing in mind, and Apple event highlighted Screen Time parental controls during the keynote.

The list of game makers is also impressive. Disney, Gameloft, SEGA, LEGO, Konami, and Cartoon Network are familiar names as a non-gamer, and real gamers like Federico Viticci are impressed by the names I don’t recognize.

On the developer side, I’m curious about Apple’s role in backing development for these games. I hope we hear more about that aspect, but it’s good to see Apple sharing its resources to put the Arcade service together.

Apple TV+

While services were the theme of the show, Apple’s new streaming video service was the star. But first, a new version of the recently launched TV app.

Apple’s enhanced TV app is as big of an upgrade of the Apple TV as tvOS 11 and tvOS 12 platform updates. The new Apple TV app sports a new design with an updated app icon, a dedicated Kids section for finding family-friendly content based on characters and series, and a new Channels feature.

Channels lets you subscribe to services like HBO and Showtime or CBS All Access and Starz without downloading a separate app from the App Store. Videos play directly in the TV app just like iTunes Movies and TV Shows. (Other content from services like Prime Video with subscriptions sold elsewhere still jump from the TV app to their player apps, but it’s progress!)

Apple TV+, the new streaming video service coming later this fall, consists entirely of original movies and TV shows handpicked and produced for Apple. So far we don’t know that Apple is licensing a back catalog of existing popular movies and TV shows to beef up its steaming video catalog. Instead, Channels is an approach that treats Apple TV+ as additive, not a replacement video service, and the TV app is one home for all video services that want to participate.

Netflix doesn’t see value in playing ball so subscribers can download their app separately, but plenty of other services will work with Channels in the new Apple TV app.

Subscriptions through Channels may not equal savings though. So far the pitch seems to be purely convenience, although it’s possible we’ll see bundles in the future.

Interestingly, Apple is bringing its upgraded TV app to lots of platforms including the usual places like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and it’s coming to the Mac this fall. But the Apple TV app will also debut on Samsung smart TVs this year followed by LG, Vizio, and Sony smart TVs. Roku and Fire TV streaming sticks and boxes will also pick up the Apple TV app.

As we learned after the event, the new Apple TV app will also come to the third-generation Apple TV (the 1080p box, not the 720p version) which should include Channels and eventually the Apple TV+ subscription video service.

Speaking of Apple TV+, we’ve finally got a name for and sneak peek of Apple’s original video content effort. We first learned of Apple’s effort in June 2017 when Apple announced it hired Jamie Ehrlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony Television, tasking the duo with leading video programming in new roles under Eddy Cue.

That announcement was followed by nearly two years of stories from the Hollywood press about new TV show projects being backed by Apple, including a single announcement from Apple about a content deal with Oprah.

Ehrlicht and Van Amburg took the stage to present Apple TV+, marking their first public appearance as Apple employees. Original steaming video content may be new to Apple, but Ehrlicht and Van Amburg owned the presentation without coming off as foreign to Apple.

Then there were the stars. Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Anniston, Steve Carell, Jason Mamoa, Alfre Woodard, Kumail Nanjiani, J.J. Abrams, Sara Bareilles, Big Bird, and a new character named Cody.

As a video streaming service, Apple TV+ looks promising! Apple is fantastic at marketing. Taking the general idea of a video streaming service and spinning it around the concept of great storytelling from trusted story tellers we already love makes the service itself a bit theatric in a good way. Apple didn’t invent the TV show, but the presentation might make you think they just did.

What might be different about Apple TV+ than other services? With Apple Music, the magic at the start was in curation and organizing existing art into playlists. New features like Friends Mix and Favorites Mix take it further, but curation was the initial distinction when first pitched.

With Apple TV+, there’s curation from the taste makers, Jamie and Zach and team, but the content is all new. These shows may have existed elsewhere, but not in this collection. And arguably the upcoming Oprah documentaries teased out may not have.

A lot of early commentary has asked why Apple is bothering with a steaming video service. What difference do they think they can make? As if Apple can only enter a business for moral reasons and not because they see a business opportunity as a company.

But Tim Cook seemed to answer that question in the keynote anyway. Apple loves TV, Cook declared, and they think they can enrich lives through impactful and relatable storytelling that informs and inspires. Lofty goal for a TV service, but the preview wasn’t lackluster.

For example, the Sesame Street Workhouse-created series called Helpsters that was described feels very much in line with Apple’s vision: a female character named Cody who lives in the Sesame Street universe who will teach pre-schoolers about coding. I ate that up as a parent. Apple’s other shows seem to fill the genre spectrum and do look entertaining.

We still don’t know how much the service will cost monthly or exactly how big the catalog will be at launch, but Apple said on stage that new content would be added monthly which is a positive sign that Apple plans to be competitive.

And about the Hollywood stars: I don’t expect we’ll see that repeat again soon. This was a new, one-time unveiling. There may be industry-standard video-only events in the future, we’ll see, but I doubt we’ll see it positioned alongside a new iPhone or iOS features going forward.

As an attendee, there was definitely excitement in the room sitting before the cast that came out on stage. I don’t know how that played out on video, but the event itself felt well paced and highly produced (unless you were awaiting a new Mac announcement).

Generally, though, celebrity endorsements have long been a strategy in marketing (101 classes in college teach this). Beats masters this, and plenty of major companies rely on celebrity endorsements for advertising. The new Apple TV+ service is leaning heavily on it too, but through their involvement in the service’s content. While we’ll likely be introduced to new actors in the future, Apple is addressing being a newcomer to the original content scene by relying on known players in Hollywood.

The single slide with all of the names of talent working with Apple TV+ was like the Hollywood equivalent to a feature slide in a software update at WWDC:

So while Mac Pro fans will likely have to wait a few more months before there’s hardcore hardware news, I viewed Apple’s special services event as generally well-rounded.

Care about any number of specialized topics? Apple News+ may have a magazine or 300 for you. Care about financial health and saving money? There’s Apple Card. Consider yourself a gamer or the parent of one? Apple Arcade. And Apple TV+ has a wide range of talent involved even if you don’t recognize every big name on the giant word cloud.

And while Apple Card is a U.S.-focused service, Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ have large-scale international ambitions. Apple News+ is limited to the U.S. and Canada for now, but Apple promised more countries would come online in the future there as well. All we have to do is wait for summer and fall!

ESR iPad Accessories


Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Read More

Evil Dead’s Ash coming to Dead by Daylight – Polygon

Evil Dead’s Ash coming to Dead by Daylight – Polygon

Ash Williams, the wisecracking demon-killer played by Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead series, is coming to horror game Dead by Daylight as a new survivor.

Campbell delivered the news himself in a new video, confirming that Dead by Daylight’s Ash will be based on the Ash vs. Evil Dead series that ran on Starz from 2015 to 2018. The announcement is spartan; we only see Ash in action for a few seconds. But Ash’s unique survivor perks — Flip-Flop, Buckle Up, and Mettle of Man — leaked earlier this month.

Ash Williams will be available in Dead by Daylight starting April 2. The asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror game is currently available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. A Nintendo Switch version is slated for release in fall 2019.

Dead by Daylight has a variety of licensed killers and survivors, including Michael Myers from Halloween, Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and David Tapp and The Pig from Saw.

Read More

This Simple App Makes Dark Mode on Your Mac Even Better – Gear Patrol

This Simple App Makes Dark Mode on Your Mac Even Better – Gear Patrol

The Magazine

Each issue of Gear Patrol Magazine is a deep dive into product culture. Inside, you’ll find seasonal buying guides, rich maker profiles and long-form dispatches from the front lines of product design. The stunningly designed Gear Patrol Magazine is ready for your coffee table. Quarterly. $39

The Newsletter

Get the best new products, deals, and stories from across the world, in your inbox daily.

Read More

Picking the Best iPad to Buy in 2019 – Mac Rumors

Picking the Best iPad to Buy in 2019 – Mac Rumors
In March 2019, Apple updated its
iPad lineup with two new tablets: the
fifth-generation iPad mini and the
10.5-inch iPad Air. These models are now part of Apple’s full
iPad
line, also including the 9.7-inch
iPad
, 11-inch
iPad Pro, and 12.9-inch
iPad Pro
to make five models total.

iPad Comparison

Which iPad is right for you?

If price is your biggest consideration, you’ll want to look at the basic 9.7-inch
iPad
, knowing it has older technology in it. If you’re looking for portability, check out the
iPad
mini, and if you want a mid-sized
iPad
with a bit more to offer than the entry-level
iPad
, check out the new
iPad
Air.

What about the iPad Pro? Apple’s high-end iPads are in a class by themselves, and it shows in the price. Unless you’re a pro-level user or cost is no object, you’ll probably want to look to cheaper options, but the iPad Pro models deliver cutting-edge technology for those who need it.

With that quick overview out of the way, let’s take a look at what each model has to offer.

iPad Models

9.7-inch iPad

Starting at the low end of the
iPad
price spectrum, Apple has the basic 9.7-inch
iPad
starting at $329 for the Wi-Fi only model. This
iPad
is perfect if you’re on a budget as it’s also frequently on sale, and is popular in the education field.

It has the most important features users are looking for in an iPad, like a generous display, Touch ID, and a decent rear camera, as well as support for the first-generation Apple Pencil if you’re into drawing, handwritten notes, and other tasks that don’t work quite as well with your finger.

iPad Comparison Chart
That low-end price tag does mean there are a few sacrifices, however, as the front FaceTime camera is relatively low resolution compared to other iPads and the display is a definite step down as it lacks rich wide color support, True Tone technology that automatically adjusts overall tone based on ambient light, and an antireflective coating that helps minimize glare on other models. The display also isn’t laminated to the cover glass, so you’ll notice a bit of an air gap rather than feeling like you’re directly touching the screen.

Key specifications include:

  • A 9.7‑inch Retina display
  • Home button with Touch ID
  • A10 Fusion chip
  • 8MP back camera with HDR and 1080p HD video
  • 1.2MP FaceTime HD front camera with HDR
  • Compatible with first-generation Apple Pencil
  • Compatible with Bluetooth keyboards
  • Lightning port
  • Colors include: silver, space gray, and gold

iPad mini

Next up is the newly-updated
iPad
mini, which starts at $399 for Wi-Fi only models. Apple’s refresh of this smaller-sized tablet improved its internals and introduced support for the first-generation
Apple Pencil
, making it a capable mid-range tablet with ultra portability.

With a display size of 7.9 inches, you can’t quite call it pocketable, but the iPad mini is definitely great for having something small on the go that still offers a much larger screen size than even Apple’s largest iPhones.


Looking beyond the display size, this is a very capable device using the same A12 Bionic chip from Apple’s latest iPhones, so it’s a speedy tablet. You’ll get an improved display compared to the entry-level iPad, a much better front FaceTime camera, and support for the first-generation Apple Pencil.

Key specifications include:

  • Fully laminated 7.9‑inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Touch ID
  • A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • 8MP back camera with HDR and 1080p HD video
  • 7MP FaceTime HD front camera with Auto HDR
  • Compatible with first-generation Apple Pencil
  • Compatible with Bluetooth keyboards
  • Lightning port
  • Colors include: silver, space gray, and gold

10.5-inch iPad Air

In the middle of the
iPad
family now sits the 10.5-inch
iPad
Air, starting at $499 for Wi-Fi only models. Apple’s brand-new
iPad
Air is now the perfect mid-tier option with a nice screen size, speedier internals, and first-generation
Apple Pencil
support.

The iPad Air and iPad mini have nearly identical specs aside from the display size, so size is likely going to be the most significant factor if you’re deciding between the two.


The only other significant difference is that the iPad Air has a Smart Connector for easy connection to a Smart Keyboard accessory if you prefer a hardware keyboard for your iPad. The iPad mini’s smaller size means it doesn’t support a Smart Keyboard, although you can still pair a Bluetooth keyboard with it if you like.

Key specifications include:

  • Fully laminated 10.5‑inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Touch ID
  • A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • 8MP back camera with HDR and 1080p HD video
  • 7MP FaceTime HD front camera with Auto HDR
  • Compatible with first-generation Apple Pencil
  • Compatible with Smart Keyboard and Bluetooth keyboards
  • Lightning port
  • Colors include: silver, space gray, and gold

iPad Pro

If you’re looking for true portable workstation power, then the last two iPads in the lineup — the
iPad Pro models — could be what you’re interested in. These tablets were updated in late 2018 with Face ID and a near bezel-less design that mirrors the look of the
iPhone X family.

These iPads, which start at $799 for the smaller 11-inch model and $999 for the 12.9-inch model, are a step up from the iPad Air in almost every way, from an improved “Liquid Retina” display with rounded corners and ProMotion technology for smoother display performance to a more powerful A12X chip and a better 12-megapixel rear camera with flash. You’ll also get support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, which magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro and charges wirelessly.


To be honest, the iPad Pro is overkill for most mainstream users, but if you’re a pro-level user or just want the latest technology, the iPad Pro has a lot to offer.

The main difference between the two iPad Pros is their screen sizes, so the following key specifications are for both models:

  • 11‑inch and 12.9-inch Liquid Retina displays with ProMotion technology and True Tone
  • Face ID
  • A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • 12MP back camera with Smart HDR and 4K video at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 7MP TrueDepth front camera with Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Smart HDR
  • Compatible with second-generation Apple Pencil
  • Compatible with Smart Keyboard Folio and Bluetooth keyboards
  • USB-C connector instead of Lightning
  • Colors include: silver and space gray

Customization Options

Now that we’ve looked at the base specs of each of
iPad
models, it’s time to think about various options like storage, cellular connectivity, and
AppleCare+.

Storage: There are several storage options for each iPad, so think about how much you might need. On the low end, the 9.7-inch iPad is available in two sizes not seen anywhere else in the iPad family: 32GB ($329) and 128GB ($100 upgrade at $429).

For the just-released iPad mini and iPad Air, Apple is offering two storage options: 64GB ($399 for mini and $499 for Air) and 256GB (a $150 upgrade on the previous prices).


Lastly, the iPad Pro has the most storage capacity options. You can choose from the base 64GB option ($799 for 11-inch and $999 for 12.9-inch), or 256GB ($150 upgrade from base), 512GB ($350 upgrade from base), and 1TB ($750 upgrade from base).

Power-heavy users should always look to the higher-capacity iPad models to ensure they don’t have to worry about constantly deleting apps and other files for storage space. Otherwise, Apple’s iCloud is a great way to offload files and lets you opt for a cheaper iPad with less storage.

Unless you’re storing a large local music library, downloading lots of video for offline playback, have a ton of huge apps, or doing pro-level work requiring lots of large files, mainstream users can usually get away with the lowest-tier storage options.

Cellular Connectivity: If you need to ensure that you can use your iPad at any time, including when you’re not near a Wi-Fi connection, you can opt for a Wi-Fi + Cellular option to ensure you’re always connected.

Cellular support adds $130–$150 onto the price of all corresponding Wi-Fi iPad models, depending on which iPad and which storage capacity. You’ll also have to sign up for a data plan for an additional cost with a supported carrier, like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon in the United States.

All told, it’s not a cheap upgrade, and many users prefer using their phone as a hotspot to deliver connectivity to a Wi-Fi iPad while on the go. But if you’re phone plan doesn’t allow for hotspot usage or you just want the convenience of having your iPad connected directly to a cellular network at all times, the option is there.

AppleCare+: New iPads come with one year of hardware repair coverage through Apple’s limited warranty policy, as well as up to 90 days of complimentary support. But if you want more coverage, Apple offers optional AppleCare+ packages priced at $69 for the 9.7-inch iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Air or $129 for the iPad Pro.

AppleCare+ extends your iPad‘s coverage to two years from the purchase date and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, subject to a service fee of $49 plus applicable taxes in the United States. Prices vary elsewhere.


iPad AppleCare+ plans also cover accidental damage to the Apple Pencil for up to two years with a $29 fee plus tax per incident. AppleCare+ provides 24/7 priority access to support advisors via online chat or phone for up to two years after the iPad‘s original purchase date.

Apple charges high fees for accidental damage to a new iPad without AppleCare+, so as with most forms of insurance, the plan can pay for itself if ever used. AppleCare+ must be added within 60 days of purchasing a device.

Accessories

Each
iPad
has a plethora of accessories to choose from for protection, style, or usability, many of which Apple creates and sells itself on Apple.com and in
Apple retail stores.

Apple Pencil: The Apple Pencil is a stylus most popular with artists but also used by others, providing a comfortable and streamlined way to interact with the tablet. The second-generation Apple Pencil introduced sleek design changes, magnetic charging on iPad Pro, and gesture controls, none of which are available on the original Apple Pencil.


It might be unclear which iPads support which Apple Pencil models, but with the new iPad mini and iPad Air it’s become a bit simpler. In short, the iPad Pro uses the second-generation Apple Pencil while all other iPad models work with the first-generation Apple Pencil.

First-Generation Apple Pencil ($100): 9.7-inch iPad (2018), fifth-generation iPad mini (2019), 10.5-inch iPad Air (2019)

Second-Generation Apple Pencil ($130): 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2018)

In the end, if you’re only looking to purchase an iPad as a convenient app-browsing, email-checking, or FaceTime device, you don’t need an Apple Pencil. But if you’re an artist or other creative with a penchant for drawing or taking digital handwritten notes, Apple’s stylus is definitely an enhancement to the iPad experience.

For a more in-depth look at the differences between the two Apple Pencils, check out our comparison.

Cases: Apple sells Smart Cover and Smart Folio cases for all of its iPads, priced depending on the size of the device. You’ll pay $39.00 for a 9.7-inch iPad Smart Cover, $39.00 for an iPad mini Smart Cover, $49.00 for an iPad Air Smart Cover, $79.00 for an 11-inch iPad Pro Smart Folio, and $99.00 for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro Smart Folio.


These cases magnetically attach to your iPad, offering a degree of protection while also allowing you to place the tablet in numerous angled positions. The difference between the two is that the iPad Pro‘s Smart Folio cases protect the rear of the tablet as well as the front, while the Smart Cover cases only protect the front.

Keyboards: If you’re looking to do a lot of work on an iPad Pro, Apple also sells the Smart Keyboard Folio at $179.00 for the 11-inch model and $199.00 for the 12.9-inch model. This case is just like the Smart Folio, with an added Bluetooth keyboard for enhanced productivity. A similar accessory is available for the 10.5-inch iPad Air.


These Apple-made cases are compatible with iPads that have a Smart Keyboard connector, which is a special port that magnetically attaches the keyboard to the side of the iPad.

Otherwise, you can also look into popular iPad keyboard manufacturers like Brydge, Logitech, and Belkin, all of which sell Bluetooth keyboards that connect to iPads wirelessly. Keyboard cases are more expensive than your average case due to the added input use, but if you really plan on doing a lot of work and writing on your iPad, the two-in-one keyboard/protection combo is the way to go. The hardware keyboards give a much better typing experience and free up screen space on your iPad by getting rid of the software keyboard.

Cables: Apple’s iPad lineup now has differing cable standard, making matters a bit confusing. The easy way to remember is that if you’re purchasing anything that’s not an iPad Pro, you’ll be charging the iPad with a regular Apple Lightning cable.


If you’re going with an iPad Pro, then you’ll be using USB-C cables. All iPads come with their required cables in the box, but if you don’t have many around the house it’s always a good idea to stock up on more. Apple sells individual cables, but you can always shop around on Amazon for cheap and reliable brands like Anker, Aukey, and RAVPower.

So… Which iPad Should You Buy?

Overall, Apple’s brand-new
10.5-inch iPad Air is a perfect all-encompassing tablet that should hit the check marks for many buyers. You can do everything from quickly browsing Twitter and checking emails to getting a few hours of work done with a paired keyboard, which isn’t bad for the $499 starting price.

If you’re someone who has preferred the 7.9-inch form factor of the iPad mini over the years, Apple’s latest small-sized tablet is well worth the update and has nearly all of the features of the new iPad Air. The iPad mini doesn’t have a Smart Keyboard connector like the iPad Air or a Smart Keyboard case of its own, but since the iPad mini isn’t exactly a workstation device, that’s not a bad trade-off (plus, you can still connect it to a Bluetooth keyboard if you want).

For $100 less than the iPad Air at $399 (64GB Wi-Fi), you’ll still have a nice laminated display with True Tone and antireflective coating, Touch ID, the speedy A12 Bionic chip, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and the same cameras, all in an ultra-portable 7.9-inch tablet.


If you’re shopping around for a cheap tablet for a kid, definitely consider Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad, which sees discounts below its $329 price tag pretty often. Sale prices in the $230–$250 range are not unheard of, and pairing the iPad with a super-rugged child-proof case is a perfect birthday or holiday present. Frugal shoppers should also check out Apple’s refurbished store to shop around for older-model iPads offered at discount.

And, of course, on the other end are the power users. If you’re willing to spend the money to spec-out a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you’ll get a super reliable mobile workstation with 10-hour battery life in a 1.4 lb package. If you travel frequently for work, or just like setting up at a coffee shop during the day, the iPad Pro has a chance to become your MacBook replacement with a paired keyboard.

The most recent additions to Apple’s iPad lineup provides a wide variety of options and offers clear distinctions between tablets that should help make your decision a little easier.

Read More