iPad mini: the New Cockpit Backup Device?
Apple’s iPad mini is likely poised to become the backup cockpit chart display device of choice for pilots, according to some aviation iOS app developers. The mini’s 7.9-inch (diagonal) screen is smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad, but the device contains the same A5 processor as the iPad 2 and tips the scales at less than half the iPad 2’s 1.5 pounds. Jeppesen has already concluded decompression testing of the newest iPad (fourth generation) and the mini, both of which started shipping earlier this week.
The mini’s screen is smaller than the iPad’s and display elements thus are 18-percent smaller. “It’s not a huge reduction,” said Rick Ellerbrock, Jeppesen’s director for aviation strategy. “It’s something we don’t think is going to be a usability issue.” Approach plates are a bit smaller on the mini versus the iPad, he added, “but it’s surprisingly readable.”
Apple “turned out a fantastically light and usable device,” said Hilton Goldstein, founder of Hilton Software, the company that developed the WingX Pro 7 app. “I might be going out on a limb here, but I believe iPad mini will be more popular than iPad.”
ForeFlight Mobile blogged about the mini during a test flight: “One-handed operation is great for reading, briefing approach plates and even panning sectional charts with one thumb. Also, yoke mounting is now a pleasure.”