The third generation iPad Mini was announced on October 16, 2014 and was released on October 22, 2014; it features the same hardware as the Mini 2 and the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor compatible with Apple Pay.
On September 9, 2015, Apple released the iPad Mini 4.
The iPad Mini comes with several pre-installed applications, including Siri, Safari, Mail, Photos, Video, Music, iTunes, App Store, Maps, Notes, Calendar, Game Center, Photo Booth, and Contacts. Like all iOS devices, the iPad can sync content and other data with a Mac or PC using iTunes and to Apple’s iCloud online service. Although the tablet is not designed to make telephone calls over a cellular network, users can use a headset or the built-in speaker and microphone and place phone calls over Wi-Fi or cellular using a VoIP application, such as Skype. iPads offer dictation when connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network.
Applications from Apple and third-party developers can be downloaded through the App Store, an application distribution market for iOS that is maintained and regulated by Apple. The service allows users to browse and purchase applications. Optional apps from Apple that can be purchased through the App Store include GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto, and the iWork apps (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) are available.
The device has an optional iBooks application, which displays books and other ePub-format content downloaded from the iBookstore. Several major book publishers including Penguin Books, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan have committed to publishing books for the device. Despite the iPad being a direct competitor to both the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble offer e-reader apps for the iPad.
The current version of iOS is iOS 9, which all iPad Mini models can run; older models can upgrade to it as a free download. The first generation iPad Mini shipped with iOS 6.0.
On June 8, 2015, it was announced at the WWDC that all three generations of the iPad Mini would support iOS 9. However, certain new multitasking features, such as Slide Over and Picture in Picture, will be limited to the second and third generation. Split View, another new multitasking feature, is only available on the iPad Mini 4.
There are four buttons and one switch on the iPad Mini, including a “home” button near the display that returns the user to the home screen, and three aluminum buttons on the right side and top: wake/sleep and volume up and volume down, plus a software-controlled switch whose function varies with software updates. The tablet is manufactured either with or without the capability to communicate over a cellular network. All models can connect to a wireless LAN via Wi-Fi. The iPad Mini is available with 16, 32, 64 and 128 GB of internal flash memory, with no expansion option. Apple sells a “camera connection kit” with an SD card reader, but it can only be used to transfer photos and videos.
The first generation iPad Mini features partially the same hardware as the iPad 2. Both screens have resolutions of 1024×768, but the iPad Mini has a smaller screen and thus higher pixel density than iPad 2 (163 PPI vs. 132 PPI). Unlike the iPad 2, it has 5 MP and 1.2 MP cameras and the Lightning connector. The system-on-chip is A5, which is the same one found in the later revision of the iPad 2 (32 nm). The audio processor is the same found in iPhone 5 and iPad 4th generation, which allows the iPad Mini to have Siri and voice dictation unlike the iPad 2. The graphics processor (GPU) of the first generation iPad Mini is the same one found in the iPad 2 (PowerVR SGX543MP2).