March is just around the corner, and with it comes the wish lists and rumor-mill pre-game shows leading up to a probable Apple Event. The spring time is when we have come to expect new iPad announcements that often include accessories with with some occasional iPhone goodness sprinkled in for good measure. This year appears to be no different. In fact, this year might actually be one of the busiest spring Apple Events in recent memory.
All the usual, mostly reliable suspects are chiming in, and many of them have been predicting very similar announcements. Tops on the list of predictions is the release of a new iPad screen size in the lineup. The size reference to this new iPad size varies somewhat, but it is expected to be in the 10.5″ to 10.9″ range, with the latest supply line leaks suggesting more than likely to be 10.5″.
As we close the book on January, the rumors of a March Apple event centered on the iPad are coming fast and furious now. There are multiple reports of a new iPad Pro in a different size, an Apple Pencil refresh, and potentially some other Apple device updates, as well. With the iPad line progressively trending away from the Air and Mini and toward the Pro line over the last year, this next event should give us some clarification as Apple’s intentions for the tablet category going forward. This will be especially interesting given the continuing declines in year over year sales and profits for the iPad line that we recently learned about during Apple’s quarterly sales call.
I’ve been seeing an increasing number of posts on the existence of a larger 12.9″ iPad Pro. I think the main audience for a larger iPad would be business users and power users looking for a really light laptop replacement, and I’m not convinced the increased size alone will sell the device. That got me thinking: what would some of the defining features of a large iPad be?
Weight is a huge factor for the iPad. If the primary measurement of a new Apple smartphone is how thin it is, the measure of a new iPad is how little it weighs. The Air 2 really hit the sweet spot for me. It’s just light enough to be comfortable for long reading periods and even extended thumb typing sessions (like this one). It’s also light enough to support in one hand while I read a recipe or article.
iOS 9 will bring a host of great keyboard shortcuts this Fall, but even with those improvements, I don’t think the iPad ready to compete as a laptop replacement without having a deep knowledge of specialized apps to overcome limitations in iOS (e.g. Document management, photo and video editing, and automation apps like Drafts or IF).
At 9.7“, the Air 2 doesn’t really have to act like a traditional computer because it’s so much more portable than even most Ultrabooks. It’s light enough to pick up and use almost all of the time, and a keyboard can be attached to it for longer writing sessions. But at 12.9” on an iPad Pro, you’re basically using the screen of a MacBook Pro, and I think that extra space will be begging to be maximized in a stationary position at a desk. A larger iPad is a lot more device from corner to corner, and I highly doubt it will feel as light in the hand, unless the device’s weight is somehow concentrated in the centre.
All of this is to say that, as a fan of the iPad, I can’t quote wrap my head around what would lead us to want a larger iPad. The only thing I can think of that might make an iPad Pro viable as an all-in-one device is if Apple nails the keyboard with Force Touch integration. If the software keyboard becomes so good that I won’t even care to bring a physical keyboard around with me…well, that would sell me on an iPad Pro.
Apple has updated their WWDC app today ahead of their annual developer conference set to kick-off on Monday, June 8th @ 1 pm EST. If you have never taken the time to look over the iPad version of the app, I urge you to take a look. There is a vast library of audio and video sessions from previous World Wide Developer Conferences that are available for free. You can create favorite lists to sort and set aside to view later, download or stream videos, and even leave feedback if you so desire.
Apple has really done a great job of providing a ton of information for developers who are unable to attend the conference in person , as well as anyone else who is interested in learning about specific sessions. A quick glance of the available content indicated that Apple is making sessions from as far back as 2011 available to view.
When Apple introduces iOS 9 next month at WWDC, they are widely expected to use their typical yearly upgrade cycle as an opportunity to shore up the OS, and concentrate on stability versus a laundry list of new feature sets. Some refer to the idea as the Snow Leopard update–referring to the OS X update that did the same for the Mac several years ago. While this would be a welcomed change for the die-hard iOS faithful, an iOS update without new features would not go over well with the masses.
Enter Force Touch to save the day! Force Touch was originally introduced on the Apple Watch last fall at the iPhone 6 announcement. It has most recently made its way to the new MacBook, and is expected to be the major feature update to new iPhones and iPads in late summer/early fall. With Force Touch your touch screen reacts to changes in pressure and produces real-time haptic feedback. Described as a new level of control that responds to the heaviness of your response, Force Touch might replace common toggles and media controls simply by adjusting how hard we press on our iPad screen.
Unfortunately, we probably won’t see or hear about Force Touch at WWDC since new hardware features are unlikely to be announced months before new iPhones and iPads make an appearance. However, Mark G of 9to5 Mac is reporting that Apple is working with developers to integrate their apps with Force Touch to coincide with iOS 9 when it is released along side new iPhones and iPads later this year. He goes on to say that deep integration with stock Apple apps is likely. Pressure sensitive scrolling in media players, adding new events in the calendar app, dropping pins in Apple Maps, and system-wide definitions are all a possibility with Force Touch.
One of the most sought after “missing” features on the iPad platform has been the ability ti use split-screen multi-tasking. Other competing tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Surface Pro 3 have already successfully offered this feature. One could argue whether the implementation is on point–but nonetheless, it’s an option that the iPad doesn’t offer. This summer, however, that may all finally change if you believe what M. Gurman from 9to5Mac is reporting. Gurman says that Apple is set to debut a variation of multi-tasking as early as WWDC next month. He goes on to report that they were working toward a release last summer with iOS 8, but ended up putting it on the back-burner while they diverted resources to complete work on the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Gurman also reports that multi-tasking should be available for iPads running iOS 9, but that the feature was ultimately intended for the new, larger sized iPad Pro. It is believed that apps that support the feature will divide the screen real-estate into variations of 1/2, 1/3 or 2/3 views depending on which apps you may be using at the time. In addition, Apple has designed the screen-sharing to work with two separate apps or the same app displaying multiple views side by side.
Apple is rumored to be announcing a larger screen iPad sometime later this summer–possibly during WWDC, with a release date expected somewhere in the fall. This has been a persistent rumor that has been around for a while but has gained some momentum since the beginning of the year. Some potential rumored hardware features include an Apple supported stylus, support for Force Touch technology in the screen similar to what is now found in the new MacBook, and possibly even a USB-C connection in addition to, or instead of a Lightning connector.
Most of the tech media has been anticipating a larger iPad form factor for months. Last weekend, Apple Insider reported that someone familiar with Apple’s future products has indicated that in addition to the afore mentioned features, a larger iPad “Pro” will also include the following
- 12.5-13″ screen size
- NFC Radio to be used as an Apple Pay terminal
- New touchscreen to coincide with pressure sensitive, Bluetooth connected Apple Stylus
- Upgraded A-Series processor
So this begs the question–If this limited amount of “rumored” info resembles what Apple releases this fall, are you interested in buying a larger screen iPad? If so, what would be the appeal for you? Are you an artist by trade, and are intrigued by the possibility of a pressure sensitive stylus and improved touchscreen that also responds to levels of applied pressure? What are the advantages of a device that’s as large as a MBA, but isn’t as powerful or versatile? One would expect Apple to bring the same ForceTouch technology to it’s whole iPad line in addition to the iPhone–unless it would be reserved for the top of the line products such as the iPad Pro and the iPhone 6S Plus we expect to be announced later this summer.
I can’t help but think such a device would hover around the $1000 price-point, too. Is there enough appeal/up-side to use iOS over OS X on a similar sized form-factor? A larger device with a steeper price tag would probably warrant a case of some sort for protection as well–further increasing care and investment costs. Who is the target consumer here? Does the Pro label indicate a niche audience like the Mac Pro? Seems like for the most part it would be too large to be effective as an education/demonstrative tool in schools, too. Perhaps when/if Apple releases this device they will have a price tag and a use-case scenario that will make sense–but right now, I just don’t see it. Am I in the minority here? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Steve Jobs in April 2010:
Q: How do you close applications when multitasking?
A: (Scott Forstall) You don’t have to. The user just uses things and doesn’t ever have to worry about it.
A: (Steve Jobs) It’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager… they blew it. Users shouldn’t ever have to think about it.
Given the above, one of this week’s top iPad rumors is a heck of a strange one to see. As Apple Insider reports that an Apple analyst with a solid reputation, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, is predicting that Apple will offer a stylus this year for the heavily-rumored, 12.x inch iPad Pro:
In a report obtained on Sunday by AppleInsider, well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said numerous stylus-related patents filed by the Cupertino-based company (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) and his own research lead him to believe the iPad maker will launch a stylus in the second quarter of this year to compliment the 12.9-inch so-called “iPad Pro.”
“Given that it’s more precise than a person’s fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use than the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases,” Kuo wrote. “Therefore, we believe Apple’s stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad.”
Strange as this rumor may be on the face of it, Apple have a bit of a track record for bringing out products that Steve Jobs has previously had nothing but contempt for. Heck, the iPad mini is a prime example of just that. So I won’t be shocked to see a stylus as an iPad Pro companion at some point this year.
The big question will be if the stylus is any good. I honestly haven’t seen any stylus for a mobile device that has really grabbed me since way back in the days of Windows Mobile.
Well, right about the time we’d expect, we’ve got rumors of a date for this year’s iPad announcement event. And that date is Thursday October 16, at least according to rumors reported by 9to5Mac and others yesterday. Now of course official invites have not yet gone out from Apple and we have also not seen the damn-near-official ‘Yep’ from Jim Dalrymple at The Loop – so take the 10/16 date with as many grains of salt as you fancy for now.
One thing that seems to be the strong consensus view at the moment is that expectations are low for the new iPad announcements this year. The iPad event is said to be held on Apple’s own campus, rather than a bigger external venue like they had last month for the new iPhones launch. It also looks like the focus of the event will be split between new iPads, the new version of Mac OS X (Yosemite), and new Retina iMacs.
9to5Mac outlines the low expectations for the iPad announcements:
the iPad update is expected to be minor — likely adding a gold option, Touch ID and an anti-reflective coating on the screen. We also haven’t heard much about the split-screen multitasking since it was left off the initial iOS 8 release.
A ‘big’ wild card would be the 12.9-inch iPad Pro which has long been rumored for early 2015 but as we know from the Apple Watch, Tim Cook isn’t shy about announcing new categories early.
Obviously, I’m hopeful that Apple will exceed the low expectations in some way. Maybe by unveiling that bigger iPad Pro, or even with some unexpected new upgrades and features for the iPad Air and iPad mini.
The iPad rumor mill is finally starting to churn a little more over the last couple of weeks – and it’s about time since October has become the new standard timeframe for new iPad launches. This week’s iPad rumors are in keeping with the general theme of low expectations for October iPad announcements.
The gist of what I’ve seen this week is something like this:
— Expect a new iPad Air next month – with not a huge amount of change to it, but adding the TouchID feature, likely a little slimmer, and possibly 2GB of RAM.
— Either a Retina iPad mini with very little changed or no new Retina iPad mini until Q1 of 2015.
— Then the long-rumored iPad Pro – at a whopping 12 or 13 inches – but the middle of 2015.
I’m a Retina iPad mini user and enjoy the smaller form factor, so of course I’m hoping that these latest rumors are wrong about the lack of a new mini until early next year. I am looking forward to seeing Touch ID on the iPad though, and the iPad Pro has always sounded like a natural addition to the iPad line.
It shouldn’t be too long now before at least some of these rumors become actual announcements from Apple.
Next Tuesday, September 9, Apple is holding one of their special (announcement events. This has been expected to feature the unveiling of two new iPhones and possibly the mythical iWatch that’s been rumored seemingly forever.
Now, according to one Wall Street analyst, there may also be a new iPad Air unveiling at Tuesday’s event – as Apple Insider reports:
At a media event already expected to be packed with the unveiling of two new iPhone models and a so-called “iWatch,” the company may also showcase its next full-size iPad Air with Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a new gold color option, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Further speculation from Kuo suggests that the 2nd-gen iPad Air will see some substantial upgrades, while the Retina iPad mini may not see much change at all:
Specifically, he believes the next iPad Air will have an anti-reflective screen coating, a full-lamination touch panel, a new gold-colored casing, and a next-generation A8 processor. He also expects the device to adopt the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that debuted last year in the iPhone 5s.
Kuo said that the iPad mini “may” be updated this year with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but expressed less confidence about the company’s diminutive 7.9-inch tablet.
As a fan of the smaller form factor iPad mini, I’m certainly hoping that last point is proved inaccurate. I also wouldn’t be surprised at all if this particular rumor proves false and all new iPad announcements are held off until a separate Apple event in October.
What do you all think? Would you bet on seeing new iPad details at next Tuesday’s event?