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.