Apple’s iPad became thinner and more powerful than ever with the iPad Air series, but the iconic tablet is expected to go Pro. The purported iPad Pro is the next evolution of Apple’s long-running slate, one that could serve as a laptop replacement with a larger screen, beefier processor and attachable keyboard. From a Bluetooth stylus to Force Touch capability, here are some of the more noteworthy rumors surrounding the iPad Pro.
If the iPad is going to replace your MacBook, it needs to get bigger. That’s exactly what might happen this year, as several rumors are pointing to a 12.9-inch display, which would be even larger than the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro’s 12.2-inch screen.
This bigger screen could be Apple’s sharpest ever for a tablet, as a report from TechRadar suggests that Apple is prepping both 2K and 4K displays for the Pro. The Air already packs a 2048 x 1536 display, but TechRadar is expecting something closer to 2560 x 1600, with a rumored 4K model that could pack close to 4096 x 3072 pixels.
Because the iPad Pro will likely target creative professionals, it makes sense that Apple include a pen. According to AppleInsider, Apple’s next slate will feature a Bluetooth stylus that’s pressure sensitive. This will allow users to draw, take notes and annotate on the fly. There are several third-party styli available for the iPad, including the Pencil by FiftyThree and a number of other models from the likes of Wacom and Targus.
One USPTO filing reported by Patently Apple points to a patent related to stylus orientation detection, which would allow a touchscreen to react differently based on various types of stylus strokes. Is the iPen almost upon us?
An iPad Pro with a 4K display would require more processing power than ever, which leads many to believe Apple is crafting a a more powerful processor for its next tablet. This would likely make use of the desktop-class 64-bit architecture already seen in its A8 chip for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The iPad Air 2 sports an A8X chip, which is 40 percent faster than the A7 inside the first-generation iPad Air. But the iPad Pro could pack a newer and more powerful A Series processor to facilitate better multitasking and silky smooth pen input.
Similar to the latest MacBook touchpads and Apple Watch, AppleInsider also reports that the new iPad will offer Force Touch capability. For instance, you might be able to press down on an address in an email to see it pop up on a map. Or you could preview a link in search results without having to open a separate tab. This feature makes a lot of sense when you have a 12.9-inch canvas.
AppleInsider also reports that the 12.9-inch iPad will have NFC inside, which will make it easier to pair devices like the new Bluetooth stylus. The tablet may use its NFC capability to accept Apple Pay, but we doubt many would whip out a huge slate to make payments when they already have their iPhone on them. It’s more likely that businesses will use the new iPad as a payment terminal.
Apple’s Smart Cover could be getting a lot smarter. According to a recent patent filing, Apple could release a Smart Cover with a full keyboard, much like the Type Cover on Microsoft’s Surface. Apple’s patent suggests a keyboard that could operate independently from the cover, allowing you to attach the keyboard to your iPad in a variety of configurations or use the accessory wirelessly. This keyboard may also support gesture controls on a small panel, which would eliminate the need for a traditional touchpad.
Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint-reading home button is on the iPad Air 2, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t make its way to the iPad Pro. Touch ID allows users to unlock their device and authorize purchases with a tap of their finger.
In addition to supporting your fingerprints, the iPad Pro could utilize your eyeballs. The tablet could boast eye-tracking technology according to International Business Times, though there aren’t any specifics on how the function could work.
It’s safe to assume that the iPad Pro will run the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS. This would allow iPad Pro users to access iOS features like predictive typing, third-party keyboards and the iWork suite of apps, which would lend itself well to a productivity-minded tablet.
However, Apple could go even further towards making the iPad Pro a laptop replacement by infusing the tablet with OS X, which runs on all of the company’s desktops and laptops. A concept video from Set Solution demonstrates how OS X could work on an iPad, and there have even been rumblings that OS X and iOS could eventually become a single operating system.
Apple execs Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi shot down these rumors, but did note that there should be some cohesion between the two systems in a MacWorld interview. We don’t believe dual-booting Apple tablet is on the company’s near-term roadmap, but that’s doesn’t mean we wouldn’t appreciate the versatility.
Regardless, we would like to see Apple innovate with iOS to make the most of the iPad Pro’s larger display, similar to the Multi Window multitasking feature on the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. Why not let iPad owners run two apps on the screen (or more) at once?
The iPad Pro is now expected to go into production in September 2015, according to a Bloomberg report. CultofMac noted that we might not see the larger slate until the second half of the year, with mass production only taking place in the third quarter.