iPad Pro

Rumored larger device could be very good news
Looking at the Apple product range right now, including both the devices presently available and those in the pipeline for the coming months, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's not much more the Cupertino firm could do. However, there must certainly is one more product in the offing for early next year, at least if widespread reports are to be believed: an iPad Pro.

The most recent October keynote was a big one for all admirers of Apple's well established tablet, with a lithe iPad Air 2 breaking cover alongside the iPad mini 3. Indeed, the use of the term 'Air' mimics the naming conventions applied to the MacBook Air and Pro laptops, which begs the question... will we get a more professional or educationally oriented larger version of the tablet, bearing the name 'iPad Pro'?

The 'professionals' tablet' is certainly one category with growth potential, with Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 being an obvious rival for any offering from the Cupertino stable.


An attractive proposition For professionals
An iPad Pro would seem to make sense in a number of respects, given the opportunity that such a device would present for a beefy new processor for running heavy desktop class applications, encompassing professional photo and video editing, 3D rendering/modeling and real multitasking. Such a combination of functionalities would surely represent the next big step for tablets.

In recent years, it's appeared that we are heading swiftly in the direction of ever-smaller mobile devices, so the reversal of that trend that the larger 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus apparently represented came as a surprise to some observers.

However, with those new devices being so well-received critically and commercially, there's reason to wonder whether the experience with the larger screens could be repeated with the same success with the iPad.

size matters, at least For the ipad pro
Back in late August when Bloomberg reported on the possibility of such a device, suggesting that production was "scheduled to commence by the first quarter of next year", the talk - "according to people with knowledge of the matter" was of a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally.

That, of course, would be a significant jump on the 7.9 inches and 9.7 inches of the currently available iPads, and would also match the Surface Pro 3's display real estate. At the beginning of this month, however, it was reported by the Japanese language macotakara website which has a good record of accuracy as far as the details of future Apple products are concerned that a slightly smaller 12.2-inch screen was also a possibility.

That report gave us some further intriguing information about the form that an iPad Pro could take. The site's source apparently predicted a front-projection form factor similar to that of the Surface Pro 3,and that while the device would be thicker than the 6.1mm iPad Air 2, the exact measurement would be somewhere between the 6.9mm iPhone 6 and the 7.1mm iPhone 6 Plus.

we could be in For impressive power, too
Various other design features were referenced in the macotakara report, including two additional speakers and an extra microphone apparently to be found on the top of the device, possibly making the device "capable of supporting stereo audio".

There have also been rumors that the ipad Pro will make use of the iPad Air 2's A8X processor.However, other speculation points to an enhanced version of the company's 64-bit A7 chip possibly being favored.

One other normally very reliable source of information on upcoming Apple products is KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said earlier this month that the larger tablet would not now enter mass production until the second quarter of 2015 at least, given ongoing manufacturing issues. Kuo blamed the delay on the extra time needed by Apple to improve component yield and assembly.

This, in turn, is apparently needed due to Apple's plans for an oxide panel in the device to make possible a "high resolution, quick response and high color saturation."

there certainly seems to be a market For such a device
Another of Kuo's predictions is a 54.4 percent quarter-over-quarter slide in iPad shipments to just 9.8 million units in 2015's first calendar quarter. Sure enough, the last three quarters have seen decreased sales of the venerable tablet, despite a still healthy sounding 12.3 million iPads having been sold during the fourth fiscal quarter of this year.

Kuo blamed the wider tablet market's "structural challenges characterized by a lack of new applications and market saturation" for the decline, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that such figures represent a mere "speed bump" that the company can overcome. Earlier this year, he told investors that the iPad still presented scope for "significant innovation", and there's plenty of  reason to suggest that an iPad Pro would be a major boost to the range.

With smartphones recently taking on everbigger screens, it's fair to say that they've been eating into the territory of their tablet bigger brothers. It seems that many of those who may have previously purchased an iPad mini or even the standard tablet may decide that an iPhone 6 Plus or other 'phablet' serves their needs perfectly well, creating the need for a tablet that makes its product category stand out once more.

how the ipad pro could replace the traditional laptop
The iPad's pretentions of replacing the time honored laptop computer have long been mocked by many, but that could come closer to reality with the release of the iPad Pro.

IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani has predicted that businesses, schools and governments will account for an ever-greater proportion of tablet purchasers. He said that in the second quarter of this year, those groups already represented 16 percent of tablet sales, a 13 percent rise on a year earlier.

Ubrani commented in an interview that he expected the enterprise market to be particularly attracted to larger tablets, and Apple appears to think likewise, given its announcement in January of a partnership with International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). Part of the idea behind the pact, according to Cook, was to sell to corporations to make them "a catalyst for future iPad growth."

Extra features That have been mooted
As mentioned, there's been a lot of speculation about the many features that an iPad Pro could sport to make it attractive to these enterprise customers, and as invariably turns out to be the case ahead of iDevice launches, some of those rumors will be further off the mark than others.

Could we, for example, see a proprietary Apple iPad keyboard case break cover? Prior to the unveiling of the iPad Air, erstwhile Apple fellow Jamie Ryan said that then current employees of the Cupertino firm had told him of such a case being in the prototyping stage, apparently modeled on the Microsoft Surface Touch Cover.

There's also been talk, for all of the late Steve Jobs' derogatory comments about styluses, of the iPad Pro being packaged with an iPen to make it a more feasible rival to Samsung's business oriented Galaxy Note Pro, with its S Pen. Apple patents have been released in the online media for both a keyboard cover and a stylus in the past, so neither of the aforementioned are necessarily outlandish ideas.

The iPad Pro could also be made a greater productivity tool by the incorporation of split screen multitasking, as seen on such devices as Microsoft's Surface. This was previously in May reported by 9to5Mac as a likely feature of iOS 8.

Loads of reason for Excitement
3D engineering, heavy desktop class applications, a powerful processor, healthy battery life... they've all been talked about as possible selling points of the eventual iPad Pro, but right now, it's difficult to judge how likely they all are to come to pass.

All that we can really do is wait but with the rumors gathering pace that there definitely will be such an iPad in the open by early next year, we'd be saving your money right now if we were you.

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