Saturday, January 25, 2014

iPad Pro

For several months now rumours have spread that a new type of iPad will be released this year  - the iPad Pro. Variously sized at 12 or 13 inches, compared to the iPad Air's 10 inches, it would extend the iPad lineup further into larger dimensions. 

All the rumours have focused on size, but Apple integrates both hardware, software and services, and to me the really interesting areas are the latter. What software and services should a 'Pro' device come with?

Clearly Apple could tailor existing iOS apps such as the iWork and iLife suites to larger screen sizes. But other apps could be ported from MacOS too - most notably, software development tools such as XCode or a sandboxed, stripped back Terminal with tools for scripting apps. After all developers are one of the largest groups of 'Pros'. I'm not suggesting that Apple will open up root permissions directly to the iPad - instead each app is likely to be a containerized and perhaps only have access to other data via iCloud. 

iCloud itself could play a much larger role in a Pro device. It would enable each app to access a common document store, synced from iCloud. That enables a text document, image or video saved in one app to be opened up again in another one. 

iOS itself could see some changes. A 13 inch device has 70% more screen space than the iPad Air - so could we see a window manager, enabling apps to be worked side by side? Lack of tiling apps has to be one of the major outstanding barriers to productivity on iOS. One way to do this might be to require applications to work in both full screen and iPad mini sizes. 

An iPad Pro with the features above would be a great tool for professional use and a massive competitor to traditional PCs. It would also open up App Store to a new market and new possibilities. Much worthier of the Pro label than just a bigger iPad Air. 

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