Sales of the iPad have been anemic for over a year now, but there have been rumors that Apple will jumpstart demand with a larger model, possibly called the iPad Pro. The company unveiled new features in iOS 9 this week that make this a virtual certainty.
The most notable change is the addition of side-by-side multitasking, so that two apps can be shown on the screen simultaneously, allowing someone to easily refer to both. This is a useful feature to have on a 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, but would be even better on a larger screen… like the one in the tablet Apple is supposedly working on
This device will supposedly be focused on business users — the sort of people who expect to be able to easily refer to an Excel spreadsheet while writing an email, or have a web page open while editing a Word document. Most of the reports about the iPad Pro indicate that it will have 12.9-inch display, so it will be big enough allow someone to work productively on two apps at the same time.
Trackpad and Cursor
Another significant upcoming feature of iOS 9 is that the on-screen keyboard will soon do double-duty as a trackpad: tapping on the keyboard with two fingers will enable the user to move the cursor around to select and move text.
This will make editing documents and emails on the current iPad models easier, but it could also be a sign that Apple is adding mouse support to the iOS… especially as the iPad Pro is rumored to include a USB port.
In addition, iOS 9 includes greater support for external keyboards, so Apple is embracing the use of these accessories that are the preferred text-input method of businesspeople. This same group is accustomed to having a mouse next to their keyboard, and the iPad would attract new buyers if it included both of the most commonly used input methods.
iOS 9 and iPad Pro: Coming Soon
Apple will release iOS 9 this fall, and the iPad Pro is rumored to debut at about the same time. With its focus on businesspeople, it could well draw many additional customers to Apple’s ranks.
This company has already made moves to increase the uses of its tablets in the enterprise — that’s the whole goal of its deal with IBM. But there’s almost certainly been pushback from companies and individuals who expect more from the iPad, like split-screen multitasking and mouse support.
It’s important to note that even if Apple decided to forgo introducing a 12.9-inch tablet, the changes coming in iOS 9 will likely improve sales of the 9.7-inch models, as the new features will make these a better fit for business users. But the sales increase won’t be as large as it would be with a iPad Pro in the product line.