Is Apple Readying A More Capable iPad?
Rumours of a larger iPad have been circulating for a while now, with most analysts of the opinion that the new iPad 12" will arrive later this year when Apple completes its annual refresh of the tablet line-up.
Given the problems with falling sales numbers it isn't surprising that Apple is looking to shake things up, and 9to5 Mac is reporting that the changes will extend beyond new hardware to add new functionality which brings the tablet closer to a PC in capability.
The first of these changes is the implementation of a very Windows 8 like multi-tasking capability, with users able to snap apps into one-third or two-third screen portions. This seems like very likely to happen given that code to support it has been found in current iOS releases. This feature is expected to arrive on the iPad Air as well as the iPad Pro when it gets released.
The other update expected will make the iPad more useful for families and some businesses: multi user. The iPad is late to the party hare as well, with Android having this capability for a while. Its a cornerstone of the Windows experience, so no surprises that Windows tablets have been able to do this since the year dot. Allowing a family to share an iPad makes for a more useful tool, although how the smaller capacity devices stand up to multiple sync profiles remains to be seen.
Will the changes be sufficient to halt the slide in sales of the iPad? I would expect they will, delivering some compelling new functionality that won't be available on older devices. It may also hasten the fall off in iPad Mini sales though, with competition from the iPhone 6+ and lack of support for some newer features making it more of a price-led purchase than ever.
The bigger question is whether the iPad's killer catalogue of apps offers enough to persuade those less tied to the Apple ecosystem to forego the better value of an Android tablet and the better utility of a Windows tablet.
In the short-term I'd say the answer would be yes. Longer term I expect Apple will introduce a MacBook-like hybrid or tablet format to better compete for a share of the shrinking tablet market.