Believe what you like about who makes the best smartphones; but in the world of tablets, Apple is king.
But Apple doesn’t rest on its laurels, and there’s an Apple Special Event next week. That means new hardware – and almost certainly a new iPad Pro. So what do we want it to include?
All-screen – and no notch
In 2017, the iPad Pro’s bezels were streamlined, becoming much thinner on the device’s longer sides. But we imagine – and hope – that the new device will ape the iPhone X, and become all-screen.
In fact, we want Apple to go further. The notch – while now aped throughout the smartphone industry – isn’t exactly pretty, and it would look very odd on an iPad. Our hope, then, is an all-screen iPad that really is all screen, bar a skimpy bezel.
If the bezel goes, so does the iPad’s chin. And if the chin goes, so does the Home button – and with it, Touch ID. But then, once you’ve experienced Face ID, Touch ID feels archaic and unnecessary.
So, yes, we’re fully expecting to be able to gurn at our iPad to confirm logins and payments when prompted. And then at other times as well, just for the fun of it, because we’re a bit strange like that.
Oh, and it needs to work in landscape, too – but then that feature’s apparently already lurking in the iOS 12.1 beta.
An A12 chip – or better
The chip in the new iPhones blows away the one from last year’s iPad Pro – and that one was no slouch. So we expect – at the very least – for Apple to shove an industry-leading A12 inside its new iPad.
But in the past Apple’s given its iPad chips the X-factor. Rumours regarding a possible A12X chip point at some serious GPU clout. Could we be about to see iPads that can drive external displays, giving you another reason to hurl your desktop and notebook Macs and PCs into the sea?
A revamped Pencil
OK, we’ll admit that we’re not desperate for a new Pencil. Apple’s accessory hasn’t been updated in three years, but still blows the competition out of the water. For artists and those who need precision input, it’s still the bee’s knees – if bees had minimal, shiny white knees. Or something.
Anyway, there are plenty of ways Apple could up its game here: more precision; wireless charging; even (horrors) a ‘button’ for invoking actions when working on your next digital masterpiece. If nothing else, should the final item on this list prove true (spoiler: it’s about USB-C), Apple will at least need to upgrade the thing to change how it connects to your iPad…
Smarter use of input devices
The iPad is a touchscreen device – Stuff hasn’t lost sight of that factoid. But it’s also more than that. Sure, the on-screen keyboard’s fine for tapping away into Notes, but you wouldn’t want to use it for banging out a novel. Hence: external keyboards.
But whereas Apple laughs at touchscreen PCs, arguing you shouldn’t have to reach to prod the display every five seconds, that’s precisely what it wants you to do with an iPad and keyboard combo.
Quite what the solution is, we don’t know. But Apple needs to think more about how you interact with the iPad’s screen when the device isn’t in your mitts and you’re using a traditional keyboard.
Stuff hasn’t exactly kept quiet about the thin tech brigade, and companies have dialled back this obsession a bit of late. (We of course will take full credit for this.) But with the iPad Pro – and especially the larger model – you do sometimes wish it had a bit less heft.
This may require some kind of revolutionary tech. We don’t, after all, want to compromise heavily on battery life to shave off a few grams. But if Apple can somehow magic into being an iPad Pro that makes feeble arms happier when using the thing for hours on end, we’ll not be able to throw our money at an Apple Store employee fast enough.
A headphone port
Yes, we know: courage. Only Apple’s courage in removing the headphone port from the iPhone has been a mix of good (the spot’s now used in part for a beefy speaker) and horribly irritating (when you end up accidentally carrying the wrong headphones).
On an iPhone, space is at a premium. It’s hard to make the same argument on a large tablet. And so although we at Stuff are resigned to losing the headphone port on Apple’s slate, we’d be very happy if that doesn’t happen. Doubly so, when you think how often the device is used for creative work and if you’re attached to wired cans.
And finally, one thing we’re not so sure about…
USB-C to replace Lightning
Apple has long stuck with a Lightning port to charge iOS devices and connect them to peripherals. Now, the rumour mill reckons the device will swap that out for USB-C.
In one sense, this is good, opening up the iPad to a broader ecosystem of products, and simplifying things for people who’ve gone all-in on USB-C elsewhere.
But given that the iPhones Apple just released have stuck with Lightning, USB-C only on the iPad Pro would make the iOS ecosystem as a whole feel a bit incoherent. Still, if this does happen, Stuff suspects there will be a dongle for that…