The iPad has been on a slow decline over the past few years, and Apple is very aware of this fact. But it’s not going to just sit back while one of its most successful products fades into obscurity. According to sources speaking with 9to5Mac, the Cupertino company is looking to make several improvements over the next year, culminating in two new 12-inch models. Looks like we’ll see an iPad Pro at some point after all.
9to5Mac says Apple is working on larger iPads currently code named “J98” and “J99,” essentially a larger version of the existing iPad Air 2—one will be Wi-Fi-only, and the other will be Wi-Fi + Cellular. No other major details about the hardware were revealed, though a lot of the focus on Apple’s part seems to be on software, which we could hear more about next month at WWDC.
The larger iPad will run iOS as you and I know it now, though it’ll sport a new feature allowing users to run apps side-by-side. This is a feature that has been talked about for a while now, and we actually expected Apple officially unveil it last year, though the company apparently needed more time to polish the software.
“Sources now say that Apple Plans to show off the side-by-side feature for iOS 9 using currently available iPad models,” 9to5Mac said. “The latest plans suggest that the split-screen mode will support 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views depending on the apps.”
The goal here is to make the iPad a more powerful machine for productivity. Samsung devices have had a multi-window feature for a long time, while Microsoft’s Surface lineup also boasts multi-window support. The iPad has always been a device for consuming media, though the new feature (and larger iPad) could put Apple’s slate into a different plane entirely.
Additionally, 9to5Mac says Apple is ready to introduce multi-user support, which is something the company hinted at all the way back in 2012, and is a feature already offered by Android.
9to5Mac notes that the software could get pushed back as Apple continues to add polish. There’s a chance these features will be held back until the larger iPad is introduced. As to when that’ll happen, nobody but Apple knows. We’ve been seeing supposed cases and renders of the larger iPad floating around, so hopefully Apple shares details soon.