We have been seeing rumours of a new 12” iPad “Pro” for a while now. Everyone is excited about a “Pro” iPad but few are actually considering the caveats of the bigger device. Some people are saying it will be a convertible (a tablet that pops into a laptop dock), some people think it will require a stand, and no one is really mentioning the weight. As someone who has used their iPad a lot in a stand, in a keyboard case, and stand alone I thought I’d shed some light on the downsides of the rumoured device.
The 12” iPad
The 12” iPad might make sense if it weighs 1.5lbs, it runs iOS and the only software addition is multiple apps on screen at once. Bigger screens are nice and it would give customers another form factor for those who want it. They call it the iPad+ and you have a neatly expanded product line. The device wouldn’t be right for me but it may be right for others. It’s not innovative but it possibly fills a need with some people. That being said there are some huge stumbling points that I hope Apple can overcome. Namely the weight and what it’s designed for.
The 12” Blessing And Curse
Every added inch makes the device less portable. One of the best things about the iPad is the ability to toss it in a bag and forget about it. When you start to increase the screen size you are reducing how portable a device feels to the user. The 12” is on par with a Macbook Air and that may be an issue. I have seen quite a few stories online from people who love their iPad because it allows them to keep their Mac at home. I am one of those people and owning a 12” iPad would just mean I take it out of the house less.
Anything over 1.5lbs is too heavy. Every bit of extra weight makes it a worse tablet. I’ve spent a lot of hours holding up an iPad 3, which weighs 1.5lbs, and it gets heavy quickly. The iPad is noticeably heavier than my new iPad Air and I hesitate to say that even 1.5lbs is viable. A tablet should be light enough to hold for long periods of time.
Using It With A Stand/External Keyboard
Some of the rumours have said that Apple will pitch it with a stand. They angle the announcement to say that you can finally ditch your PC the post PC world has arrived. Users can put into a stand with an external keyboard and then use as a stand alone tablet whenever they want. This would be a huge mistake. I have spent significant time with an iPad on a stand with an external keyboard and I can tell you it is not a good experience if you’re touching the screen a lot. You have to constantly reach up and touch the screen to do anything which quickly results in sore arms. I would be truly disheartened to see them do this. For those who are thinking, “Well Windows computers have touch screens.” This is true and while I am not particularly a fan of the idea there is a difference: they have a trackpad/mouse as well.
I will also be disappointed if they use the Pro moniker and don’t do anything with the software. Frankly there is nothing “Pro” about iOS and adding the ability to use 2 apps at once won’t change that. There are just too many caveats to a person who wants to use an iPad as a laptop replacement for anything more than the most basic tasks. It’s not that the apps are subpar, the 3rd party developers have created some amazing things, it’s the OS itself that hinders the user. Resulting in the question being, “Do I really want to do this on my iPad?” rather than, “Can I do this on my iPad.” I wrote all about it here so I won’t go into this further.
“It’s A Convertible”
The rumours that the device will be a convertible, a tablet that connects to a keyboard to be like a laptop, are really dumb. While I am sure Apple would like to say, “We finally got convertibles right.” It won’t be with a device running iOS in its current form. Convertibles work because the user can use the mouse/trackpad but still reach up touch if they want. iOS doesn’t support a trackpad so it will just make for a lot of sore, tired muscles. If they add trackpad/mouse support then why not just use a Mac?
“It’s For Business”
Is another common phrase used when talking about the iPad Pro. It may be more acceptable to have heavy equipment given to you by your office IT team but I still question who really needs a bigger iPad when the Macbook Air is available. Once again the iPad is great because of its portability.
The Creative Market
You can create amazing art on a current iPads but there are many better devices better suited to the task. This is because the iPad doesn’t have a digitizer. (A digitizer allows a stylus to tell how hard you are pressing so it can inform the software how thick to make the line/how dark the line should be. More like a regular paintbrush/canvas.) If Apple included a digitizer in the iPad Pro I could definitely see it becoming a favourite with artists. It is a niche market though.
I desperately want the iPad to succeed. A 12” iPad may help with that but it really comes down to the software for me. Will Apple not only optimize iOS for the larger screen but make concrete improvements for the average user? I have said it before and I will say it again, “If Apple truly wants the iPad to be the device of the future it needs to be able to do every task a basic user needs.” If Apple does release it I think they need to be careful how they pitch it. (I am still not convinced it will be released anytime soon.)