The iPad Pro has been a rumored device of Apple for quite some time, and new information has emerged this week which gives us more clues about this tablet. The iPad Pro is expected to be released by Apple at some point in the foreseeable future, as it is predicted to offer a valuable update to the existing Apple tablet range. Although Apple updated this during 2014 with new versions of the iPad Air and iPad Mini, the iPad Pro is thought to be a particularly critical release for Apple.
iPad Pro to provide new product niche
With the iPhone 6 Plus proving to be an extremely popular phablet, the iPad range also appealing to people requiring a mobile computer, and the MacBook laptop series considered to be of almost desktop-quality, there is a gap in the Apple niche for a tablet such as the iPad Pro. The ethos behind this device is that it will offer professional-quality specifications and functionality, while delivering the sort of convenience already associated with the iPad range.
So specs linked with this top of the range tablet have included a 13-inch display, which could even feature 4K resolution, along with some extremely impressive camera and processor specifications. But it is an external element of the iPad Pro which has been of particular interest to many who are viewing the device as an extremely useful productivity tool.
Fans of Apple who utilize the iPad range for creativity probably find the concept of carrying out their work without the keyboard to be a particularly unattractive one. No-one with a serious amount of typing to complete wants to spend hours tapping on an amateurish, non-responsive keyboard. So there is pressure on Apple to include a work-oriented keyboard in the iPad Pro if it is to compete with existing devices such as Microsoft’s Surface.
To forego external keyboard
However, it it looks increasingly possible that Apple will exclude a physical keyboard from the iPad Pro when it is eventually released. Apple could instead decide to make its touchscreen technology a centerpiece of the device.
One of the key issues that Apple has to deal with when delivering typing on a touchscreen is that it isn’t easy to enable people to rest their fingers on a touchscreen as they would with a real keyboard. But with Apple having recently introduced its Force Touch technology in the Apple Watch, it is possible that this could solve the issue.
It is proposed that the pressure-sensing technology which debuted in the Apple smartwatch, 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro earlier this year could enable Apple to deliver an intuitive keyboard experience with a touchscreen. This would certainly be an exciting achievement for Apple, as it would enable it to deliver the functionality of a professional keyboard, while also retaining the sleek and attractive appearance of the iPad. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, as Apple has traditionally relied on outstanding design parameters for a good deal of its popularity.
With Force Touch able to translate various amounts of pressure into different actions, it certainly seems plausible that this technology could be utilized for keyboard-like functionality. Actually delivering something which is as intuitive as a mechanical keyboard could be extremely challenging for Apple, but the consumer electronics giant is always able to fall back on the fact that multiple software updates can be utilised as the hardware beds in.
iOS 9 backs up Force Touch keyboard
And supporting the notion that Apple may rely on Force Touch for keyboard functionality in the iPad Pro, developer Steve Troughton-Smith discovered a possible solution in Apple’s iOS 9 simulator last week. The expanding keyboard which was discovered by Troughton-Smith includes a dedicated row of numbers on the main screen, with a number of responding symbols. The layout is said to be identical to a real keyboard, and would seem to indicate that Apple is intending to enable users to utilize the touchscreen for typing when the iPad Pro is released.
It has been suggested in line with this rumor that even though the iPad Pro may include a pressure-sensitive surface and familiar keyboard layout, typing may still feel relatively cramped. However, the 13-inch screen size which has been linked with the iPad Pro could be motivated by this need to provide typing comfort.
For those that are unconvinced by this element of the iPad Pro, it is worth pointing out that external developers will unquestionably develop keyboards as well. There will be nothing stopping iPad Pro consumers from purchasing an external keyboard and utilizing this for typing, but clearly Apple is working on ensuring that no such features are required. What Apple is faced with is a conundrum of whether it wants the iPad Pro to be a high-spec tablet, or a professional-quality laptop beater.