Last year the sole change in the iPad lineup was the launch of a 9.7-inch “Pro” version. Apple’s tablet was more or less ignored after that, as sales continued to drop. While iOS 10 added a few tricks to advance iPad multitasking, being productive with multiple apps and documents is still not near as flexible as on a Mac or a PC.
It’s quite possible that the lack of attention to the hardware conveyed the message that Apple didn’t care so much about the iPad. It appeared to be languishing for the most part, and customers responded appropriately, so sales languished. This may also be a reason why sales of new Macs flagged until the last quarter, when the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar arrived.
Over recent weeks, the usual Apple supply chain leaks, and comments from industry analysts, are pointing to across-the-board refreshes and perhaps even an all-new iPad. So there will be an update for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and perhaps a refresh for the 9.7-inch model that was introduced last year. The larger iPad could gain the display enhancements of its smaller counterpart, such as True Tone.
There’s also talk of an all-new form factor, with a 10.5-inch display fitted into a case little different from the 9.7-inch model. It’ll benefit from an edge-to-edge display.
Other improvements are said to include an A10x Fusion processor and perhaps better cameras. There may even be an update to the 7.9-inch iPad mini. Maybe. A report from a mobile marketing firm apparently reveals the online presence of new models, referred to as “iPad 7,1,”plus variations that include “7,2,” “7,3,” and “7.4.”
While it’s not certain which models they refer to, it would appear to include two, each with and without cellular capability. So maybe it’s just the 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch versions. Perhaps the original 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be left untouched and sold at a lower price.
Whatever Apple does, it could come within another week or two. When there’s an all-new model, however, one expects a media event of some sort, and that may happen, but it’s too late for next week. So perhaps it’ll come as early as March 27th or 28th, or the first part of April. Maybe.
There were earlier reports that such an event might include new Product Red versions of iPhones, plus a variation of the iPhone SE with 128GB storage, but no other changes in the internal workings. But I fail to see why such minor changes would require more than a press release or two.
Now I feel a little more optimistic about the iPad, because of Apple’s new promotional campaign. That may be designed to whet your appetite for the new models, or just move existing product, although there have been reports of constrained supplies that might herald product refreshes.
I just wonder whether a 10.5-inch iPad (Pro?), even if it comes in a case with a similar size and weight compared to the smaller iPad Pro, would be enough to fuel sales. Does it really make that much of a difference to anyone? Maybe for people with older iPads who might be tempted to upgrade, but if it doesn’t do anything different, why bother?
Maybe that’s just me, because I’m an iPad skeptic. While it does meet the needs of lots of people, it doesn’t suit me at all. I can get by with a regular iPhone plus a couple of Macs to do the heavy lifting. Little of that heavy lifting would work on an iPad, at least not until Apple makes major alterations in the kinds of software allowed on iOS. A more flexible multitasking and file management scheme would also help a lot, but I’m not suggesting that an iPad become more Mac-like. I’d like to think that Apple’s iOS developers are clever enough to figure out innovative ways to stretch the envelope.
To me, today’s iPad is little more than a grown up iPod touch. Apple continues to take poor advantage of the larger display beyond the logical expansions of screen real estate. Apple wants us to assume that the “iPad Pro isn’t even close to being a computer,” when it actually is. It’s just a different kind of PC, but why should I quibble with Apple’s marketing plans?
Meanwhile, if Apple is really and truly overhauling the iPad lineup, or at least refreshing it in the usual ways — plus that unconfirmed new model — what about the Mac? Isn’t it about time for a spring Mac refresh too? Last year, the first Mac update was a revised version of the MacBook. Is that all that’s meant to be, or will Apple deliver new iMacs and perhaps revisions to the Mac Pro and maybe the Mac mini?
Is it possible there will be a combined media event, in which both of Apple’s PC lines are refreshed? This would mean the iPad and the Mac, though the latter might come at the end of the event assuming product changes are relatively minor.
But while the online chatter speaks of new iPad models discovered in web metrics, nothing’s been said about new Macs in the pipeline. At least not yet.