Apple could and should make a larger iPad Pro but it probably won't be 15 inches

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited November 14
We've just got redesigned iPads but Twitter wants more. Specifically, iPad owners' wish lists now include a 15-inch model. You can see why, you can wonder how, but AppleInsider talks about the unexpected issues beyond just making a bigger screen.

Mockup of an Apple Store larger iPad icon
Mockup of an Apple Store larger iPad icon


App developer Stephen Troughton-Smith has followed up last month's correct prediction of new tap detection on the Apple Pencil with more of a hope for a larger iPad Pro. He claims no inside knowledge, he claims no reason to suspect Apple is doing this, but he does claim that it would take the company little effort to make a 15-inch model based on how iOS 12 works now.

"It turns out that a near-15-inch screen is big enough for Safari on the iPad to be happy with two tabs side-by-side as well as another app," he wrote on Twitter. "It's very clear that you could go to near 15 inches without having to redesign iOS."

Mockup of a 15 inch iPad Pro by Stephen Troughton-Smith
Mockup of a 15-inch iPad Pro by Stephen Troughton-Smith


"Software-wise," he continues in the same thread, "everything basically just works already. As a product, I think this ticks all the 'should we do this?' boxes and moves into 'when should we do this?' instead."

Hold on...

That mocked-up image is showing a combination of two tabs in Safari on an iPad plus and a third app in Split View. That app is Photos and it's shown in its iPhone format. When you drag a second app up from the dock, you can choose to have it take up one half or one quarter of the iPad's screen.

If you choose to have the apps share half the screen each then the device attempts to show you them both in their full-size or at least full-ratio. Whereas if you drag an app up and make it a quarter space, the iPad instead displays it as if it were an iPhone app.

How iPad currently treats a second on-screen app
How iPad currently treats a second on-screen app


The app is longer on screen, it stretches further down, but the width is as if on an iPhone.

What Troughton-Smith argues is that with a larger screen you could have one app be in this iPhone-width and Safari taking up the rest of the display. He argues that if you do this, you can further use Safari's tabs to have two full web pages side by side.

Today you can have two Safari tabs open side by side or you can have another app in half- or quarter-split screen. You can't have both.

If you open up two tabs simultaneously in Safari then today they each automatically take up half of the screen. If you then drag another app up from the dock then Safari snaps back to showing one tab.

Interestingly, if you then later dismiss the second app and Safari automatically returns to its full-screen width, then it also automatically restores the two tabs.

Clearly better

No question, then: if a larger iPad would let you have two Safari tabs and an iPhone-sized other app open at the same time, that's got to be better. Especially as you could presumably still have a third app that you open up with Slide Over.

Only, there's just enough wishful thinking here to make it sound plausible before you start wondering about why Apple wouldn't be better making a 18-inch model like Dell did about half a decade ago, or a 27-inch one.

Bigger is definitely better in terms both of being able to work with more information on the screen. Yet, having two tabs open in Safari is hardly the same as having, say, Word, Excel and Safari open.

Two tabs is nice, but likely is not a revolutionary productivity boon. Especially not as although Troughton-Smith talks about Safari being happy showing two tabs side by side and doesn't consider that they aren't full tabs. Both in his mockup and on a real iPad Pro when you choose to open two Safari tabs, you see that the browser has changed what gets shown.

Here's Apple's own site as shown full screen on an iPad Pro 12.9-inch model and next to it is the same same screen as it currently appears when you split a tab. So that you can see the difference more clearly, we've removed the second of the two tabs.

Comparison of clarity and menus: Apple.com full screen on an iPad (left), squeezed into a second tab (right)
Comparison of clarity and menus: Apple.com full screen on an iPad (left), squeezed into a second tab (right)


The iPad's full-screen version of the site feels as close to being the same as one on a desktop Mac as possible. Whereas the two tabs version switches to the iPhone's navigation bar.

Nobody can realistically predict how Apple would implement split view and tabs on a larger iPad, but Troughton-Smith is arguing that he'd be happy with cut-down tabs in order to get this extra iPhone-sized app. If you're wishing for the ability to work more on your iPad, this seems half-hearted.

Just in case

There is a reason for taking a shot in the dark and saying Apple should make a 15-inch one and not, for instance, wishing for an 18-inch display like on the Dell XPS 18 we talked about before. And it's down to the size of the case.

The old iPad Pro 12.9-inch display was housed in a case that was itself 14.57 inches on the diagonal. If Apple had kept the old case size and increased the screen, the current large iPad Pro could indeed have had a larger display, but just not 15 inches.

Troughton-Smith argues that you could now get a 14.5-inch display into that and he's probably right. A true 15-inch iPad screen, measured diagonally, would also have to have more pixels in order for this to be of any use at all. When the old iPad Pro 9.7-inch model was replaced by the new 10.5-inch one, the screen real estate changed with it. What had been 1,536 x 2,048 pixels became 2,224 x 1,668.

The screen size chart that iOS developers work to
The screen size chart that iOS developers work to


Then, alongside this, there is the fact that all iPads ever made have a screen ratio of 4:3. That's the same as an old-style television picture and compares to 16:9 which is the best for viewing films and newer TV shows.

Apple sticks with 4:3 because it prefers that for apps and web-browsing. The company would most likely to stick with that for a larger iPad too.

Speaking of apps

If all a 15-inch model got us was a two-tab Safari and an iPhone-width second app, it would not be worth it to us -- or to developers.

Apple has famously been easier to design apps for because, in part, iOS doesn't have quite the array of different screen sizes and ratios of Android. Adding a larger iPad would require developers to redesign their apps to fit.

Many or most have just done this to accommodate the iPhone XS Max so it's not like it's a new or a difficult job, but it is another thing for developers to do. Eventually they may stop making apps fit nicely at all, or Apple will come up with some kind of fancy resolution-independent Metal routines.

Only

We would also like a larger iPad. We wouldn't go around mocking up screenshots, but we'd buy one if Apple went larger. We instantly felt the advantage when the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro came out and we could have two apps side by side.

More than size and convenience, it's also made the iPad even more immersive than before. When you're working, say, OmniFocus on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro display, you end up with both your hands on it and it feels like you're kneading bread. You're directly manipulating your work instead of just pointing at it.

Only, you know that this kind of experience comes from the fact that Apple spent a lot of time considering the size of the iPad Pro and it is either doing so now with a larger size, or already has and dismissed it out of hand. It wouldn't come from a Tim Cook shower thought of just slapping on a screen that's vaguely between 14.5, nearly 15, and 15 inches wide because Apple can.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    MOUSE SUPPORT!  What do we need to do to convince Apple that if the iPad supported a mouse, we would use it as our daily driver?  (as I type this on my MacBook Pro:) 
    GeorgeBMacvukasikairelandtechprod1gySpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 64
    chasmchasm Posts: 993member
    Dream on, Rreichel002. Na ga ha pen.
    redgeminipaSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 64
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,637member
    To keep an iPad a “pad” it needs to be sized in such a way that a person with normal arms  can easily access the entire screen without elbow interference.   By the time you get to 16” this would become a problem. 

    Back in the day I took drafting in high school.  Yes paper, pencil and drafting machine.   If you tried to do reallylarge drawings it’s it was actually fantastic iquing to keep your elbow off the nice paper.  That tech is almost gone these days but the elbow problem is still with us.  As a side note iPads can be really great in the field to view technical drawings.  

    Perhaps the greatest advantage such a machine would would have is battery capacity.  You could pack it right up to FAA limits easily.  The housing would need to be thicker to maintain stiffness so plenty of space.  
    vukasika
  • Reply 4 of 64
    "What about a new iPad Mini? The current Mini 4 has a X8 inside and has not been really updated since the Mini 3 which has the same A8 inside. Talking 2014!
    GeorgeBMacirelandleftoverbacon
  • Reply 5 of 64
    I think the 12.9 should stay the max for portability. As far as usability, make the iPad Pros more powerful and faster enough to run desktop MacOS apps...Logic Pro X for example.
    edited November 14
  • Reply 6 of 64
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    He thinks he can get around the limitations of iOS by using bigger hardware. But iOS is fine on a small device like a phone, it's only on larger devices like the iPad that the limitations become apparent in the first place, and a bigger device will only make them more apparent still (opposite of what he intends).
  • Reply 7 of 64
    Who cares if Apple made a 15, 16 or 18" iPad Pro, since no one could afford one!  "Our LARGEST iPad Pro EVER!  1TB version starts at $2499."
    edited November 14 GeorgeBMacwilliamlondonirelandfasterquieterlarz2112
  • Reply 8 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,774member

    John King is wondering about a 70" for election nights ...  
    edited November 14 vukasikatechprod1gyfastasleep
  • Reply 9 of 64
    MOUSE SUPPORT!  What do we need to do to convince Apple that if the iPad supported a mouse, we would use it as our daily driver?  (as I type this on my MacBook Pro:) 

    Yawn...   Yep!   More of the same...

    Apple needs to start broadening out their product lines.  Too many users will not bend their functional needs to fit a very narrow product line from Apple.

    The iPad is a tablet.   Period.   The only choice is (essentially) size.
    The MacBook line has multiple models, but they need a "Pepsi challenge" to tell them apart.

    iPads need the ability to use a cursor.  That will open up entirely new vistas to them and allow them to fulfill their promise as a laptop killer.
    MacBooks need a broader functional range than simply a glued together thin & light slab with minor, mostly technical variations between models.

  • Reply 10 of 64
    Bigger is far heavier, and the 12.9" is already cumbersome -- not so much the weight but the torques.

    More likely than this scenario is drastically going the other direction -- VR/AR glasses/camera. At this point, they can make the virtual screen as large as desired -- and no problem with elbows. And the device form factor can be designed for "headless" use. 


    edited November 14
  • Reply 11 of 64
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,606member
    It would be pretty cool if Apple were to enter the smart display market with an iOS powered giant screen, ala the Surface Hub.

    Wishful thinking though, not mass market enough for Apple.
  • Reply 12 of 64
    irelandireland Posts: 17,470member
    MOUSE SUPPORT!  What do we need to do to convince Apple that if the iPad supported a mouse, we would use it as our daily driver?  (as I type this on my MacBook Pro:) 

    Yawn...   Yep!   More of the same...

    Apple needs to start broadening out their product lines.  Too many users will not bend their functional needs to fit a very narrow product line from Apple.

    The iPad is a tablet.   Period. 
    Disagree. With these new keyboards Apple is trying to bridge a gap. A trackpad mode would make the iPad much better for text editing in keyboard orientation.
    edited November 14
  • Reply 13 of 64
    neilmneilm Posts: 548member
    A 12.9" iPad is already pretty big for carrying around. A 15" iPad would be the product equivalent of the old 17" laptop, making a very small number of users happy without generating much in the way of sales.

    Neil
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 64
    MOUSE SUPPORT!  What do we need to do to convince Apple that if the iPad supported a mouse, we would use it as our daily driver?  (as I type this on my MacBook Pro:) 
    The Mac is for you then. People have learned to live without mouse for over 8 years with help of the iPad. The slowing laptop sells don’t seem to indicate people love trackpads & mice very much.
    redgeminipaRayz2016StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 64
    ireland said:
    MOUSE SUPPORT!  What do we need to do to convince Apple that if the iPad supported a mouse, we would use it as our daily driver?  (as I type this on my MacBook Pro:) 

    Yawn...   Yep!   More of the same...

    Apple needs to start broadening out their product lines.  Too many users will not bend their functional needs to fit a very narrow product line from Apple.

    The iPad is a tablet.   Period. 
    Disagree. With these new keyboards Apple is trying to bridge a gap. A trackpad mode would make the iPad much better for text editing in keyboard orientation.
    A trackpad mode as you say I think would be perfect. When you touch the trackpad a "blurred" area representing the location on the trackpad representing the same location on the screen would appear in the display. The interface would remain "touch" but you'd use the trackpad to "touch" the screen and move your finger around. All the rest of the interface paradigms could remain the same, but you've got a cursor, so to speak, and I think that'd be a great version to put in a clamshell and they could call it an iBook. 
  • Reply 16 of 64
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,516member
    To those who want a cursor and mouse on the iPad, you already have such a device available. It’s called the MacBook Air.
    MacProStrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 64
    27” iPad/iMac Pro. Dock it to use as a desktop/MacOS. Take it with you/iOS. Obviously 27” is overkill but even the new 12.9” can support display output. Have it boot MacOS so you can dock it and have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Take it with you so you can use it as a tablet. they would have to build both OS’ to be able to access the same files on device or just use iCloud for that(which they already do). 

    They have been pretty adamant about not combining the two OS’. Just dual boot them on the same device. Obviously we are creeping into laptop territory with storage, as well as price, on the iPad. This is very possible with the USB C connector now.

    just imagine the day that they announce the end of MacBook Pro! As history has told us, anything is possible. 
    edited November 14
  • Reply 18 of 64
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,774member
    lkrupp said:
    To those who want a cursor and mouse on the iPad, you already have such a device available. It’s called the MacBook Air.
    Right!  That or one of those hugely successful Microsoft Surface thingies ... /s
    edited November 14 redgeminipaStrangeDayswilliamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 64
    a 15" iPad would be plenty portable still. Somehow in the software or I even thought app specific to add mouse support. I like the idea of APP specific so they do not have to compromise on the great OS as is. This would be important when I dock in office to use Spreadsheets specifically on large monitor. Most apps I am fine with touch. Seems like wireless mouse support and making it APP specific would work.
  • Reply 20 of 64
    I don't think iOS require mouse or some sort of pointer support.
    Apple should implement new OSX to touch. OSX is getting old.
    They need shift to new area that Windows already there long ago.

    It is time to Apple introduce new touch OS11.
    This will be separate from iOS to OS11 and iPad can be increase screen size. 13-15 inch.

    The OS11 should have 2 version. 1 for full blown for Mac Pro, Macbook pro, etc.. Other for some what strip down to core function for iPad pro.(I would say IPad MAX means maximum functionality.)
    OS11 strip down version still you can install desktop application or iPad app.

    New bigger iPad should start with 6-8GB RAM, 256GB SSD up to 2TB. And microSD card for data and copy photo from DSLR.
    This platform will be true test for Ax to intel CPU. If A13 or higher can take on Intel's i3 and i5 then Apple will introduce Macbook 12' and Air 13; will be replace from Intel by year 2021 or 2022.
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