The virtues of the iPad as a professional work tool were given a welcome boost last year when Apple revealed the 12.9in iPad Pro with a stylus and keyboard. Well, now, a 9.7in iPad Pro is on the way with a compatible stylus and keyboard, and it all makes perfect sense.
Apple is making a big play for the enterprise and productivity space traditionally dominated by Microsoft. Two years ago, Apple forged an alliance with IBM that will see Big Blue put Apple hardware like iPhones, iPads and Mac computers front of mind in terms of app development and how its own workers engage with technology.
Up until recently, the iPad was pretty much confined to the capability of touch and apps. But with the launch of the 12.9in iPad Pro last year with nice additions like the Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard and neat features like split screen mode for running apps simultaneously, things certainly upped a gear.
The 12.9in iPad Pro was big, bold and beautiful and could certainly give Microsoft’s Surface Pro a run for its money, and so it is only logical that Apple extends the same capabilities to its stalwart 9.7in form factor that has been a mainstay since the iPad launched in 2010.
The finest work tool
While the iPad Pro was on a whole new scale for Apple – in landscape mode it is the equivalent of two iPad mini devices in portrait position, making it brilliant for designers and creators – there are still users who want the same firepower, albeit in the 9.7in form they know best.
Choice is good, and people who opt to choose an iPad as a work tool want firepower but also flexibility and a familiar feel. It will no doubt mean new peripherals like a compatible Smart Keyboard that clicks magnetically to the tablet.
This means an iPad Pro with the same A9X processor, RAM upgrades and powerful new brightness and colour features thanks to new oxide TFT materials.
Reports that Apple will be revealing a 9.7in version on 15 March are a logical next step and echo the same strategy Apple has with its Pro versions of the MacBook, which come in 13in and 15in sizes.
On 15 March, Apple is set to reveal a range of new devices that extend on existing strategies. For example, it is tipped to reveal a new 4in iPhone 5se with an A9 processor and Apple Pay, Apple Watch 2 and new Apple Watch band options.
There are also reports that Apple may not be revealing an iPad mini 3 and may discontinue its iPad Air line.
But as usual, only Apple really knows.
iPad Pro image via Shutterstock