The iPad Pro is Apple's effort to build a tablet for the enterprise, but it would be a better business tool with these features.
The iPad Pro was initially launched in 2015 as an iPad model for power users—professionals who need to get real work done. Much of the early marketing was geared toward creatives, but the device has been adopted across a host of industries as a productivity tool.
Apple's special event on September 12 saw the launch of a new iPhones with the iPhone XS line, and Apple will likely reveal a new iPad Pro at an event in October alongside a new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini. No new features or capabilities have been announced or leaked, but the latest iPad is expected to follow the new mobile standards for Apple with an OLED display, no bezels, and the larger screen size.
There are also a few ways the iPad Pro could be updated to better suit the needs of business users. Here are eight things pros need in the new iPad Pro models.
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1. Multi-user support
Tablets in the workplace thrive as multi-user devices, but the iPad was primarily created as a single-user experience. Apple introduced the Shared iPad feature for education users a few years ago, but it remains restricted to that ecosystem. A new iPad Pro would benefit greatly from true multi-user support, as the devices could then be deployed as part of an enterprise device fleet, or used for both work and personal computing.
2. Easier peripheral use
One of the big draws of the iPad is convertibility, but that isn't always easy. Ken Kocienda, the author of Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs and a former principal engineer of iPhone software at Apple, said that the device simply needs more ports.
"The single lightning port on the iPad makes it more complicated for pro users to attach peripherals, and those pro users who try probably carry a bag of dongles," Kocienda said. "Bluetooth connectivity could help, but a pro user would probably be better off with more ports."
SEE: iPad Pro 2018: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
Raul Castanon-Martinez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, said that the bigger question is how Apple will think about the broad implications of the iPad form factor. In addressing specific verticals, Castanon-Martinez said that "Apple can further expand on these efforts by extending the capabilities of their new devices with features that take advantage of their improved performance. The question is how far Apple will go to compromise on their design and specifications given that Samsung is using USB connectors."
Of course, this also begs the question of whether or not future iPads will have a headphone jack. Regardless of the 3.5mm port in question, other rumors have been circulating about improved pencil support and integration with a smart keyboard of sorts.
3. Facial recognition
To keep up with the iPhone X, Apple should bring facial recognition through Face ID to the new iPad models. Not only does it provide a new method for authentication, improving security, but it also could open up new app functionalities and video conference features. Also, as noted by Boy Genius Report (BGR), Apple could also bring support for multiple faces to Face ID, which would benefit iPads used as part of an office fleet.
"This helps ease strain for employees logging into the device, particularly if their business requires them to install mobile device management (MDM) on the device," said Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt.
Currently, Face ID isn't supported on the standard iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, or the current iPad Pro.
4. Better battery
A better battery means more work can get done before charging, but it also opens up new app and productivity options. According to Hewitt, this could also help the iPad support more frequent use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.
5. More multitasking options/modes
One the most needed iPad Pro features is multitasking support, Kocienda said, to help users who work in multiple apps to create content. Additionally, Kocienda noted, the iPad could benefit from a separate work mode similar to a Mac desktop.
"Perhaps the iPad user interface to offer a pro user a 'desktop' user interface mode that more closely mimics a Mac," Kocienda said. "As UIKit becomes an app platform for the Mac, it could become possible for an iPad Pro to run the "Mac" version of an app while hooked up to an external keyboard and (gasp!) a mouse, and then revert to "iOS" mode while on the go."
Additional modes for multitasking, such as additional split screen methods in landscape or portrait mode, could also help it compete with the Microsoft Surface and other pro tablets.
6. Water resistance
Apple has made some of its phones water resistant, but not its iPads. Many tablets are used in the field and, as such, need additional environmental protections to remain in good working order for professionals.
7. Native software development
Kocienda said that he believes the iPad needs more professionals apps and tools geared toward content creators—specifically developers. "As a programmer, I think it would be great to be able to use an iPad Pro as a software development device," Kocienda said. "Xcode for iPad Pro please!"
8. Wireless charging
Wireless charging is easier and requires fewer adapters and plugs to keep up with. "This is a huge paint point for consumers and employees alike. Apple has hinted at compatibility here," Hewitt said.
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