Hopes For The 2017 iPad Pro 2 and Beyond

If rumors are to be believed, we are nearing an Apple special event: 2017 iPad upgrades along with a few other goodies. I am a fan of the iPad. I have an iPhone 6s Plus, a MacBook Pro, assorted Apple peripherals and both the iPad Pro 12.9" and 9.7". Over the past month I have read multiple tech articles espousing what others would like to see in the new iPad Pro. I decided that I would write this article expressing what I would like in this years iPad lineup as well as what my dream iPad would possess. I will start with hardware and conclude with the software.

Hardware

According to rumors there will be a new 10.5" iPad Pro with way less bezels replacing the the 9.7" iPad Pro. This new iPad Pro will have the same physical dimensions as the previous iPad but with a larger nearly edge-to-edge display. This is a good addition/replacement in the lineup. There have also been a wide range of rumors as regards the 7.9" iPad mini — everything from the end of the iPad mini to its continuation but as part of the iPad Pro line. I hope that the later is the case. Thus, hopefully, this year we will have a unified iPad Pro lineup inclusive of all three form factors — 7.9", 10.5" and 12.9" — along with a slightly upgraded 9.7" iPad as the lower end iPad (and I am going to proceed as if these will be the new lineup, with my focus on the Pro line).

As part of this unified iPad trio, it is expected that all Pro models will be upgraded to include the DCI-P3 wide gamut color and True Tone color matching (thus far this has only been a part of the 2016 9.7" iPad Pro). All three should possess at least 4GB of RAM. There may be an option for a 6GB upgrade (for which my fingers are tightly crossed). Rumors seem to indicate that all three will possess the 12MP, 4K, Live Photos camera. I would love to see the dual camera added to the lineup, but I don’t think it will be included this year (hopefully next year!). I am also hoping that the FaceTime camera will be upgraded to 8MP (though rumors suggest it will be 5MP). Storage for all three will probably be 64GB, 128GB or 256GB options. Ideally though, the options should be 128GB, 256GB or 512GB as this would be more conducive for the “Pro” moniker and ease of working with 4K video footage. Of course, all three should be powered by a new A10X Fusion processor (this is probably the easiest addition of all to predict). The leaked benchmark tests from October 2016 reveal the A10X scored a 4236 in single-core tests and 6588 in multi-core tests on Geekbench. (The previous A10 scored 3490/5580.) I have also seen some rumors that a new Blue anodized color option will be revealed — though I would wager on the Black matte being added — whatever color is added, just make it in combination with black bezels (I despise the white bezels). It should go without saying that support for Apple Pencil and a Smart Keyboard on all three devices is an obvious must! Oh, and I have seen a couple predictions of the addition of a MacBook Pro-style ‘Touch Bar’ feature which would be quite interesting, if for no other reason than to see how it would be implemented. All of the above are, I believe, both possible and probable this year.

Now we jump to my wish list: I would love to see 3D Touch integration finally brought to the iPad. This would allow much more flexibility for specialized “Pro” apps for the iPad. Trackpad support would be a great addition, though it’s probably a wished-for option at this juncture.

Both iPad support accessories should each have one new addition: The Apple Pencil should be designed with an eraser! And the Smart Keyboard should have an integrated touchpad. Fingers are crossed for the above as we’ve not heard anything about those additions. We have heard that the Pencil will possess a new magnetic strip so it can be attached to the iPad and also double as a charging dock for the Pencil by attaching to the Smart Connector.

My ideal, dream iPad Pro would arrive with the following: I’ll start by saying once again, go for it and give us the dual lens setup like the iPhone 7 Plus. I think we will get this, just not this year. Ideally the iPad would come with a second FaceTime camera for landscape work. If I were Apple I would go ahead and make all iPads USB-C. They’ve done it with the MacBooks, so go ahead and get it over and done. And with the USB-C please, give us the ability to plug and play an external USB drive. Also, if I can shoot and edit 4K video, then unleash a complimentary 4K display with an option for 8GB of RAM! And last but not least, include a PowerVR GPU that supports ray tracing.

Creating an iPad with the above Pro hardware will immediately cause developers to dive into some serious pro apps for the iPad. While I know few of the above “Dream” specs will be included this year, I don’t think it’s out of the question to see most of them added in the next upgrade.

Finally, according to many Apple patent filings and analyst Gene Munster, Apple is working on a foldable iPad. Packing all of the above stated goodies into the form factor of a foldable iPad would fulfill the techie-Westworld envy in me. Apple is obviously working on this concept, but I don’t believe we will see it until 2019.

And before I move to software, I have one hardware accessory I’d like to throw out for consideration. It will probably never be done by Apple, but I wish they would seriously consider this. Apple’s new W1 chip is some serious magic assisting Bluetooth connectivity with Apple’s AirPods and Beats headphones. Consider this: a 256GB Thumb Drive, with both USB-C connector and Bluetooth wireless connectivity assisted by the W1 chip for solid connection. A small beautiful Apple designed Thumb Drive that can be carried on your keychain. This would sell like crazy, just like the AirPods. And I’d love to have one, or two or many! Just saying…

And now we go to….

Software

Software is much more of a guessing game at this point as iOS 11 won’t be unveiled in any way until WWDC in June. Thus, I present my wish list for all things software related.

First on everyone’s iOS software wish list is an universal file system throughout the OS. I believe this is on the way. Apple currently has their new file system in beta. I think this is the first step towards creating a file system network in iOS. With the soon to be released iOS 10.3 Apple will introduce this new file system, called Apple File System (APFS) that completely replaces their 20+year old file system that iOS and Mac OS currently use, known as HFS+. Once this new file system is introduced I think Apple will move to optimize iCloud Drive to serve as a true file system throughout iOS. Hopefully this will arrive with iOS 11.

Once this new file system is implemented and iCloud Drive is optimized the next step will be Apple’s own solution to connect your iPad via wifi or LTE to your sleeping home Mac and access anything on that Mac and by extension any connected external hard drives. This connectivity is big on my wish list! (I know there are apps to do this, I currently use iTeleport. But if Apple did it I would feel a little more comfortable about the security of my network and believe it would be a more seamless experience.)

Improvements to the current iOS begin with adding “drag and drop” between two open windows. I would be surprised if this isn’t included this year. Also, a better way to search for apps in the slide to view window/multitasking app picker. I’m not sure what that solution is, but they should be able to create something that’s a little more efficient than the current “scrolling through everything”. I’ve heard several people asking for activation of the “Hey Siri” option. It’s not high on my list but if Apple did this they would have to find a way to sync things so that your iPhone doesn’t also activate (though I think this would be a can of worms and is probably why they haven’t added it to iPad yet.)

I have just a few app specific desires: First, go ahead and add the Health app. It would be nice to be able to open it and create workout plans by reviewing recent activity. I’m sure I’m not the only person with less than perfect vision, and this kind of work would be more enjoyable on the iPad vs the iPhone. Next, the Notes app needs to have handwriting and math recognition so that pencil writing can be converted to text. I’ve seen this request on quite a few other wish lists and I do agree this should be done with this years update. The Notes app should also be unified with the MacOS Notes app allowing the creation of sub folders. And iBooks! Please show a little more love for iBooks. Please add the “Wish List” option, just like in iTunes. And please, please give options for organizing ones iBooks collection. I know I may be one of the few people with a large collection of books (5000+), but this collection is made up of Google imports, web-downloads, magazines, PDF’s and purchased iBooks and I would like a way to keep everything in alphabetical order by title and/or by author in a nice visual way similar to iTunes in Album mode display (with a similar way to add or adjust meta-data in the “Show Info” window).

Now we come to a few things that I would love to see added, but I have not read nor heard anything about these ideas on anyone else’s wish lists. These are things that I would love to be able to do — and I think you would too.

A few additional customization options begins my list. First, I would love to be able to “officially” slide folders into folders. I have a lot of photography and video apps and have them arranged into specific folders. I’d love to be able to create a master photography or video folder and slide all sub folders into a master folder. It would also be nice to further customize my device by allowing a different wallpaper for each page on my iPad. This would help with quick recognition of which page I am on. And finally, the one desire least likely any time soon — allow for customization of the size of apps display. It’s not a big must, but would be nice. Or if not that, at least allow the option to have a grid of 5x6 icons along with a seventh icon in the Dock.

Of course, anything Apple can do to create iPad specific features within iOS will only help differentiate the iPad and accent its form capabilities and thus boost sales. Apple has done a great job with iPad specific software like GarageBand, iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. However, Apple needs to unleash their own creativity to show the iPads true potential. Enhance every app they currently make utilizing iPads full capabilities and show developers what can be done with the iPad. With that focus in mind, consider this: Many artists and photographers have a Wacom pad which they use for more professionally detailed work in Photoshop and Lightroom with their desktops. Apple should create their own app that turns the iPad into this type of device and connects seamlessly — both USB and Bluetooth connectivity — to your Mac desktop or laptop. This would allow for further iPad specific use and fully utilize both iPad and Apple Pencil potential.

And to stay up-to-date, there is this breaking news: the iPad Pro 2 will apparently come with iOS 10.3 installed at launch, and this update appears to add a one-handed floating keyboard layout which can be moved around the screen — which looks like it could be convenient and kind of cool.

The great American writer Tennessee Williams once wrote an essay where he talked about his approach to writing plays. He said that plays are composed of characters who have desires which intersect with other characters desires. These desires create the plot. And the plot is directed by what is both possible and probable. Some things are possible, but just not probable. Some probable, but not possible. And I can think of no better mental experiment when considering the iPad and Apple. What is technically possible must be harmonized with what is probable within Apple’s long-term strategy. And what is technically possible must first past the hurtle of additional cost. What can be added technically in such a scale that the price-per-unit remains stable? That’s the game: What’s possible? What’s probable? And where do they meet? For that answer we shall see soon enough!

Well, that’s it for me. I’d love to hear other great ideas from everyone, even those that begin with, “I can’t believe you didn’t include…” . Please share your opinions!

…Bacchus Stuart