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The line between the iPad and the MacBook could get even more blurred over the next few years, with a new report that Apple is working on building iPad Pro models in screen sizes that will rival its current MacBook lineup.
When Apple released the 12.9-inch iPad Pro six years ago, it was already one of the largest tablet screens available. It’s continued to be a popular enough model over the years that not only has it remained firmly entrenched in the iPad Pro family, but it also became the first Apple device to gain Mini-LED screen technology — even ahead of the MacBook Pro.
While the 12.9-inch iPad Pro screen comes in just shy of the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, the fact that it’s a touchscreen, combined with the nature of iPadOS, can sometimes make working on even the largest iPad Pro a bit cramped.
It seems Apple understands this, since according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the company’s engineers and designers are already exploring the idea of making even larger iPad models.
Although Gurman’s sources haven’t offered any specifics, he expects these could be in the 14-inch to 16-inch range, rivalling current MacBook Pro displays.
Blurring the Lines
While many Apple fans have been hoping to see the company produce a touchscreen MacBook, this latest report should put that idea to rest once and for all.
Apple’s executives have already gone on the record to say that they still think there’s a big difference between a MacBook and an iPad, downplaying rumours that the redesign in Big Sur was paving the way for a touchscreen.
Still, while it appears that Apple wants the two product families to stay firmly on opposite sides of the line, that doesn’t mean that it’s not ready to blur that line somewhat.
After all, the recent addition of Apple’s M1 chip to the 2021 iPad Pro wasn’t just about putting a more powerful SoC into its high-end tablets — it could have just as easily done that with an “A14X” chip. Instead, it was Apple making it apparent that it now considers the iPad Pro to be in the same class as the Mac.
It seems the next logical step to doing that is to produce even larger iPad Pro models, which is something that many, including Gurman, would welcome.
It’s time for a giant screen, one in the 14-inch to 16-inch range. I love the speed, touchscreen, versatility and Magic Keyboard, but the 12.9-inch display is far too small for someone accustomed to a 16-inch MacBook Pro.Mark Gurman
Of course, as much as Apple is trying to position the iPad Pro as a MacBook replacement, there’s still a lot that will need to be done on the software side before it can reach its full potential.
For one thing, the iPad still lacks true “pro” apps. We’ve been hearing rumours since last spring that Apple is working on iPad versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. With the recent debut of the M1 iPad Pro, WWDC would have been a perfect time to announce this, but sadly, we heard nothing about it at all.
Then there’s iPadOS 15, which appears to be an evolutionary upgrade, rather than the revolutionary one that many were hoping for. To be clear, progress is being made, and there are some nice changes in iPadOS 15. For instance, Gurman notes that he likes the multitasking improvements in the beta so far, and we’d agree, but it still pales in comparison to the level of power offered by macOS.
It’s time for Apple to rip off the Band-Aid and go all in on the iPad.Mark Gurman
Further, while it’s easier to manage split-screen apps in iPadOS 15, you’re still limited to only two at a time, with limited resizing options. That’s a far cry from the Mac, where you can have a half-dozen or more fully resizable and movable windows. While one could argue that perhaps that’s not as practical on a 12.9-inch screen, it’s something that the company will pretty much have to address if it plans to move into the 16-inch realm.
At this point, however, Apple’s plans for a larger iPad Pro aren’t even definite, much less around the corner. Gurman notes that it’s “unlikely for next” as Apple is focusing on redesigns in the current sizes, but says they could “hit stores a couple of years down the road.”
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]