Apple gearing up for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro: report

Apple will release an 'iPad Pro' with a larger screen later this year, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The iPad Pro could have USB ports and include technology to allow it to charge faster.

Sarah Bentham/AP/File
Apple will release a 12.9-inch iPad aimed at business users this year, says a Wall Street Journal report. Here, iPads and iPhones are displayed at a Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas.

If you enjoy working on a tablet but find the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen too cramped, 2015 might be a good year for you. Apple will start producing a 12.9-inch iPad, rumored to be called the iPad Pro or iPad Plus, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The iPad Pro may include USB 3.0 ports, which will allow users to transfer files to and from the tablet at fast speeds. If that’s true, you’d be able to plug a standard USB flash drive in to the iPad Pro, or back up your files and apps to an external hard disk.

Extra ports could even allow a keyboard and mouse to be plugged in and used to control the iPad Pro. Current iPads and iPhones have only a single proprietary Lightning port.

It’s possible that the larger iPad might be aimed at business users. Apple’s tablet sales are in a bit of a slump. The company’s worldwide tablet share slipped from 33.1 percent at the end of 2013 to 28.1 percent at the end of 2014. At the same time, however, iPhones and iPads are gaining a toehold in offices, eating away at the market share once held by BlackBerry. Apple now has an agreement with IBM to sell iPhones and iPads to business clients, and perhaps an iPad with a larger screen and a complement of data ports would be enticing to office workers who want to be able to edit spreadsheets and review reports on a tablet.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal says the iPad Pro could also include technology to allow it to charge much more quickly. The iPad Air takes about four hours to charge its battery from empty to full using the included wall charger. An iPad with a larger screen would also need a larger battery to achieve acceptable battery life, and so – in the absence of faster charging technology – would need to be plugged in longer.

All technology companies, Apple included, experiment with new features prior to launching products. It’s not guaranteed that all, or any, of the rumored features will make it to production – Apple could well decide to launch a larger-screen iPad without any additional ports. (And indeed, the company’s general tendency is to remove ports from its consumer products rather than to add them.) But a 12.9-inch tablet with some additional features aimed at business use could help Apple gain even more of a foothold in the workplace.

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