Apple fans would never deign to carry a Surface Pro, but Microsoft’s advanced tablet has a lot to offer. PCWorld’s Mark Hachman swears by his Surface Pro 3, praising its light weight, generous 12-inch screen size, and improved Type Cover. Since it runs full Windows 8.1, he can run all the same apps he has on a more traditional PC, and it’s even got ports: USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, and microSD. I’m not exactly jealous (I mean, Windows), but I can see the appeal.
Apple isn’t going to slap a Mini DisplayPort onto an iPad anytime soon, but the rumored 12-inch iPad Pro could be just what it needs to appeal to users who are happy in the iOS ecosystem, but want to squeeze even more productivity out of their iPad experience. A new report in 9to5Mac claims that Apple is prepping features that would bring some of the Surface’s selling points to the iPad line.
The first is side-by-side apps. 9to5Mac’s sources claim splitscreen mode will be able to shrink app views to half the screen, a third of the screen, or two-thirds of the screen. This will let you keep two apps open side by side, even if you don’t want them to be equally sized. For example, keeping Safari open in two-thirds of the window, and Byword open in the last third would help me tremendously when I’m adding links to my article drafts. Or you could split the screen to see multiple views of the same app—you might keep a long email displayed on half of the screen, so you can refer to it easily while you’re composing your reply in the other half.
Other features rumored for the tablet include speakers on all four sides, a USB port—likely USB-C, although the Wall Street Journal reports USB 3. (Those don’t have to be mutually exclusive; it could be a USB-C port that transfers data at USB 3 speeds.)
“Ports to connect a keyboard and mouse” were also mentioned by the WSJ, but USB-C could get that done too, if you don’t mind adding a dongle. Not that I’d ever use a wired keyboard with an iPad (and never a mouse, perish the thought!), but different strokes I guess. 9to5Mac mentions multi-user support too, but we all know how Apple likes everyone to have their own device, so I’m not holding my breath for that either.
The story behind the story: Apple doesn’t demo every single feature of the new iOS during the WWDC preview. So it’s possible that some or all of these software features could be absent from the June 8 keynote and held for the iPad Pro, which, if it were to debut in 2015, would probably come out in the fall. We wouldn’t be surprised if the splitscreen feature was dependent on the roomier iPad Pro, either. After all, Apple needs to add more compelling features to future iPad iterations to convince people to upgrade.