by Sarah K. White

What the iPad Pro needs to compete in the enterprise

News Analysis
Sep 08, 2015
iPadMobileSmall and Medium Business

Apple is feeling the heat as Windows and Android tablets and hybrid devices start to take enterprise market share. But will the iPad Pro be the tablet of business user's dreams? Maybe, but it only if it includes a few important features.

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Credit: wikimedia

Apple’s yearly fall product announcement is lined up for tomorrow, and the rumor mill has been churning since the iPhone 6 was announced a year ago. Of course, Apple’s formula has gotten a bit predictable; release a new iPhone in the fall and then an updated version of that iPhone, along with a new software release the following year. But every now and then Apple throws some curveballs, and this year, many are convinced we’ll finally get a glimpse of that giant iPad everyone’s been hinting at for more than a year.

The purported device will be aimed at business users, theoretically to compete with the likes of the Surface Pro 3, and similar hybrid tablets. It would make sense, because Microsoft has experienced an uptick in sales of the Surface Pro 3 for business, as more companies turn to mobile options outside of the iOS ecosystem. But if the rumors are true, will the forthcoming oversized iPad come with enough features to appease and entice the enterprise? Perhaps, but there are certain features Apple will need to include in order to entice business users to an iOS tablet for work.

A bigger display

Dubbed the iPad Pro, it’s expected to be a bigger and more capable version of the current iPad Air 2 and pack a large display. Sources such as 9 to 5 Mac point to a possible 12.9-inch display, which is bigger than the newest version of the 12-inch MacBook. For further comparison, the MacBook Pro starts at 13.3-inches for display size. Behind the rumor is evidence turned up by a developer named Steve Troughton-Smith, who found a larger on-screen keyboard format while examining the iOS 9 software development kit.

[ Related: Is Apple losing its enterprise tablet edge? ]

The capability to have split screen apps

That screen real estate could allow ample room for side-by-side full portrait apps —  a feature currently lacking on iOS devices, but that is slated to arrive alongside iOS 9. This is an important feature for any iOS device that Apple wants to be taken seriously in the enterprise. Walk through any modern workplace, and you’ll likely see most workers have at least two monitor displays at their workstations. Employees want the capability to have two windows open side-by-side, and with a 12.9-inch display, that could be a real possibility.

Business-friendly peripherals

While the rumored device is expected to lack mouse capabilities, experts expect the iOS tablet will work with a Force Touch-integrated iPad stylus. That might be enough to sway business users who want to get serious work done, just couple the stylus with a stylish keyboard case, and business users will be able to get that laptop-experience. However, if you find yourself constantly reaching for a mouse when trying to use a tablet as a computer, even a stylus might not sway you.

Storage beyond 16GB

The iPad Pro is rumored to ship with 64GB of memory, instead of the 16GB base model that Apple usually releases. This is great news, because the device will most likely lack a microSD card for expandable storage. Most business users will want at least 64GB to store apps and documents, and some might even want to scale up to 128GB. It makes sense that Apple would aim for more storage, considering the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 comes with at least 64GB of onboard storage, with the option to expand storage with a microSD card.

[ Related: Hands-on with iOS 9’s slick new multitasking features for iPad ]

More customization, but don’t hold your breath

If Apple is looking to compete in the business space, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 will still have an edge over the iPad Pro when it comes to customization. Surface Pro 3 users have the option to choose between a number of configurations with an Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor as well as 4GB or 8GB of RAM. The iPad Pro is expected to ship with Apple’s A9X chip, according to 9 to 5 Mac, with 2GB of RAM. While that isn’t anything to scoff at, performance-wise, it still leaves out configuration as an option if businesses compare the two competing devices.

It will be interesting to see if Apple decides to offer more of the features found on its competition’s tablets. But, there’s also the chance that Apple will unveil the iPhone 6S and some screenshots of iOS 9, and leave iPad fans waiting.