Word on the web is that Apple has instructed its suppliers to prepare for the production of a 12.9-inch iPad tablet in the second half of the year. It's not the first time we've heard rumors of a bigger size iPad, and people who are supposedly familiar with the situation say that Apple had originally intended to start mass producing the 12.9-inch slate in the first quarter of this year.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the delay in production will allow Apple to add further upgrades to the iPad, including the introduction of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. This would be a huge addition to the iPad family, as the lack of native USB connectivity has been a knock against the tablet line ever since it came out.
Apple is also supposedly working on some kind of technology that would speed up the time it takes to charge an iPad, though it's unclear if this or USB connectivity will ultimately make it into the final design. Given the choice between the two, we'd like to see USB ports added.
Either or both would give Apple cause to label the 12.9-inch device "iPad Pro," a name that's been floated around in previous rumors. The aforementioned upgrades, along with a bigger size display, would certainly make it easier for businesses to consider deploying iPads, especially with the recent focus on productivity apps.
While there's no mention of it, Apple would be wise to implement the same features in its 9.7-inch iPad to reinvigorate sales. Apple in January said it sold 18 percent fewer iPads during the final quarter of 2014 than it did in the same quarter a year prior. The company has also seen its share of the tablet market decline as worldwide tablet shipments declined for the first time in the fourth quarter.
In addition to the news on the iPad Pro, there was a just a nugget of information buried at the bottom of the report relating to the long-rumored Retina MacBook Air. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 12-inch ultraportable notebook will ship in during the second quarter. It’s possible that Apple could unveil the new laptop at its Apple Watch event scheduled for Monday, but don’t hold us to that prediction.