The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is Apple’s chance to reveal their new operating systems and software that developers can use to make new apps and services. Huge changes come to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, as well as the tools we use to make apps for these platforms, like Xcode. Apple has also occasionally used this as an event to introduce new products. These are rarely hardware focused events, but if Apple’s introducing new hardware that developers will have to change their apps for (or create completely new apps), then it’s a good time for a reveal. Apple has revealed new iPhone models, Macs, Intel integration, and more at these events. While WWDC keynotes are typically focused on new software for developers to leverage, they do occasionally introduce new products or product categories. That’s where this latest rumor comes from. Apple didn’t completely overhaul their iPad lineup in the spring as they usually do. Instead, they introduced a new low cost 9.7″ iPad and stopped selling older models. The current 9.7″ iPad Pro (review) was released in March of 2016. The 12.9″ iPad Pro was released in November of 2015. The iPad mini was released in September of 2015. These are devices that have gone more than a year, almost two for the iPad mini, without even a modest spec bump. Apple’s products are due for an update, and if Apple’s revealing a new leap forward for the iPad Pro, WWDC, starting on June 5th, may be the perfect time to do it.
The 10.5″ iPad Pro has been rumored for some time. It’s been expected that Apple would do away with the large bezels on the sides of the iPad, using palm rejection technology on the edges of the screen so people could still hold their devices. A 10.5″ screen would take up most of the front of the device if the iPad Pro size does not change from the 9.7″ model, which is expected. The device would showcase technology that will eventually make its way to the iPhone 8, to be released later this year.
Two sources have pointed to a WWDC release of the 10.5″ iPad Pro. The first came two days ago, when an employee of case maker Urban Armor Gear revealed a photo of their inventory. It showed a new case category for the iPad 10.5″, expected to be released in June of 2017. Case makers are often speculative, wanting to ensure they have cases ready for devices as soon as they’re released. The manufacturers may have seen the new designs either through a partnership with Apple or through leaks. They’re not always the most reliable of sources, but have been correct about new hardware on multiple occasions. The Poetic case I’m using on my iPad Pro now was likely developed before the iPad Pro’s launch, as it was available before other case makers began churning out designs for Apple’s latest tablet.
The second source is one we may be more familiar with, KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo’s predictions aren’t made for Apple enthusiasts like you or me, they’re not made for headlines or reporters, they’re made for investors. His predictions have to be accurate to ensure his company is trusted by their clients, and can make informed decisions with their investments. Kuo has made some of the most accurate Apple predictions over the years. He’s now stating that the 10.5″ iPad Pro has a 70% chance of being revealed during WWDC, likely during the opening keynote on June 5th. He’s backed this up by stating that suppliers are ramping up production starting in early June, which means the iPad Pro could be available soon after it’s revealed this summer.
Apple’s new iPad Pro will show off their latest screen technology, supporting a wide gamut of colors, a large, nearly bezel-free screen, and, of course, Apple Pencil compatibility, which makes the iPad Pro one of the most important devices for designers and artists they’ve ever released. While app developers are still working to create iPad Pro software (I’m still anxiously waiting for Affinity Photo for the iPad), the device has allowed users to pick up Apple’s slack on other platforms, such as macOS, where Apple still doesn’t have a device with a touch screen or Apple Pencil support. Apps like Astropad have helped close this gap with display mirroring. Apple will most certainly reveal updates to iOS, macOS, and perhaps even watchOS and tvOS during WWDC, but now we know we may see new hardware updates as well.
- Bryan Clark, The Next Web: “Leak: 10.5-inch iPad Pro could be coming next month.”
- Jon Fingas, Engadget: “Apple’s fabled iPad redesign my arrive at WWDC.”
- Neil Hughes, AppleInsider: “Apple expected to reveal new 10.5-inch iPad Pro at WWDC.“
- Wikipedia: “Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.”
- Wikipedia: “iPad.”