TECH

Apple Is Planning A 12-Inch iPad For... What, Exactly?

27/08/2014 11:16 BST | Updated 27/08/2014 11:59 BST

Now that the iPhone 6 is virtually a done deal, the endlessly restless hive that is the tech press has moved onto another product that (a) supposedly might exist and (b) you might one day find a reason to buy.

That product is the 12.9-inch iPad that you never knew you wanted.

The internet is full of rumours and reports based on this Bloomberg news story, stating that the bigger iPad will "enter production" in early 2015.

In itself the idea isn't that surprising. iPad sales are down (though Tim Cook says that's only a 'speed bump'), while other manufacturers are starting to get good reviews for their productivity-focused large-screen tablets.

But what exactly is the point of a larger iPad - and will it represent a genuine rethink of how laptops and tablets are designed to work together, separately, or as some kind of Surface-style hybrid?

Ultimately, there are two main ways we can see this going...

Option 1: It's just a larger iPad.

Apple unveils a 12.9-inch iPad which is thin, light, has a nice screen and runs iOS 8, but in almost every way is totally boring. Apple pitches the big iPad as a "perfect device" for watching movies and playing games, but leaves it up to third-party manufacturers to provide the keyboards/accessories to turn it into a genuine productivity device.

Option 2: Apple dips a hesitant toe in the 'hybrid' swamp.

Apple unveils a larger iPad with a new focus on multi-tasking in iOS 8 (possibly split screen?), some new official Type Cover-style keyboard cases or accessories, and perhaps even a new stylus (we know, we know) designed to make the new iPad a genuine laptop replacement.

But as you'll notice, they're both quite similar -- essentially this is a bigger iPad, with some marketing/software tweaks, or not.

We can't see Apple blending iOS and Mac OS X in any significant way beyond the integration we've already seen, and we can't see this device directly replacing laptops as a product category any time soon.

Ultimately, if Apple does release a big iPad it'll just be 'because they can'. That said, the same thing was true of the iPad Mini, and that turned out great. So let's wait and see...