Dan Provost of Studio Neat wrote an interesting post last week about reports that Apple is planning on releasing a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro alongside the 12.9- and 9.7-inch versions.
The idea seems kind of far-fetched at first. Provost himself cites John Gruber’s statement that it doesn’t make any sense, but after reading Provost’s post, Gruber said that “the math works out”. And I have to admit, the more I think about it, the more appealing this possible product sounds to me.
I did the math 5 months ago, after Ming-Chi Kuo’s first rumour about the new iPad:
If you take the resolution of the 12.9″ iPad Pro of 2732 x 2048 px (it also has 264 PPI) and shrink it down to 10.5″, you get approximately 326 PPI. This could mean that the 10.5″ iPad Pro would get the slightly larger UI of the biggest iPad in the lineup, together with the better virtual keyboard and more room for two apps side by side.
I have not changed by mind — I love the amount of information that fits on the iPad Pros 12.9″ screen, but I would love to have it in a smaller form factor. My only worry is the Smart Keyboard — I use it because of its full-sized keys. Back to Jason:
A slightly wider iPad Pro would give Apple and third-party keyboard makers a little more room with which to work. Yes, the 12.9-inch model is 65 millimeters wider than the smaller iPad, but a look at the respective Smart Keyboards suggests that the 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard has width to spare. There’s at least 30 millimeters total of wasted space on the sides of the larger Smart Keyboard. Squash a few of the modifier keys at the edges, as on the smaller model, and an iPad that’s only slightly larger would probably allow for a keyboard with full-sized keys.
I really hope Jason is right about this and this is the path that Apple chooses — typing on the 9.7″ Smart Keyboard is a pain for me.
I also wonder if this might be an opportunity for Apple to release its own keyboard cover based on the new butterfly keyswitches it’s using on the MacBook and MacBook Pro, rather than leaving traditional keyboards to the third-party market.
I’ve grown to really like both the Smart Keyboard and the new butterfly mechanisms on my late 2016 MacBook Pro and Magic Keyboard. A marriage of the two would be a very interesting concept. It should also be more than possible — Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 keyboard is very good.
But I’ll give back a little bit of physical size if it also can bring support for full-sized external keyboards to the party.