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Apple's big-screened iPad Pro won't enter mass production until September or October, and the business-oriented tablet may come with a stylus.
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The iPad Pro still isn't official, but two reports suggest Apple will scale up production of the large tablet in the weeks ahead. There's also a possibility the tablet will support a stylus for input.
Apple has been working on the iPad Pro for some time.
The device has been the subject of rumors for more than a year. It is widely believed to be a larger version of the iPad Air 2, with a screen measuring 12.9 inches across the diagonal. The device will have differentiated software, an improved keyboard, and split-screen multitasking to make it a better daily workhorse for mobile professionals.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a reasonably good track record with predicting Apple products, believes the tablet will enter mass production in late September or early October. This puts the tablet's debut squarely in October, if not early November. The timing is about on par with past iPad launches. In 2014 and 2013, for example, Apple announced its new iPads at events in mid-October, with the tablets reaching store shelves in late October or early November.
Kuo's report is somewhat corroborated by one published in DigiTimes, which says the iPad Pro will begin production in September, but mass production won't kick in until October. Some of the companies on tap to provide parts and assemble the slate include Sharp, Samsung Display, General Interface Solutions, and of course Foxconn. DigiTimes' track record of accuracy is spotty at best.
It's not clear when Apple will announce the iPad Pro.
Apple is expected to hold an event on or about Sept. 9 for new iPhones. Some believe the iPads will be shown off then, while others now think Apple will wait a month to announce the new slates at a separate event. Based on these new reports, it would seem the latter is more likely.
Surprisingly, Kuo says the iPad Pro will support a stylus accessory.
This is a new(er) development, and a curious one at that. Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs famously dissed styli when he introduced the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. He believed fingers should be the only necessary means of input, and, moreover, relying on styli meant the underlying software and user interface weren't good enough.
The stylus will be Force Touch-enabled, according to Kuo, which means users will be able to interact with the device differently depending on how hard they press the stylus to the display. Kuo goes so far as to say Cheng Uei will be the only company to assemble the stylus.
Force Touch is expected to be the hallmark feature of the iPhone 6s. It is already available on the Apple Watch and newest MacBook. Kuo thinks Apple will eventually push Force Touch across its entire product line.
As always, Apple has remained completely mum on the subject.
Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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