There have been enough rumors about an iPad pro to suggest that this device will, indeed, be announced either today or next month. I’ve been thinking about the idea of a larger iPad, and how useful it would be. And I realized that a 12″ (or whatever size) iPad in the same form factor wouldn’t be enough differentiation to make the iPad pro really useful.
What would make sense, however, is a wide-screen iPad. I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who have told me that they mostly watch TV on their iPads. (A recent survey says that 22% of people watch TV on their iPads.)
This is something I do to. Sometimes I lie in bed watching something on Netflix or Amazon Prime video, or movies I’ve ripped or purchased from the iTunes Store. And I’m always irked by the fact that so much of the beautiful retina iPad display is wasted when watching anything that’s not in 4:3 (which is anything that’s not an old TV show).
Making a wide-screen iPad would not only be beneficial for watching videos, but also for the new (in iOS 9) split-screen feature available on the iPad. Split-screen view on the current iPad, even in landscape orientation, is cramped. But on a wide-screen iPad, it would be much more usable.
When the iPad was first released, I wrote, for Macworld, an article explaining why I thought Apple had selected the 4:3 format. I said:
It looks like Apple’s choice of the 4:3 format is designed to fit certain types of usage, such as reading books and magazines, browsing the Web and using productivity applications.
That format made sense when the iPad was a new device, when people weren’t sure how they’d use it. Now that the iPad comes in two sizes – mini and maxi – adding a third size with a different aspect ratio would allow those users who want a device for viewing videos to have a much better display. I may be wrong, but I think a wide-screen iPad, with the same width as the current model, would be just the thing that a lot of people would want.
Update: As we’ve seen, the iPad pro is not a wide-screen iPad. I still think it would be a great idea.