Apple developing iPad upgrades, refreshed Mac lineup

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Apple developing iPad upgrades, refreshed Mac lineup

Apple is creating new features for the iPad to cater to professional users, along with new Mac laptops and desktops, according to people familiar with the matter.

Upcoming software upgrades for the iPad include wider operating-system support for Apple’s stylus accessory, while hardware performance improvements are also in development, according to the people.

The refreshed Mac hardware line includes new versions of the iMac desktop, MacBook Air laptop and a 5K standalone monitor in collaboration with LG Electronics, in addition to a thinner MacBook Pro laptop.

The company hopes to ship the updated iPad software next year, while the Macs are expected as soon as late 2016, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products. Apple has not updated any Macs, besides the 12-inch MacBook, since last year. The company declined to comment.

While iPad unit sales have declined year over year for nine straight quarters, the average selling price jumped in the fiscal third quarter from purchases of pricier iPad Pro models. That produced the first increase in quarterly iPad revenue in more than two years.

New features aimed at higher-paying professional customers could support this trend, while the goal of the Mac updates is to keep the line’s sales numbers stable even as sales of rival personal computers continue falling.

Apple may roll out the new iPad software features as part of an upgrade to the iOS 10 operating system in the first half of 2017, or save the enhancements for the next major iOS version later in the year, said one of the people. Apple began integrating features exclusive to the iPad last year with the release of a mode to work in two applications simultaneously.

The planned iPad update will include improvements to the Apple Pencil, a handwriting and drawing stylus aimed at professionals, according to one of the people. Apple has considered allowing users to annotate objects in many applications across the whole operating system, including in Mail, the Safari web browser, and iMessage, similar to what Samsung Electronics offers on its Note smartphones, the person said. Currently, Apple only supports Pencil functionality in specifically developed apps.

The new iPad hardware will include faster display technology that allows for smoother zooming, panning and scrolling, one of the people said. Apple isn’t planning to update its iPad lineup until next year, when a new version of the iPad Pro will be released with a 10.5-inch display, up from the current 9.7-inch display, according to a recent research note by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple is holding an event on Sept. 7 in San Francisco. The keynote will focus on upgraded versions of the iPhone, a new Apple Watch with GPS tracking and new health features, and an iOS 10 software update for iPhones and iPads, according to people familiar with the matter. The new Macs are currently expected to be announced at a later date, the people said. Bloomberg

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