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How Apple could improve the iPad at WWDC

Commentary: As Apple's WWDC conference approaches, so could iPad news. Apple's tablet could use some evolution.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

It's 2017. It feels like it's been years since I dreamed of the iPad as a true laptop replacement. (Actually, it's been five years.) I've come to accept that that day may never come. Instead, the iPad's destiny might be to ride alongside laptops and Macs, slowly glomming on new features until the inevitable day when the difference doesn't even matter.

Maybe that day is already here. Apple's next WWDC developer conference is approaching, and among the expectations are not just iOS and Mac software, but iPad and Mac hardware.

The iPad already serves as a really good when-I-don't-have-my-laptop laptop. But can it also be my laptop? It's close, as I've said before. Apple could make a few changes. These are the ones I'd like to see.


Time to remove some of that bezel.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Removing bezels could be nice for landscape-mode work

If the next iPad hits the rumored 10.5-inch screen size, that would strike a nice balance between 9.7 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. Not necessary, but nice. The 9.7-inch Pro, my favorite, fits well on the go but has a bit of a cramped screen for any split-screen dual-app work. The 12.9-inch iPad has a great big display but it's a really big tablet for travel... and it's a year and a half old. 


The Smart Connector could do more.

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Add more accessories

The smart connector -- those little dots on the side of any iPad Pro -- promises so much but does so little. Right now it connects to simple snap-on keyboard covers and a charging dock, and that's it.

What about other modular accessories? What if it handled Pencil-charging, instead of having the Pencil jut out of the Lightning port like a sword? Or, something that combined keyboard and trackpad, at long last, to add the type of laptop edits I've been waiting for? That would also require…

A revamped more work-ready Safari browser

Safari on the iPad, or any iOS browser, usually ends up with limitations for some work I do versus doing the same thing on a PC browser. I'd love to see a revamped Safari that tries to be even more effective at being a do-it-all tool. At my Mac, I have my browser open all day with many tabs open. On the iPad, not so much.

Better universal file storage

Mac and iOS are starting to share a lot of files in common: desktop, documents, photos and more (if you enable it). I'd like to see a complete file access system where everything is easily located at once: Finally, a full-computer-type feel on an iPad. We're close.


Two apps is nice, more would be better.

Sarah Tew/CNET

More split-pane options (and widgets)

Apple opened up multitasking two years ago with split-screen apps, and the quick-peek swipe-from-the-side Slide Over mode. Not all apps work well in narrow split panes, though. It would be great to have other modes, too: grids of small widgets, or an ability to add more split-screen apps at once.

Change the whole main screen and dock

The iPad still has a user interface that leans so hard on being like an iPhone, and it really doesn't make much sense anymore. The iPad's a massive-screened thing, but all it shows on the typical home screen is a five by four grid of apps and a dock of six more. There are widgets available with a simple swipe-right, but the iPad should still allow a lot more customization of what's seen at startup and of how it's laid out. That could even make it a far better quick-use tool.

Even better pro apps

The iPad already has a pretty great selection of tools including photo editors and graphics apps. Some pros would like to see it go even further. Maybe a full version of Photoshop, for instance? If enough great iPad apps exist to do most jobs, maybe the rest of the iPad doesn't need to change that much after all.

But I'd like it to.