Microsoft struggled to keep up with new computing trends in recent years, falling behind the industry in smartphone and tablet offerings, but the company appears to be making up significant ground with its Surface line and Windows 10 plans. According to a new report, those changes could even result in Apple directly taking on Microsoft's products.
Rumors of Apple's work on a larger iPad have existed for about a year, as have rumors of a new multitasking feature in iOS for its tablet line, and a report by 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman claims they could be revealed as soon as in June. The report cautions that plans could change, however, and the multitasking feature may not even be revealed at the Worldwide Apple Developer Conference in June if it's not polished enough.
Apple's rumored products could be seen as a direct response to Microsoft's Surface line. If the feature is revealed, it will work similar to Microsoft's multitasking capabilities for tablets that have been available since Windows 8. A user would be able to snap an iOS app so that they take up a half or a third of an iPad's screen, while another app – or a separate window of the same app – would take up the remaining space. This feature was originally rumored in May 2014 in advance of iOS 8's release, though Gurman claims it was pushed back so Apple could divert resources to its iPhone and Apple Watch lines.
In addition to combating Microsoft's Windows features, Apple could be aiming to assault the company's hardware as well, with a 12-inch tablet to take on Microsoft's Surface Pro line.
The new tablet, reportedly codenamed "J99," would largely be a bigger version of Apple's iPad Air 2, with improvements such as additional speakers. As with Microsoft's Surface line, the larger iPad is rumored to feature at least one USB port as well as additional support for keyboard peripherals. Similar to the iOS multitasking reports, a larger iPad has been rumored for several months, with leaked images in May 2014 allegedly showing the tablet and Bloomberg reporting in August 2014 that Apple was working on the device.
Recent reports indicated Apple was facing supply-chain issues in manufacturing the larger iPad, though Gurman claims the company may now be waiting for the software and hardware to align before the tablet is announced.
While Microsoft hasn't seen Apple's level of success in the tablet category, its Surface line has steadily increased revenue, recently becoming a billion-dollar business for the company. If Apple were to introduce a larger tablet and split-screen capabilities, the two tech giants would be competing much more directly than they currently are.