iOS 9 Productivity Features Put Apple On Track To Boost iPad Sales

Apple lifted the curtain on several new productivity features Monday in its latest iOS version at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Partners hailed the enterprise-targeted features of Apple's newest operating system version, iOS 9, as a way to facilitate iPad workplace functionality and push tablet sales in the enterprise market.

"The multitasking announcements for iOS 9 are very significant to users. … That will be a game changer for many iPad users, especially in productivity uses, like workplace environments," said Raul de Arriz, national government sales manager for Waitsfield, Vt.-based Small Dog Electronics, an Apple specialist. "Having that productivity function is a very welcome addition."

[Related: 10 New Apple Software Features That Will Make Partners Cheer]

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iOS 9 touts enhanced features of QuickType, a virtual keyboard allowing users with iPads to type more easily on their devices using a keyboard and trackpad. With QuickType, the users can scroll across the screen and edit items by swiping with two fingers.

The new upgraded OS version also contains a multitasking feature for tablets that allows iPad users to utilize two separate apps on the screen at the same time, either side-by-side with a split view or a picture-in-picture view.

In addition, iOS 9 features a Shortcut Bar for faster typing, and a Multi-Touch gestures control to make it easier for users to select and edit text.

Michael Oh, CEO and founder of Boston-based Apple partner Tech SuperPowers, said he hopes these new productivity features will push customer demand for hardware, particularly the iPad.

"Products like Surface 3 are popping up and putting more pressure on Apple, particularly for hardware refreshes and in terms of performance and productivity features," he said. "These types of features do push people to getting better hardware sooner."

"The multitasking features in particular were interesting to see, the implementation of that seems to be nice and slick," he added.

According to Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, the new OS will improve the iPad's appeal to the enterprise market.

"We're elevating the iPad experience to a whole different level," he said. "iPad has always supported forms of multitasking, but for iOS 9 we're taking it to a whole new place."

The new features fuel rumors of a new, more business-friendly 12.9-inch iPad, which Bloomberg reports will be released in the second half of the year.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple reportedly is looking at add-on USB ports to quicken data transfer and ports to connects a keyboard and mouse to the new device, according to a Bloomberg report.

These investments come as iPad sales have slumped in a struggling tablet market. iPad sales declined 23 percent year over year for the ninth quarter of decline in the first quarter of 2015, according to CEO Tim Cook.

Analysts blame slower-than-predicted replacement cycles, as well as increased popularity of other devices such as larger-screened phones, or "phablets," as the main roadblocks for increased tablet sales.

However, looking forward, Apple partners said they are confident that iOS 9's new features will drive customer demand for the iPad.

"With iOS 8, features like QuickType weren't as intuitive, but I think this version has a bigger focus on user experience," said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif.-based Apple partner. "This typing feature promotes workflow and efficiency, and these are things that will resonate with customers."

Marc A. Wolfe, president of ProActive Inc., a Wayne, N.J.-based solution provider, praised the productivity and security aspects of iOS 9 as essential for enterprise clients.

"Apple showed native two-factor and six-digit passcodes on iOS 9 -- I like that they're stepping up security with this software," said Wolfe. "I see a lot of clients asking us about portable devices. Customers want lighter, faster and more convenient products, and with iOS 9, Apple is now delivering portable products with some of the features missing before, such as picture in picture."

iOS 9 will be available as a free software update for iPhone, iPad and iPod users in the fall, according to Apple.