Apple iPad event: What to expect

Image credits: apple

So far, the biggest surprise about May 7’s “Let Loose” event is that it actually happened. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is just over a month away, yet the company has decided there’s enough news to warrant a standalone event, which starts tomorrow at 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET. The focus will be on iPads (including the iPad Pro and iPad Air), while the long-neglected Apple Pencil is finally getting some love. It was, after all, the focal point of the event invitation.

Rumors have also started swirling about a possible M4 announcement. If true, it would represent a major change in Apple’s silicon release pace, though that hasn’t been entirely consistent over the years. The most likely reason for the change is Microsoft’s expected release of ARM-based silicon at its Build conference at the end of the month. Speculation suggests that Microsoft’s AI-focused silicon will smoke Apple’s M3 chips.

It’s been almost seven months since Apple announced its M3 chipset trio. That’s a quick turnaround for a replacement chip, but keep in mind that the company is believed to have been working on a more staggered release schedule last year, only for those plans to be scrapped due to some ongoing supply chain issues. This timeline adjustment may result in additional M4 SKUs being announced during WWDC within a month.

Meanwhile, the latest chip could be making its debut on the iPad, specifically the iPad Pro. At the very least, the high-end iPad is due for a refresh. The latest model, which has the M2 chip, was released at the end of 2022. Apple has spent the last several years blurring the line between iPad and Mac, so why not let the tablet get its hands on new silicon first for a change?

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The other big change in the Pro is said to be the long-awaited upgrade to an OLED display. Bloomberg suggests That can’t come soon enough, as the tablet category is “in a state of deep disarray at the moment.” Certainly, the days of the iPad, one of Apple’s great devices, seem mostly behind us.

Image credits: Matthew Panzarino

The company still dominated the category, but the tablet was facing around 2023, giving Apple a large slice of an increasingly shrinking pie. Canalis says the market in general It’s down 10% in the past year. Given the Vision Pro’s slow start, Apple could really use a shot in the arm now — although the redesigned iPad doesn’t really fit the bill.

A pair of new iPad Airs will reportedly arrive in 11- and 12.9-inch versions. Current rumors still point to more accessible models receiving the M2 chip – if the M4 arrives next week, it’ll likely get an extra bump too.

For what’s still a relatively niche device, the Apple Pencil seems ready for up-close use. The stylus is reportedly getting a new update to the pressure detection feature (which was previously mentioned in the iPad). Haptic feedback can also be present, along with interchangeable magnetic tips. The Find My Support app could arrive too – a welcome addition to a forever misplaced peripheral. Speaking of blurring the lines between iPad and Mac, Apple’s latest Magic Keyboard makes the tablet feel more like a laptop than before.

Image credits: apple

As for the Mac hardware itself, with the M4’s arrival, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see the company sneak a PC update or two. And it seems as likely – or even more likely – that Apple will save the major additions to the Mac line for WWDC in June.

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This is a bit early for you West Coasters, but you can watch it live here and stay tuned to TechCrunch for news as it breaks.

Read more about Apple's 2024 iPad event



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