Apple iPad event: What to expect

Image credits: Apple

So far, the biggest surprise about the May 7 “Let Loose” event is that it’s actually happening. We’re just over a month away from Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and yet the company has determined there’s enough news to warrant a standalone event, which kicks off at 7 a.m. tomorrow ( Pacific Time)/10 a.m. Eastern Time. iPads (including the iPad Pro and iPad Air) will be the center of attention, while the long-neglected Apple Pencil is finally getting some love. After all, that was the focal point of the event invitation.

Rumors also began to circulate around a possible M4 announcement. If true, it would represent a key change in Apple’s silicon release cadence, although it hasn’t exactly been consistent over the years. The most likely reason for the change is Microsoft’s expected release of proprietary ARM-based silicon at its Build conference at the end of the month. Speculation has it that Microsoft’s AI-focused silicon will smoke Apple’s M3 chips.

It’s only been about seven months since Apple announced a trio of M3 chips. That’s a quick turnaround time for a replacement chip, but keep in mind that the company was reportedly working on a more staggered release schedule last year, only to see those plans spoiled by some lingering chain issues supply. Perhaps this readjustment of the schedule could see additional M4 SKUs announced at WWDC a month from now.

In the meantime, it’s possible that, for the first time, the latest chip will appear first on an iPad, specifically the iPad Pro. At the very least, the high-end iPad could use a refresh. The latest model, featuring the M2 chip, was released towards the end of 2022. Apple has spent the last few years blurring the line between the iPad and the Mac, so why not let the tablet get its hands on it first new silicon for a change. ?

The other big change to the Pro would be the long-awaited upgrade to an OLED display. Bloomberg suggests it can’t come soon enough, as the tablet category is “in a deep depression right now.” Certainly, the days of the iPad, one of Apple’s superstar devices, seem mostly behind us.


Image credits: Matthew Panzarino

The company continues to dominate the category, but the tablet had a tough 2023, giving Apple a big slice of an increasingly smaller pie. Canalys says the overall market shrank by 10% last year. Given the Vision Pro’s slow start, Apple could really use a shot in the arm right now – even if a redesigned iPad doesn’t really fit the bill.

A pair of new iPad Airs are said to arrive in 11- and 12.9-inch versions. The current rumor is still that the more accessible models will receive an M2 chip – if the M4 arrives next week, however, perhaps they will also receive an additional boost.

For what remains a relatively niche device, the Apple Pencil is apparently ready for its big shot. The stylus would receive a new update to the compression sensing feature (which was hinted at earlier in an iPad). Haptic feedback could also be on the program, as well as interchangeable magnetic tips. Find My support could also be coming – a welcome addition for a perennially misplaced device. Speaking of blurring the lines between the iPad and the Mac, Apple’s latest Magic Keyboard makes the tablet feel even more like a laptop than before.


Image credits: Apple

As for the Macs themselves, with the arrival of the M4, I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see the company introduce a computer refresh or two. It seems just as likely, if not more likely, that Apple will make major additions to the Mac. online for WWDC in June.

The event is an early event for you West Coasters, but you can watch it live here and follow TechCrunch for news as it happens.

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