The iPad Is Changing This Year

The iPad Is Changing This Year

The iPad is a product equally beloved and criticized: It has its devoted fans, who love it as it is, and use it for everything from work, passion projects, and entertainment. But it also has detractors, mostly those who see it as a limited experience thanks to an underpowered OS.

While Apple rarely seems to cater to the whims of its critics, it has made some iterative changes to the iPad over the years: iPadOS used to be an undeniably “tablet” experience, before Apple revamped its multitasking features, not once, but twice. Throw in mouse and trackpad support, and the iPad can be used as a computer replacement.

Apple hasn’t made many fundamental changes to the overall design of the iPad in some time: The design of the Pro models remains almost identical to the ones released back in 2018, minus the 12.9-inch Pro’s mini-LED display. This year, however, could mark some massive changes in the iPad lineup, across both hardware to software.

Apple’s new iPads

iPad rumors have been in circulation for months now, but as we approach Apple’s big iPad event next week, the claims are only getting more serious.

Case in point, a new Bloomberg report from noted Apple reporter Mark Gurman presents the highlights of Apple’s iPad presentation: The star of the show is the iPad Pro. Apple is moving on from the mini-LED display on the 12.9-inch Pro (as well as the standard LCD on the 11-inch Pro) in favor of OLED. It’s the first time Apple has used this display tech in an iPad before, but better late than never: On OLED displays, each pixel can be lit up individually, which means they can be completely shut off for dark scenes. The contrast is incomparable to LCD, which is lit by one solid backlight, and improved over mini-LED: The latter uses many dimming zones to boost contrast, but comes with the side effect of light bloom, or white zones in the dark areas around an image.

In addition to the display upgrades, the rumors suggest these iPads could be the first to get Apple’s upcoming M4 chip, which may power many of Apple’s upcoming AI features. (At least, the ones not outsourced to OpenAI or Google.) Perhaps the 2024 iPad Pro will usher in Apple’s long-awaited AI strategy. We’ll just have to see.

While OLED iPads will certainly make headlines, the iPad Air is also getting an upgrade: Gurman expects Apple to unveil a new 12.9-inch version of the Air, for those who want a larger iPad without paying Pro prices. The standard 10.9-inch will also be available for anyone who likes the traditional form factor of the Air, and both are expected to come with Apple’s M2 chip. So, not the tablets to get for AI or the best contrast, but probably the best tablets for most people to consider.

Some new accessories for your new iPad

Of course, what’s an iPad without some additional (expensive) accessories? Gurman expects Apple to unveil new versions of both the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard. The new Pencil will come with haptic feedback, which I’m all for: Those are the tiny vibrations you feel in certain pieces of tech, which offers some physical feedback whenever completing an action. It’s not clear how Apple plans to implement that into the new Pencil, but it’d be cool if they came into play when drawing, erasing, or selecting items on-screen.

The new Magic Keyboard also sounds like a step up: It will reportedly use more durable materials, like aluminum, and will make the iPad “look more laptop-like.” While I’m a fan of the current Magic Keyboard, it does feel quite fragile compared to other Apple products. There are other areas I’d like to see improvements as well: The main keyboard is nice, but I hope Apple increases the size of the trackpad and adds a row of function keys. Honestly, if all they did was add brightness and volume controls to the keyboard, I’d be set.

The iPad is becoming a bit more like a computer

People have wanted to replace their Macs and PCs with iPads since the tablet’s launch in 2010. And although we’ve come a long way since that initial design, there’s no denying an iPad simply can’t do everything a traditional computer can. Sure, you can now have up to four windows on your iPhone running at once, and the Magic Keyboard lets you interact with your tablet much like a laptop, but you will continue to run into roadblocks and jump through painful workarounds to accomplish tasks that would be simple on a Mac.

There are many such differences Apple still needs to iron out, but one big one comes down to apps. Yes, the App Store is full of apps you can discover and download, but it isn’t the same experience as a computer: On a Mac or PC, you can find a fun app or utility on the web, install it, and be on your way. On iPadOS, if Apple didn’t approve the app on the App Store, you’re not running it.

That’s changing this year, at least in Europe: Apple confirmed Thursday it will allow app developers to sell their apps through third-party app stores and through websites, following the same rules the company rolled out for iPhones as of iOS 17.5. While app developers will still need to play by Apple’s rules and give a percentage of their revenue to the company (this isn’t a way to skirt Apple’s fees, after all), it gives users more options for where they can download their apps. It means iPhones feel more like Androids, and iPads feels more like computers: If you see an app online, and you want to install it directly on your iPad, you can.

Of course, the only reason Apple is doing this is because the European Commission is forcing them to. The E.U. sees the iPhone and the iPad as “gatekeeping technologies,” and, as such, must open up their platforms to allow for more competition. Unless we see similar legislation passed in the U.S., it’s unlikely we’ll get sideloading on iPads anytime soon.

That said, this is a reality for European iPad owners: While there are still plenty of small advantages computers still have over iPads, this change is another small step towards a future where Apple’s tablet can be most people’s all-in-one device.

New iPads are always fun, but arguably the best part of a product release is watching prices on older devices shrink. If you want a new iPad, but don’t want to pay new iPad prices, keep an eye on the prices for these iPads post-Apple event:

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply