Well, the reviews are in: The iPad Pro with M1 processor is bright, smooth and snappy… but that’s about it. There isn’t anything the new iPad can do that the older ones can’t, so why would anyone buy it? If you don’t have an iPad, getting this one would be the most future-proof option but for those who already own one, better to wait until iPadOS 15 is announced.
A lot hinges on Apple’s changes to the upcoming operating system. There are many features users would like to see: A better files app, updates to the home-screen and iPad version pro-level apps like Final Cut, but history has show that Apple rarely makes a move based on user demands alone. We may see only minor, superficial additions. When was the last time you used Memojis? How about ARKit’s Augmented Reality features? And while Dark mode and improvements to the integrated apps were welcome (and in some cases sorely needed), none of those kinds of updates would make great use of the M1 chip.
Apple’s also been working hard to develop their subscriptions business. iOS/iPadOS 14.5 added podcast subscription functionality for content creators so they can monetize their content, and they updated the News app to be more personal. Along with the industry-shaking new requirement that apps ask permission to track users, Apple could be moving in a direction that creates a social-media playground inside of their walled garden to further separate their user base from Google, Facebook and others. These changes are taking up a lot of Apple’s time and effort and may come at the expense of real power features that would make the new iPad Pro shine.
Apple also seems conflicted on just how much of a laptop-killer it wants to make the iPad. Remember the “What’s a computer” ad? On the one hand, we see their stubborn refusal to put touch control and Apple Pencil support onto MacBooks, suggesting they want tablets and laptops in separate categories. On the other hand, they went out of their way to add mouse support and created a sturdy, $300 keyboard case that makes typing on an iPad easier and much more laptop-like. Apple has shown that they’re not afraid to cannibalize sales of their own products and since both MacBooks and iPads now have the same processor it’s all going to come down to software if they make the choice to have iPads to gobble up some MacBook sales.
The answer to these questions comes on June 7th when Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) will be held. Along with iPadOS 15, the next versions of iOS, Mac OS and TvOS will be revealed. There may be other product lines to be announced as well. Rumors about Apple AR glasses and a VR headset have been swirling and the Apple Car has been an open secret for some time now. GlassesOS? VROS? CarOS? That’s a lot of OS! Only time will tell if iPadOS will get enough love to make the new iPad all that it can be.