Archive for May 7, 2024

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Apple M4

Apple (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Built using second-generation 3-nanometer technology, M4 is a system on a chip (SoC) that advances the industry-leading power efficiency of Apple silicon and enables the incredibly thin design of iPad Pro. It also features an entirely new display engine to drive the stunning precision, color, and brightness of the breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display on iPad Pro. A new CPU has up to 10 cores, while the new 10-core GPU builds on the next-generation GPU architecture introduced in M3, and brings Dynamic Caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading to iPad for the first time. M4 has Apple’s fastest Neural Engine ever, capable of up to 38 trillion operations per second, which is faster than the neural processing unit of any AI PC today.


M4 has a new up-to-10-core CPU consisting of up to four performance cores and now six efficiency cores. The next-generation cores feature improved branch prediction, with wider decode and execution engines for the performance cores, and a deeper execution engine for the efficiency cores. And both types of cores also feature enhanced, next-generation ML accelerators.

M4 delivers up to 1.5x faster CPU performance over the powerful M2 in the previous iPad Pro.


M4 can deliver the same performance as M2 using just half the power. And compared with the latest PC chip in a thin and light laptop, M4 can deliver the same performance using just a fourth of the power.


Update (2024-05-08): Jason Snell:

Why the M4 now? It mostly has to do with Apple shifting chip production at TSMC (the company that fabs Apple’s chips) from the first-generation 3nm process to a new, more efficient second-generation 3nm process. There’s a whole backstory about TSMC’s change in 3nm processes that’s not worth getting into here, but suffice it to say that the first-generation process is largely a dead end, and the company is moving to a new set of 3nm processes.


As expected, the performance “gains” of the new M4 chip Apple is using in the new iPad Pros are mostly due to the N3e process. Apple advertises a “1.5x” speed gain: but they slyly compare the prior 8-core Pro M2 to the new 10-core Pro M4 (25% more performance cores, right off).

Update (2024-05-10): Omar Sohail (via Hacker News):

An early look at the M4’s performance did not deliver the best positive first impression because we believed that Apple lowered the clock speeds to achieve better efficiency. However, we are pleasantly surprised by the latest results, as Apple’s new SoC powering the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro models runs circles around the M2, handily beats M3, and zips past the M3 Pro and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite, which are two chipsets occupying a higher performance bracket.

Mark Tyson (Hacker News):

Apple's M4 processors have become convincing leaders in the Geekbench single-core leaderboard. Several scores of roughly 3,800 points have appeared in the Geekbench online database over recent hours. This is significant as single-core benchmark scores of this magnitude put clear blue water between the M4 and Intel’s flagship Core i9-14900KS. A little Geekbench database checking shows that, in single-threaded tests, Apple's M4 outpaces Intel's power-hungry desktop champ by about 16%.

Juli Clover:

Apple said that the M4 delivers up to 1.5x faster CPU performance than the M2 in the prior-generation iPad Pro, which is accurate based on the benchmarks we’ve seen so far.

Update (2024-05-16): See also: Hacker News and MacRumors.

Update (2024-05-28): Omar Sohail (via Hacker News):

While some might attribute these performance gains to Apple switching to TSMC’s second-generation 3nm process for the M4, various findings reveal that the company has switched to the ARMv9 architecture with this release.


They have not adopted ARMv9. This is still ARMv8, but with SME.

Final Cut Pro 2 and Logic Pro 2 for iPad

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 transforms iPad into a multicam production studio with Live Multicam, giving users the power to speed up their shoot by allowing them to connect and preview up to four cameras all at once, all in one place. To support Live Multicam, Final Cut Camera — an all-new video capture app — comes to iPhone and iPad, letting creators wirelessly connect and remotely direct each video angle with powerful pro controls. Final Cut Camera also works as a standalone professional video capture app on iPhone and iPad. External project support gives users the flexibility to edit projects directly from an external drive, leveraging the fast Thunderbolt connection of iPad Pro. Editing and finishing a project with Final Cut Pro on the new iPad Pro with the M4 chip is incredible, enabling users to color grade, apply multiple effects, and render graphically intense timelines even faster. Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 has even more customizable content for editing and creating unique projects, and leverages the advanced features of the all-new Apple Pencil Pro such as barrel roll and squeeze for Live Drawing.


On Mac, editors can take their professional workflow to the next level. Leveraging the Neural Engine in Apple silicon, new AI features and organizational tools come to Final Cut Pro 10.8. Available as a free update to existing users, Final Cut Pro 10.8 introduces Enhance Light and Color, offering the ability to improve color, color balance, contrast, and brightness in one simple step, and is optimized for SDR, HDR, RAW, and Log-encoded media. With Smooth Slo-Mo, frames of video are intelligently generated and blended together, providing the highest-quality movement and more drama to a project.

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple today unveiled the all-new Logic Pro for iPad 2 and Logic Pro for Mac 11, delivering breakthrough professional experiences for songwriting, beat-making, producing, and mixing. Powered by artificial intelligence, the new Logic Pro introduces incredible studio assistant features that augment the music-making process and provide artists help right when they need it — all while ensuring they maintain full creative control. These features include Session Players, which expand the popular Drummer capabilities in Logic Pro to include a new Bass Player and Keyboard Player; Stem Splitter, to extract and work with individual parts of a single audio recording; and ChromaGlow, to instantly add warmth to tracks.


Update (2024-05-10): Joe Rosensteel:

I’ll be interested to see if they release a BTS video in a few days that shows us how much of this was Final Cut Pro for iPad. At what point did they export the project files on that one-way trip to the Mac? How much did they render on the iPad?

Functionally, they still don’t match the desktop counterparts feature for feature.


The Final Cut Pro for iPad project file format continues to be incapable of round-tripping between a Mac and back to an iPad.

Update (2024-05-16): Juli Clover:

Apple today released an updated version of Logic Pro, introducing all of the new features that were previewed last week.

Update (2024-05-29): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Final Cut Pro for iPad has a dozen export options that range from ‘awful’, to ‘awful, and low-resolution’. It’s surprising just how bad the 4K HEVC footage it creates is; there’s no control over bitrate or number of passes or anything. And there’s no Compressor app on iPad to queue up multiple exports. Big thumbs down — if you want good quality video, you basically have to send it to a Mac first

Apple Pencil Pro

Apple (MacRumors):

A new sensor in the barrel can sense a user’s squeeze, bringing up a tool palette to quickly switch tools, line weights, and colors, all without interrupting the creative process. A custom haptic engine delivers a light tap that provides confirmation when users squeeze, use double-tap, or snap to a Smart Shape for a remarkably intuitive experience. A gyroscope allows users to roll Apple Pencil Pro for precise control of the tool they’re using. Rotating the barrel changes the orientation of shaped pen and brush tools, just like pen and paper. And with Apple Pencil hover, users can visualize the exact orientation of a tool before making a mark.

With these advanced features, Apple Pencil Pro allows users to bring their ideas to life in entirely new ways, and developers can also create their own custom interactions. Apple Pencil Pro brings support for Find My for the first time to Apple Pencil, helping users locate Apple Pencil Pro if misplaced. It pairs, charges, and is stored on the side of iPad Pro through a new magnetic interface.

This is really cool. I kind of wish Apple were doing more with Mac input devices. Magic Mouse could use more buttons and smarter gestures. I really liked using a stylus with a Wacom tablet back in the day.


Update (2024-05-08): Joe Rossignol:

Priced at $129, the Apple Pencil Pro is only compatible with the new iPad Pro and iPad Air models announced this week. The first-generation Apple Pencil, second-generation Apple Pencil, and lower-cost Apple Pencil with a USB-C port all remain available, making the Apple Pencil lineup more complex than ever for the time being.

Update (2024-05-10): Juli Clover:

There are some major changes that were introduced with the new accessory, including new gestures and capabilities.

Kirk McElhearn:

Apple now sells four different Apple Pencil models. It can be confusing to figure out which one works with your iPad. In this article, we will help you choose the right Apple Pencil for your iPad.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

There are some new docs from Apple to go with the new features enabled by Apple Pencil Pro — they’re well-written, and they have workable sample snippets with a SwiftUI/UIKit toggle.

Update (2024-05-17): Nick Heer:

In a video on Threads, Quinn Nelson shows how the Apple Pencil casts a tool-specific faux shadow on the surface of the page. I love this sort of thing — a detail like this that, once you notice it, brings a little joy to whatever you are doing, whether that is creating art or just taking notes.

iPad Pro (M4, 7th Generation)

Apple (MacRumors, keyboard, Hacker News, Slashdot):

Available in silver and space black finishes, the new iPad Pro comes in two sizes: an expansive 13-inch model and a super-portable 11-inch model. Both sizes feature the world’s most advanced display — a new breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display with state-of-the-art tandem OLED technology — providing a remarkable visual experience. The new iPad Pro is made possible with the new M4 chip, the next generation of Apple silicon, which delivers a huge leap in performance and capabilities. M4 features an entirely new display engine to enable the precision, color, and brightness of the Ultra Retina XDR display.


The new iPad Pro — the thinnest Apple product ever — features a stunningly thin and light design, taking portability to a whole new level. The 11-inch model is just 5.3 mm thin, and the 13-inch model is even thinner at a striking 5.1 mm, while both models are just as strong as the previous design. The 11-inch model weighs less than a pound, and the 13-inch model is nearly a quarter pound lighter than its predecessor — allowing pro users to extend their workflows in new ways and in more places.


For pro users working in high-end, color-managed workflows or challenging lighting conditions, a new nano-texture glass option comes to iPad Pro for the first time.


The new Magic Keyboard opens to the magical floating design that customers love, and now includes a function row for access to features like screen brightness and volume controls. It also has a gorgeous aluminum palm rest and larger trackpad that’s even more responsive with haptic feedback, so the entire experience feels just like using a MacBook.

The 1 TB and 2 TB models have 4 performance cores vs. 3, 16 GB of RAM vs. 8 GB, and the nano-texture glass option.

Jason Snell:

But over this same span, it’s become clear to me that Apple no longer views the iPad as the future of personal computing.


iPad Pro buyers already value the product for its flexibility. Imagine how much more flexible it would be if it could run macOS, virtualized, when connected to an external keyboard and trackpad. Apple’s first convertible device would be able to becomes a Mac when it needed to—and exit that mode when it doesn’t. Travelers could invest in the iPad Pro and all its accessories—at a price comparable to a MacBook Air, by the way—and know that they’re getting the best of Apple’s tablet experience and its traditional computer experience.

Not today.


Update (2024-05-08): Jason Snell:

As someone who uses a keyboard (and a USB microphone, I suppose) to make a living, I’m looking at $2177 for a mid-range 13-inch model with cellular, an Apple Pencil Pro, and a Magic Keyboard. That’s substantially more than I’d pay for a new MacBook Air, and while I know that I can’t use the MacBook Air as a thin and light touch tablet, I also can’t use my iPad Pro as a travel podcasting unit.

Dan Moren:

Still, purely from a price perspective, things do get more confusing now. Consider the comparison between the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air.

Tony Arnold:

Unless Apple is about to announce that you can choose to install macOS on iPads at WWDC (or a huge overhaul of iPadOS), the pricing of the new iPads is pretty wild.

Federico Viticci:

I had high expectations for the new generation of iPad Pros that Apple unveiled today – some of which were exceeded by reality (hardware), and others that were, regrettably but unsurprisingly, faced with the reality of the iPad platform (software).


The thinness and reduced weight of the big iPad Pro are making me question which model I want to use going forward. I went into this event knowing I’d get an 11” iPad Pro again, but after trying the new 13” in person, I’m not so sure anymore. It’s still a large tablet that’s not as portable as the small one, but the thinness and lightness of it are making reconsider my decision. I can’t get over how wildly thin and light the new 13” iPad Pro feels.


I don’t need to rehash why I think Apple is missing a huge opportunity by not embracing the iPad Pro as a machine that could do both iPadOS and macOS equally well in the same package.


I noticed another journalist struggling with opening the Magic Keyboard, and when I tried it, I experienced it myself. Since the edge of the keyboard is now flush aluminum without an inset “lip” like on MacBooks, it’s hard to know at first where you’re supposed to grab it.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

All of the counter-arguments for some form of macOS on iPad have fallen away over the past 14 years. The hardware is the same exact hardware that runs the Mac lineup. iPadOS is now a platform with keyboard, mouse and external display support. It already has a mode to shrink UI elements down dramatically beyond what would traditionally make for safe touch targets. Mac and iPad apps today share an awful lot of code, if not entire codebases, and it all transparently/freely syncs between devices.

Nick Lockwood:

for me the worst thing about trying to use an iOS device for any real work is the sense of my content feeling “trapped” in an app.

Craig Hockenberry:

Apple has had well over a decade to make a machine for pros.

Bolting a file system and windows onto iOS just isn’t cutting it both for users and developers. So yeah it’s time to admit to failure.

And lean into a device/software that can be flexible and get a multitude of jobs done. Time to abandon idealism and be pragmatic.

Eric Schwarz:

While I’m not opposed to new features in iPadOS, I think there are a lot of lot of tech pundits that need to retire the rhetoric that the iPad can’t replace their Mac and iPadOS is lacking.

Jeff Carlson:

Interesting that the iPad Pro lost a camera—now there’s just a single Wide rear-facing camera and no Ultra Wide camera. Maybe Apple internalized that iPad has never been a good camera device (even though I see people take photos with them often)? More likely just to cut costs, and because for video the better solution is to shoot with iPhone anyway (esp with the new Final Cut Camera app).

Tom Goodwin (via Niko Kitsakis, Scott):

If Samsung ever did this, people would destroy them.

Crushing things we love, things we played with, to produce an identical black box.

I think I get what they were going for, but I had a strong negative reaction to this ad.

Update (2024-05-10): John Gruber:

The thinness is noticeable in hand, but the reduction in weight is even more noticeable. Per Apple’s specs, the new 13-inch iPad Pro weighs 579g, down from 682g in the 2022 models. That’s a sounds-too-good-to-be-true 15 percent reduction. The weight reduction for the 11-inch iPad Pros is less dramatic: 444g, down from 466g in the previous generation.


In briefings yesterday, Apple reps emphasized, repeatedly, that these new iPad Pros could not have been built without the M4. The efficiency gains allowed Apple to make them remarkably thin and light, and more essentially, only the M4 has a display engine that can drive the new tandem OLED displays.


The only sore thumb in the entire iPad lineup is the iPad Mini, which, since it first appeared, has always been the least-frequently updated iPad.

Juli Clover:

We’ve rounded up some of the most notable changes worth considering when deciding rather to upgrade.

Quinn Nelson:

New iPads are more powerful than ever: with M4 and the first-to-market tandem OLED display technology. But what does that mean? And why does it matter?

Joe Rosensteel:

To go through all that effort and the appeal of the new iPad Air is that it’s like an older iPad Pro, and that the iPad Pro is a thinner iPad Pro, is … well … underwhelming if the hardware wasn’t a primary concern for you before yesterday.


The consistent refrain before, and after the event is that Apple isn’t addressing the iPad software platform.

Christina Warren:

The problem with the iPad as as many have pointed out is that the software hampers what it can do unless you’re willing to contort yourself into a very specific workflow. For most casual users those limitations aren’t an issue and the advantages of the form factor outweigh the deficits. But when you charge MBPro money for a device the trade-offs sting. As @jsnell says, the best solution would be to just let us virtualize macOS on an iPad Pro when using it in certain modes.

Chris Welch (via John Gruber):

Sure enough, the Smart Keyboard Folio isn’t compatible with the OLED iPad Pros. The 11-inch version can still be used with the sixth-generation iPad Air, but that’s all. So if you’re set on Apple’s very best tablet, it’s not an option anymore. And with no alternative quite like it anywhere in sight, I’m bummed.


Update (2024-05-15): Jason Snell:

The design and power make me love the iPad Pro more than perhaps any other Apple product I own. This one’s even better. This is all good stuff. Unfortunately, I have to end this review the same way I’ve ended almost every iPad Pro review I’ve written: I wish iPadOS loved the iPad Pro as much as I do. We continue to live in a world where Apple’s most flexible, powerful, groundbreaking piece of hardware is let down by an inflexible, weak, and slow-to-be-upgraded operating system.

Samuel Axon:

Still, it remains unclear why most people would spend one, two, or even three thousand dollars on a tablet that, despite its amazing hardware, does less than a comparably priced laptop—or at least does it a little more awkwardly, even if it's impressively quick and has a gorgeous screen.


The iPad Pro is so much faster than most people need it to be—so loaded with expensive, cutting-edge technology—that it seems like it exists more for Apple to show off what it’s truly capable of than it does for most actual user needs.


The iPad Pro is an amazing device, and it’s a delight to use for some kinds of tasks. But despite continual refinement, the limitations of iPadOS compared to the flexibility (and better pro software support) of macOS mean I’m more excited about what these new developments might mean for future Macs than anything else.

Nick Heer:

The way I see it is simple: Apple does not appear to treat the iPad seriously. It has not been a priority for the company. Five years ago, it forked the operating system to create iPadOS, which seemed like it would be a meaningful change. And you can certainly point to plenty of things the iPad has gained which are distinct from its iPhone sibling. But we are fourteen years into this platform, and there are still so many obvious gaping holes.

See also: MacRumors.

Mark Gurman:

Fun fact: Every iPad Pro reviewer just copy pastes their 2015 model review and changes the date. It’s true. Nothing has changed.

See also: Sam Rowlands.


Update (2024-05-16): John Gruber (Mastodon):

That in broad strokes there exist two types of iPad user: (a) those for whom iPadOS, as it is, suits them well as their primary “big screen” personal computer; (b) those for whom an iPad, due to its very deliberate computing-as-an-appliance-style constraints, can only ever be a supplemental device to a Mac, Windows, or Linux “real” computer. Neither group needs a more powerful iPad, and so because of this, everyone — power-user nerds and typical users alike — tends to use iPads until they break, wear out, or age out of software support.


From this viewpoint, going from better (iPad Air) to best (iPad Pro) shouldn’t be about power and performance and the ability to use the device for any and all complex computing tasks, but instead about being just plain nicer. Like going from a Toyota to a Lexus.


These results don’t make much sense to me. The M2 iPad Pro and M2 MacBook Air perform nearly identically, but the M3 MacBook Air is quite a bit faster than the M4 iPad Pro, despite the above Geekbench results suggesting that the M4 ought to be 1.2× faster than the M3.


iPadOS is what it is. Whatever you (or I) think of it as a productivity platform, you’re a fool if you think it isn’t beloved by many. It’s popular, even for some “professional” use cases, not despite iPadOS’s guardrails but often because of them. Those guardrails feel limiting to me, often very much so, but those same guardrails are liberating to others. There is tremendous power in having a computer that is simple not merely by suggestion but by hard and fast technical constraints.

There’s something to this idea, but I think a good portion of the problems and limitations with iPadOS are not actually features in disguise. The background processing guardrail is anti-simplicity because you have to understand the model rather than having things just work. You can see what they were trying to do with simplifying the file system, but it’s really hard to argue that they’ve cracked the problem. Who really benefits from the impossibility of clipboard management and the unavailability of certain categories of apps and features? Apple itself doesn’t really embrace the powerful-because-it’s-simple narrative, instead treating simplicity as a feature rather than a tradeoff. I think Gruber is essentially right that Apple built a luxury car, but Apple is trying to sell it as a truck with added simplicity and touch.


Their marketing betrays what they actually make out of this device.

Update (2024-05-17): Benjamin Mayo (via John Gruber):

The new iPad Pro is here and the inevitable YouTube stress tests are already online. JerryRigEverything and AppleTrack posted their bend test videos, and both seemingly came to the same conclusion: the new iPad Pro holds up well to extreme force and seems pretty resistant to bending during normal use.

AppleTrack repeated the same bends with the M2 iPad Pro and the new M4 iPad Pro to compare, and whereas the M4 iPad Pro came away almost unscathed, the M2 iPad Pro had a definitive curl in the corner near the cameras. JerryRigEverything praised the device for its “black magic levels of structural integrity”, at least when bent horizontally.

Update (2024-05-20): MereCivilian:

Throughout my ownership of the 2018 iPad Pro, I never wished for it to be thinner. Instead, I would have preferred improvements in battery life. As the iPad ages, the degraded battery life becomes more frustrating. Apple only replaces the battery if its health is below 80%. Even then, they don’t replace the battery but provide a refurbished iPad Pro.

Helge Heß:

Why the new iPad Pro has an M4, IMO.

Update (2024-05-21): Shahram Mokhtari:

We’ve spent the past few days examining the new iPad Pro 13 and boy is it an impressive bit of technology. I don’t want to wax poetic about the user experience though, I’ll leave that to the tech reviewers. What I want to talk about is the hardware and the one major improvement in the iPad Pro’s repairability: The battery replacement experience.

Update (2024-05-28): Nicolas Magand:

The iPad can allow itself to be this powerful because some apps, some use cases require a lot of power. Apps like Procreate thrive on a touch interface, and they can utilise all the power of an iPad Pro with an M4 chip. Should these professionals be satisfied with a regular, slower iPad? They should not, so the iPad Pro makes a lot of sense for them, for Apple, and for the market.

For the rest of the regular experience — outside of pro apps, the iPad relies on simplicity, on a “straight-forwardness” that people appreciate about the iPad, especially if they believe that using a computer isn’t that different from using a phone. And just because the iPad Pro runs a desktop-class chip, doesn’t mean it has to do desktop-class things. Fast cars don’t have to all look like supercars.

M.G. Siegler:

What if the big debate about the iPad Pro running macOS really just boils down to being able to run the macOS version of Safari? Not for everyone of course. But many people, myself included, do about 90% of my work in a web browser. And the Safari browser on iPad has always behaved more like the Safari browser on iOS versus the version built for Macs. This is hardly a surprise – iPadOS itself came directly from iOS. But count me in the boat that Apple has this backwards.

iPad Air (6th Generation)

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced the redesigned 11-inch and all-new 13-inch iPad Air, supercharged by the M2 chip. Now available in two sizes for the first time, the 11-inch iPad Air is super-portable, and the 13-inch model provides an even larger display for more room to work, learn, and play. […] The front-facing Ultra Wide 12MP camera with Center Stage is now located along the landscape edge of iPad Air, which is perfect for video calls. It also includes faster Wi-Fi, and cellular models include super-fast 5G, so users can stay connected on the go. […] The new iPad Air is available in new blue and purple finishes, along with starlight and space gray. The 11-inch iPad Air still starts at just $599, and the 13-inch iPad Air is a fantastic value at just $799.

The base storage has increased to 128 GB. Why is this still called Air when it’s thicker and heavier than the Pro?


Update (2024-05-08): Jason Snell:

This time around, that’s been taken to an extreme: the 11- and new 13-inch iPad Air are identical in size to the old (2018-2022) iPad Pro models. Apple’s literally re-using those old models, with only some minor feature variations. There’s no Mini-LED HDR display on the 13-inch model as there was on the M1 and M2 versions, nor is there a Face ID sensor; if you want a keyboard, the 2020-era Magic Keyboard will suffice.


One disappointing note: Apple continues its trend of removing color from its products as they escalate in price. The iPad Air’s colors were subtle before, but they’re vanishingly distinguishable now. On Tuesday, I sat not two feet away from two iPad Airs in blue and purple, and, reader, I could not tell that they were not silver.

Hartley Charlton:

This breakdown also serves as a way to clearly see all the differences that the new iPad Air brings to the table.

Dan Moren:

Where Apple has de-muddied the lineup, though, is in the mid-range. Previously, once you went higher than the paltry base of 64GB storage on the iPad Air, you quickly got into entry-level iPad Pro territory, then forcing you to make a more complex decision between more capacity and more capability at around the same price point. Rather than the simplicity of a decision based around more storage for more money, customers instead had to weight the ability to store more photos vs. Face ID which…how do you even?

In the new lineup, that’s not really a problem. The base-level iPad Airs now boast an acceptable 128GB of storage and are still priced well below an iPad Pro. You’ve go to go up to the top-tier iPad Airs before you really start competing with base level iPad Pros—which is as it should be.

Update (2024-05-16): Juli Clover:

The new iPad Air is set to come out on Wednesday, May 15, and prior to launch, members of the media have shared their first iPad Air impressions.