Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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.

13 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I keep pointing this out to people who talk about virtualizing macOS on iPad that they haven’t really thought through the user experience issues that this will create.

I actually think Apple should let people do so, it actors to the niche of a niche that actually want it but lets not pretend this would actually be pleasant to use.

Earlier in Snells post he talks about how he loves ripping the screen off the keyboard. Here he talks about allowing macOS virtualized when connected to a keyboard and mouse. I think that killing the macOS Vm when you pull it off of the Magic Keyboard would be a bad user experience because it would kill your flow. Having it remain active however is also bad because now you have an OS that you can’t actually use while undocked. Trying to keep the apps synched across the two systems would work for file state but not app state. Very few apps support continuity well enough to make a seamless transition between the OS’s possible and for heavier apps like FinalCut and Xcode (which is the whole point of allowing something like macOS) it would be really tough to get state and data sync correct. If they do the work to ensure you can edit the same file on iPadOS anyway it also defeats the purpose of doing this whole macOS on iPad experiment.

People want this because they haven’t considered how it would actually suck to use in practice.

HN commenter notes:
> The 256gb and 512gb models have 8gb of ram. The 1tb and 2tb models have 16gb.

I read this as the 2024 refresh of MacBook Airs and iMacs will likely have a gimped 8 GB of RAM.

@Amonduin: I'm not sure how that would work either. It should be easy enough, technically, to run a virtual machine of some kind, and you could give it 8 or maybe even 12 GB of memory. I guess it could be suspended and swapped out when not in use. And mapping to filesystems/networks/etc. could be done as part of the VM configuration. This is all pretty standard stuff for virtual machines. But the bigger questions are what would the user experience be like, and how do you handle those transitions between using the VM and not?

Personally, I'd just prefer to have actual macOS on the iPad *shrug* I don't see why there need to be a complication with virtualising. iOS / iPadOS is the worst thing about that iPad.

Microsoft seems to make it work on Surface with a tablet-oriented UI when used as a tablet, and a desktop-oriented UI when plugged into a docking station, with external displays etc.


The Surface does not have a transforming UI as far as I’m aware, and MS has nearly a decade of working on making Windows work with touch and finger sized pointing devices. However, most reviews still rate the iPad higher for pure tablet usability. As far as I am aware most windows users don’t use their devices in pure tablet mode as often as iPad users do. This gets to the heart of what the iPad is supposed to be, a tablet. The iPad is already Apple’s most flexible platform in terms of out-of-the box input capabilities and transform-ability.

If iPadOS was so bad it wouldn’t have the user satisfaction scores it does. This is because most people who buy an iPad don’t do so thinking that it is a Mac. People who want macOS on iPad are a tiny minority of a minority who are, unfortunately, still a large part of Apple’s vocal online enthusiast community. Besides, iPadOS is not the worst thing about iPad, that would be Apple’s ridiculous pricing and configuration strategy.

There are problems with iPadOS but they aren’t insurmountable..Solving the problem with stage manager means Apple needs to be humble and admit that stacking windows in the multitasking switcher is bad UX, that organizing app windows by stage and letting people drag and drop (like Mission Control) is a good thing. That not trying to reinvent the wheel (Mission Control) to solve the same problem that has already been solved is just fine. Not everything needs to be a fancy new thing designed to get someone a promotion or bonus.

The iPad should be continually evolved to give it more capabilities but that doesn’t mean making it into macOS with all of the attendant UI issues. It means taking the world class user experience you get with iPad and enhancing it with more of the capabilities you get with macOS (such as better background processing, better file system architecture, etc…)

Some of the system UI transforms in Windows when going from desktop to tablet, like the task bar, and window controls.

Old Unix Geek

Odd that Ipads get M4's before Macs. You'd think Macs would need more CPU...


Apple: Behold the vision pro, the future of computing!

Jason Snell: I've used my analytical insights to conclude that Apple don't see the iPad as the future of computing!

> I had a strong negative reaction to this ad.


Maybe also not the best ad when there are articles currently pointing at Apple's greenwashing:


I had the same reaction to the ad during the event, but convinced myself that surely it was all just very good CG instead of asshattery.

Old Unix Geek

Apple: "We crush everything you love!"

It's an honest ad.

Old Unix Geek

To be fair to Apple, it's also pretty much every large corporation's modus vivendi: take the nice stuff others produced, and convert it into "a product" which makes a lot of money, regardless of the consequences.

E.g. OpenAI and the world's books, newspapers, and now Stack Overflow. Microsoft's copilot and opensource software. Spotify and the world's music. Or Hollywood and their accounting. Or pharma companies taking traditional remedies, extracting the active ingredients and patenting them. Or logging companies converting old growth forest into profits.

The corporate motto is "We came, we saw, we took." It's just the fact that Apple has so little self-awareness that they didn't even realize that it would cause a backlash that is surprising.

> "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 problem is, people are not free to choose what they want: Apple dictates it. If some people prefer the "guardrails", then that's good, let them have it so.

Others, should be able to opt-out (like how you can disable SiP in macOS, which most/average people don't even know it exists.)

Apple (or any other Big-Tech company), however, should not be permitted to dictate what we are and aren't allowed to do with our own hardware. It sounds much like how Dictatorial Regimes operate...

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