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New iPad Air, Pro, M4 and more: Apple’s Let Loose event roundup

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Apple announced some major updates to the iPad, as well as some new accessories and software enhancements, at its April 7 event, “Let Loose.” There’s a new 13-inch iPad Air in the mix, now equipped with the M2 chip. For those requiring more horsepower, the company has also updated its iPad Pros with an OLED screen, the thinnest-ever design. It also comes with the latest Apple silicon, the M4.

Regarding accessories, a new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro will soon appear on store shelves. The new keyboard isn’t anything special, aside from getting a function row, an aluminium wristrest, and haptic feedback for the touchpad. As for the new Apple Pencil Pro, it supports Apple’s Find My network and comes with haptic feedback and some pretty sweet gesture controls, such as roll to change brushes and squeeze to change layers.

Significant updates to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad have been made to help users take advantage of the new, more powerful iPad Pro. iPad users with up to four iPhones or iPads can now sync them together for a multicam setup controlled directly from an iPad running Final Cut Pro, allowing users to direct and produce multi-cam videos on the fly. As for Logic Pro, new AI features supposedly make music creation easier.

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A bigger iPad Air

The iPad Air has been introduced in a new size, 13 inches, and has been upgraded to the M2 chip. Apple has also upgraded its smaller, 11-inch sibling to the M2 chip. These updated iPad Airs start at 128GB of storage, which is double what the previous 2022 model got, and have the front camera centred along the horizontal edge.

There’s now a 13-inch iPad Air on offer. | Source: Apple

Apart from these changes, the iPad Air remains identical. The front and rear cameras are still 12MP; it still uses touch ID and the same stereo speaker setup as you’d find on the 2022 models. It seems that Apple wanted consumers to get a bigger screen without paying a premium for the Pro lineup. Apple has also dropped its 10th generation iPad to $345, meaning there are more options than ever if you want to get into iPads.

The 11-inch iPad Air starts at $599, and the 13-inch variant at $799. These iPads also support the new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro alongwith the Apple Pencil hover feature — previously exclusive to the iPad Pro lineup. They’re available starting May 7 on Apple’s website.

iPad Pro now has the best Apple chip

The event’s main attraction was the iPad Pro. The updated iPad Pro has an M4 chip and a major display upgrade. The company retained the 11 and 13-inch screen sizes but has thinned the tablets down further.

Both iPad Pros now get an OLED display. Apple uses a tandem OLED structure, enabling a peak brightness of 1,000 nits and 1,600 nits for HDR content. An optional nano-texture coating is also available for those who prefer a matt finish to their displays.

The 2024 iPad Pro gets an OLED screen and the M4 chip. | Source: Apple

OLED displays are a huge deal for the iPad Pro as it means that both the 11 and 13-inch variants will now offer identical display performance compared to the previous generation, where the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro came with a Mini LED display, outperforming its smaller counterpart.

As for the power it packs, there were rumours afloat that Apple would skip the M3 chip altogether when updating the iPad Pro, but the M4 debuting in an iPad was not my 2024 bingo card. Regardless, Apple claims that the new M4-powered iPad Pros are 50 percent faster than their previous-gen M2-powered counterparts and deliver the same performance as M2 in just half the power. Thermal performance has also been claimed to improve by up to 20 percent.

The cameras aren’t anything to write home about, though. You get a 12MP camera on the front and back. The front camera is along the horizontal edge and supports the Center Stage. As for connectivity, there’s Thunderbolt and USB 4 support thanks to the Type-C port on board that allows external display connectivity. You also get WiFi 6E and 5G connectivity, provided you’re okay with an e-SIM.

These are the thinnest and most powerful iPad Pros so far. | Source: Apple

Orders can be placed on Apple’s website starting May 7, with store availability expected on May 15. The 11-inch iPad Pro with M4 starts at $999 for WiFi and $1,199 for WiFi + Cellular. The 13-inch variant comes in at $1,299 for WiFi and $1,499 for WiFi + Cellular, so these new tablets are not for the faint-hearted. Add to that the cost of the new Magic Keyboard and/or Apple Pencil Pro, and you’re looking at a pretty hefty bill.

Apple’s M4 chip

The new M4 chip looks to be Apple’s strongest yet. In typical Apple fashion, no numbers have been provided, except comparisons with the 2022 M2-powered iPad Pro, but we do know that it features an “up-to-10-core CPU” consisting of four performance cores and six efficiency cores. The 10-core GPU brings hardware-accelerated ray tracing to the iPad for the first time, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading is also built-in.

The chip uses a 3nm process and focuses heavily on AI. Apple claims that the M4 is capable of 38 trillion operations per second (TOPS), which falls short of the Snapdragon X Elite’s claimed 45 TOPS. Apple claims that the M4 performs on par with the latest PC chips on only a quarter of the power.

Apple’s M4 Chip is heavily focussed on AI. | Source: Apple

Since the new chip has debuted in an iPad Pro, the only numbers Apple has given out are against the M2 chip in the 2022 iPad Pro variant. Namely, this new chip is 50 per cent faster in CPU and four times faster in GPU performance. There are also 120 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth and dynamic caching support.

With Windows gearing up for ARM laptops later this year, it’ll be interesting to see how Apple’s M4-powered Macbooks compete with Snapdragon’s X Elite processor-driven Windows laptops.

New Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro

As mentioned above, the updated Magic Keyboard has not much changed. You get a function row with controls like screen brightness and volume, an aluminum wrist rest, haptic support for the touchpad, and the usual USB-C charging port. It’s also thinner and lighter than the previous version, so your iPad-turned-Macbook won’t feel as bulky as before.

Look Ma! It’s a Macbook. | Source: Apple

The Apple Pencil Pro, however, is a different story. Aside from all the usual Apple Pencil features we’ve come to expect, the Apple Pencil Pro has a sensor in the barrel that can sense a user’s squeeze and bring up a tool palette, allowing for quick changes to tools, line weights, colours, and more.

There’s also a new custom haptic engine that provides feedback when the user squeezes, double-taps, or snaps to a smart shape in Procreate. Finally, the new pencil has a built-in gyroscope that allows users to roll the pencil for more control over the tool they’re using.

The Apple Pencil Pro comes with heaps of sensors. | Source: Apple

Last but not least, a new magnetic interface allows the pencil to charge, pair, and be stored with the new iPad Pro. And if you’re worrying about losing it, the new pencil also supports Apple’s Find My network.

All this functionality isn’t cheap, though. The Apple Pencil Pro is priced at $129, with the 11-inch Magic Keyboard at $299 and the 13-inch variant at an eye-watering $349.

Improvements to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro

Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad are getting new versions, with the bigger highlight being Final Cut Pro for iPad 2, available later in 2024. Thanks to a new app named Final Cut Camera, the Live Multicam feature allows your iPad to connect and control up to four iPhones or iPads wirelessly.

Users can control settings like white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure with monitoring tools, including overexposure indications and focus peaking. Final Cut Camera can also work as a standalone app.

Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 lets you produce and edit multicam clips straight from your iPad. | Source: Apple

Other features include creating or opening projects from external storage, meaning users can now edit videos on their iPad with an external drive connected and far more flexibility than before.

Logic Pro for iPad 2 will be available starting May 13 and brings AI-powered studio assistant features to help streamline the music-making process.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: yadullahabidi@pm.me.

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