Is It an iPad or a MacBook? Apple Makes It Tough to Tell By Revealing a 13-Inch iPad Pro With 'Outrageously Powerful' M4 Chip for AI


Apple started its Tuesday iPad event with an accomplishment related to another one of its product lines: The MacBook Air, which the company claimed was the world’s bestselling 13-inch and 15-inch laptop.

When Apple began announcing the new iPad Air and Pro, it was easy to tell why the tech giant led with the MacBook win: The new iPad models are larger, more powerful, and more MacBook-like than ever.

The iPad Air Gets a Bigger Screen

The iPad Air upgraded to a 13-inch screen for the first time and runs on the M2 chip, which has AI features. For example, the ML Enhance tool in the Photomator app uses AI models trained on 20 million pro images to improve photos, according to Melody Kuna, director of iPad product design.

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iPad Air. Credit: Apple

The front-facing camera resembles a laptop more than an iPhone now, moving from the vertical side of the iPad Air to the horizontal side.

1715095663 Apple iPad Air landscape front facing camera 2405071715098075 ApplehorizontaliPadcameraHorizontal camera for Zoom calls. Credit: Apple

The iPad Air’s storage starts double what it used to, at 128 GB. The price is still $599 for the 11-inch Air and $799 for the new 13-inch model.

The iPad Pro Gets a New M4 AI Chip

The iPad Pro has many of the same changes as the Air, with a new 13-inch version and a horizontal front-facing camera. It uses an all-new M4 chip, which Apple vice president of platform architecture Tim Millet called an “outrageously powerful chip for AI.

“The neural engine in M4 is more powerful than any neural processing unit in any neural processing unit in any AI PC today,” Millet said, stating that M4 had the same performance as M2 with half the power.

Related: Apple Is Reportedly in Negotiations to Build Google’s Gemini AI Into iPhone Features

M4 also offers the same performance as a processing chip in a PC but uses a quarter of the power, Millet said.

Apple emphasized the new iPad Pro’s sleekness and said it was the thinnest Apple product ever, thinner than even the iPod nano. The 11-inch model is 5.3 mm thin and the 13-inch model is 5.1 mm.

1715095899 Apple iPad Pro thin profile 240507iPad Pro sleekness. Credit: Apple

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 and the 13-inch starts at $1,299. The new iPad lines are available to order now for shipment next week.

The Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Get Haptic Feedback

New accessories also made an appearance, with upgrades to the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil still pairs, charges, and stores magnetically, but now users can squeeze the pencil to activate shortcuts.

The Magic Keyboard has a new control panel at the top, with options to control screen brightness and other aspects of the iPad, and a bigger trackpad with haptic feedback.

“So the entire experience feels just like using a MacBook,” said John Ternus, Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering.

The same users that “are loving” the MacBook Air, as Apple CEO Tim Cook put it at the event, could also love the new iPads that resemble it in screen size and power.

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Apple’s new Magic Keyboard with added control panel at the top. Credit: Apple

An uptick in interest in iPads would serve the company: iPad shipments dropped 30% last year; Apple last released a new iPad Air in 2022.

Related: Here’s the First Picture of Apple’s New Device That Updates iPhones While They’re Still in the Box

Apple will host another event next month, the Worldwide Developers Conference.



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