Apple's iPad Pro revival will disrupt the success of the MacBook Pro

Updated April 28: Article originally published April 27.

As Apple prepares to launch a new iPad model after an eighteen-month gap, will the MacBook Pro lose out?

With the launch of the M1 Apple Silicon chip in 2020 and its subsequent inclusion in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, Apple disrupted not only its own laptop and desktop businesses, but also those of the competition. It kept up the pressure with the release of the M2, and only now, with the M3 iteration closing in on the competition, are we seeing the potential of ARM-based competitors pushed by Qulacomm's new Snapdragon X Elite.

However, Apple is about to take the public's attention away from the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The year of the Mac is over, long live the iPad.

Announcing its next live event on Tuesday, May 7, Apple has confirmed the launch of a new iPad and a new Apple Pencil through the artwork on the invitation. The iPad lineup has not seen any new products since October 2022. Two versions of the iPad Air are expected to be launched, a 10.9-inch version and a 12.9-inch version.

There are also two upgrades for the iPad Pro, with the move to OLED displays accidentally leaked by Apple.

Update: Sunday, April 28: An important upgrade appeared this weekend. Writing for Bloomberg NewsletterMark Gurman reports on the Apple Silicon that will go inside the new iPad Pro tablets. It won't be the M3 chips currently found in the consumer-focused MacBook Air and MacBook Pro; It's the next generation M4 chipset.

The M4 will have the normal spec bumps you see between annual chip upgrades, but it will have one key feature not found in the M3: artificial intelligence. Apple uses AI in many applications and processes (particularly image processing and predictive typing). However, it has lagged behind competing manufacturers shipping silicon with dedicated hardware to aid the AI ​​revolution.

With the M4 chipset, Apple can get its “large” devices into the AI ​​game alongside the “mobile” A18 chip that will debut with the iPhone 16 family next September. If the iPad Pro announced in May comes with an M4 chipset, it will be Apple's first AI-focused device, eclipsing the iPhone and the Mac family.

Apple has always emphasized the role of the iPad family as an alternative to the traditional computer. With a stylus, touchscreen, and keyboard, the iPad Pro can meet the basic needs of consumers who typically turn to the MacBook Air and Pro models. You will be limited to those apps that Apple deems safe to include in the iPad App Store. These will, in general, be simplified versions of the apps you can find on macOS; Good enough for social media, casual use, and office tools, but don't expect to be able to extend the iPad platform in the same way as the Mac platform.

With the new iPads finally arriving, you can expect Apple's PR team to focus on the devices over the next few months. The power of the iPad, the ability to do everything you need on the go, the power of the devices and apps that open it…

Apple hopes that pent-up demand for the new model will contribute to a successful sales period. It just has to undercut the MacBook's promise while doing so.

Now read the latest iPad, iPhone and Apple Vision Pro headlines in Forbes' weekly Apple digest…

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