M1 chip and Thunderbolt come to Apple's 11-inch iPad Pro

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The lines between Mac and iPad were further blurred on Tuesday, as Apple announced a next-generation iPad Pro lineup featuring the same M1 chip found in the new iMac, as well as the MacBook Pro, Mac mini and MacBook Air.

The new iPad Pro is "the fastest device of its kind — it's not even close," Apple said in unveiling the new tablet at its "Spring Forward" event. In addition to the M1 chip, the iPad Pro also has a Thunderbolt port capable of USB-4, bringing it in line with the latest Macs.

The iPad Pro has also been upgraded with more storage, offering buyers a 2-terabyte configuration and storage that is twice as fast.

Apple has also added 5G connectivity to the cellular version of the iPad Pro, matching the blazing fast next-generation data introduced last year with the iPhone 12.

Apple says that with the M1 chip, the iPad Pro boasts graphics that are 40 percent faster than the last-generation model. In fact, Apple says the M1 makes the new iPad Pro 1,500 times faster than the first iPad released more than a decade ago.

The forward facing camera system has also been upgraded to a 12-megapixel sensor with a 120-degree field of view. This allows a new feature called "Center Stage," which recognizes a user and keeps them in the center of the view. The system automatically pans around and follows users while on a FaceTime call.

The 11-inch iPad Pro features the same LCD Retina display as its predecessor. That's different from the 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which gains a new mini LED Liquid Retina XDR display, offering greater contrast and improved battery life over legacy LCD technology.

Apple last updated its iPad Pro lineup in March of 2020, offering buyers a minor spec bump with an A12Z Bionic processor adding one additional GPU core over the A12X CPU that launched in 2018. The 2020 iPad Pro also added Wi-Fi 6, larger entry-level storage of 128 gigabytes, and a revamped camera system featuring a LiDAR scanner for improved augmented reality capabilities.