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iPad line streamlining is proceeding according to Apple's secret plan

Apple's iPad Pro has many changes for 2024

Apple still has more plans for the iPad, and executives believe the new iPad Pro and iPad Air is getting the company close to its vision for the product line.

The updates to the iPad Pro and Air make the top-end of the tablet catalog faster and more capable than previous generations. With the iPad Pro, the physical changes and better display help make it an even more useful productivity device.

In a discussion with Fast Company, Apple SVP of worldwide marketing Greg Joswiak and SVP of hardware engineering John Ternus explained what prompted the tablet changes for 2024.

"We've always had this vision of an iPad being this magical sheet of glass that allows you to interact directly with your content," said Ternus. "And so, what we were excited to do with this new iPad Pro is push the boundaries of how thin and light we could go without compromise."

With the best display and performance, Apple does so without compromising elsewhere. "We haven't given up anything on battery life or durability, and we think that just makes the ultimate iPad experience," Ternus continued.

On the M4's creation, it was pointed out that rather it being a Mac processor repurposed for an iPad, it was made to work with the new Tandem OLED screen.

"Our chip team was able to build that controller into the road map," Joswiak offered. "And the place they could put it was the M4."

iPad messiness and simplification

One quietly discussed aim of the iPad launches was to try and clean up a fairly sloppy product catalog. For example, the core iPad was both the 9th-gen older-styled model and the tenth-gen modernized equivalent, with the latter now being the sole base iPad.

There was also complaints about Apple Pencil too, with there being three versions within the Apple catalog. After the launch, there's now just two.

According to Joswiak, "We simplified the lineup story, we simplified the Pencil story. Everything just got a lot cleaner"

To enable recharging of the Apple Pencil in the new iPad Pro while incorporating the landscape camera orientation, Ternus said Apple "had to come up with a completely new architecture."

"We actually reduced the size of the inductive charging solution— it's less than half the size of the previous version, so that we could colocate all those components together and make it work," Ternus explained.

Mac and iPad

On what an iPad actually is to the company, Joswiak says there's plenty of room for both iPad and Mac within Apple's personal computing vision.

"The fact is that the majority of Mac customers have an iPad, and they use them both," he said. "And a large proportion of iPad customers have a Mac, or even some of them have [Windows] PCs."

Joswiak added "You use the tool that makes the most sense for you at that time. They're two different tools."

When asked about the meaning of the term "Pro" being lost in Apple's product names and seen to be weaker than it did before, Ternus pushed back.

"There's a funny perception thing. Maybe it's Mac people with their notion of what professional is," he offers before pointing toward the work of the Procreate team and its use of the Apple Pencil Pro.

"There is no more professional drawing application in the world than Procreate— I mean, they're the lifeblood of artists," Ternus insisted.

Inbound AI

For the hot topic of AI work, and whether Apple is trying to get more credit for its existing usage within apps, Joswiak says that the company's teams have "been leaders in this area for quite some time."

"We've been building in neural engines since before the PC industry knew how to say neural,'" Joswiak continued. "And now, they're building in neural processing units, hoping to maybe get to 60%, in the next couple years, of the PCs that they sell being AI PCs..."

"All these iPads that we're introducing with this advanced Apple Silicon are quite capable AI PCs."