As M4 iPad Pro arrives, Joz sets the record straight: ‘tablets suck, and iPads don’t’ – 9to5Mac

Happy M4 iPad Pro launch day! Whether you’re picking one up for yourself or dreaming about which configuration you’d order, there’s plenty of M4 iPad Pro material to go around this week.

The latest insight into Apple’s vision for the iPad is included in an Apple exec interview by Harry McCracken for Fast Company. John Ternus and Greg Joswiak, or “Joz,” talk M4, AI, OLED, and what makes the iPad a “Pro” machine.

Real talk

Perhaps the best and most clarifying line in the piece comes in a parenthetical comment from Joz:

(“I hesitate to call it a tablet, because tablets suck, and iPads don’t,” clarifies Joswiak.)

10/10, no notes.

M4 power

Apple’s M4 chip is interesting for two reasons. For starters, it’s the first M-series chip to debut in an iPad instead of a Mac. Apple previously put M1 and M2 chips inside iPads, but only after they premiered inside a Mac.

Apple also points to the M4 is the building block needed to drive the new iPad Pro’s tandem OLED display, another first for any Apple product. Joz describes the process for incorporating the new display controller into Apple silicon:

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

Meanwhile, Ternus provides the general pitch on what M4 does for the iPad Pro line:

“We’ve always had this vision of an iPad being this magical sheet of glass that allows you to interact directly with your content,” Ternus told me. “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. We have the best display we’ve ever put into an iPad. We have the best performance we’ve ever put into iPad. We haven’t given up anything on battery life or durability, and we think that just makes the ultimate iPad experience.”

Apple Pencil Pro

The M4 iPad Pro also debuts with a new suite of accessories to take it further. A new aluminum Magic Keyboard with function keys and a larger trackpad is now available, and the more advanced Apple Pencil Pro is along for the ride as well.

Apple moved the M4 iPad Pro front-facing camera from the top portrait side to the top landscape side. When Apple first made this change with the iPad 10 in 2022, everyone was curious how Apple could do the same thing for the iPad Pro since the Apple Pencil charges in that spot. Rather than move charging to another side, Apple reengineered how Apple Pencil Pro charges instead.

“We had to come up with a completely new architecture,” Ternus says. “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.”

Joz also says in the piece that Apple “simplified the Pencil story,” although I’d argue that phasing out the original Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil 2 will need to happen for that to be completely accurate.

AI and the Mac

Finally, the piece includes some insight into AI, the Mac, and what Apple thinks makes this M4 iPad worthy of Pro. From Joz:

“The fact is that the majority of Mac customers have an iPad, and they use them both,” he says. “And a large proportion of iPad customers have a Mac, or even some of them have [Windows] PCs. You use the tool that makes the most sense for you at that time. They’re two different tools.”

The argument for using both a Mac and an iPad for different tasks isn’t new, but I’m struck by the declaration that a majority of Mac buyers also own an iPad.

That’s a nice data point against the either/or argument. It would be interesting to know the data behind the breakdown of models, though. For example, do customers with older Macs have more high-end iPads? Do desktop Mac customers use mid-tier iPads for mobile use? That would be fun to see.

On the subject of Pro-ness, Ternus has this to say:

But Ternus also pushes back on the notion that the iPad Pro is less than “pro”—a term, he says, that isn’t defined by the Mac.

“There’s a funny perception thing,” he says. “Maybe it’s Mac people with their notion of what professional is. You saw what the Procreate team has done with Apple Pencil Pro. There is no more professional drawing application in the world than Procreate—I mean, they’re the lifeblood of artists.”

Indeed, features like touch input, Apple Pencil input, and built-in 5G make iPads distinct from Macs to this day—even if there’s a large crossover of tasks that can be completed on either platform.

And on AI, well, we know the software story will come in a few weeks at WWDC. In the meantime, Apple is leaning on its long history of incorporating neural engines as part of both Apple silicon products and even Intel Macs for years:

I think we have been leaders in this area for quite some time,” says Joswiak, noting that AI was at the heart of “proactive” Siri features that debuted way back in 2015. “I think ‘credit’ maybe is the wrong word. But [we’re] just maybe giving customers the comfort of ‘Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing here.’”

“We’ve been building in neural engines since before the PC industry knew how to say ‘neural,’” says Joswiak. “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.”

You can read the full piece on Fast Company. For more on the new M4 iPad Pro, check out our initial review roundup, John Gruber’s slightly-after-the-embargo-lift-by-a-day-or-so review, and stay tuned for more M4 iPad Pro coverage from 9to5Mac as we start to get our hands on the new hardware!

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