New iPads? Pencilling in what to expect at Apple's Let Loose event

iPad Airs and iPad Pros, plus a refreshed Pencil, are to headline event leading up to the WWDC

The last high-end Apple Pencil was released nearly six years ago. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Apple is holding a special event today, when it is expected to introduce a new iPad line-up – and this time the company is not so subtly teasing it.

The iPhone-maker has been famous for sending out event logos with cryptic messaging, leaving people to speculate on what is bound to be revealed.

That isn't the case for the Let Loose event, whose logo clearly references the Apple Pencil, the Robin to the iPad's Batman.

Here's what we can expect at what is anticipated to be an iPad-centric event, and in the lead-up to June's Worldwide Developers Conference.

How can you watch Let Loose?

Let Loose will be held today, May 7, at 7am Pacific time, which is 6pm in the UAE. It will not be an in-person event – it is a recorded presentation, a method Apple has now used on a regular basis, particularly after the pandemic.

There are a number of options for which you can watch the presentation, including on Apple's website, the Apple TV app, or on YouTube Live.

The lengths of Apple's events have always varied, but, given this isn't a launch with the scope of an iPhone debut, we can safely assume that it would run for about an hour (maybe just more than half an hour), and definitely not exceeding two (last year's Worldwide Developers Conference presentation went past two hours).

Select members of the media have been invited to London and New York for a first look at the devices.

What will Apple unveil?

It's an all but foregone conclusion that Apple will be unveiling iPads, and two of its four models will be in the spotlight – the iPad Air and the iPad Pro.

But, to provide important context ahead of anything else, one thing to note is that Apple is expected to use its latest M4 silicon chip on the new tablets.

That would also mark a quick transition from the M3, which was released only in October, or just more than six months. The time between the M3 and the M2 was 16 months, and it took even more than that for the M2 to be introduced after the M1.

The iPad Air is currently in its fifth generation, introduced more than two years ago. It uses the original M1, which itself is nearly four years old.

Two models are expected – the standard 10.9-inch and, for the first time, a larger 12.9-inch version to match the iPad Pro. Both are likely to use the M2 chip.

The would-be seventh-generation iPad Pro, meanwhile, will retain its 11-inch and 12.9-inch options, but with one key difference – OLED screens.

This will be the first time iPads will use organic light-emitting diodes, which have been used in iPhones since 2017's iPhone X. OLED allows better image quality and, crucially, slimmer designs, so thinner iPad Pros could be on the horizon.

The potential drawback of this, however, is that OLED panels are more expensive, so we might see some price increases.

However, given the pattern Apple has used over the years on product pricing, it may also be a welcome surprise if the company either marginally increases the prices or they stay put altogether.

There is no word if we will also be getting an 11th-generation iPad or a seventh-generation iPad Mini.

Pencil (and key?) this in

As depicted in the Let Loose logo, the Apple Pencil would seem to get the most attention.

It is expected that Apple will introduce haptic feedback on its iPad-specific stylus, which means users will feel vibrations for certain Pencil actions. There is speculation that a squeeze feature will be added to perform certain tasks.

And if there's any Apple product that needs a refresh, it's the Pencil. The original was introduced in 2015 and it took more than three years to release a second-generation Pencil. From that point, it would be nearly six years before a new, top-end Pencil is released. Of course, that's not counting the entry-level, USB-C Pencil that was launched in October.

As for other accessories, a Magic Keyboard, which would also double as a protective case, is also expected, according to Bloomberg. It would use aluminium and be more durable to address user complaints that it wears off after just several months of use.

Anything on generative AI?

This could be the reason why the M3 was short-lived: the M4 chip is expected to come with Apple's enhanced artificial intelligence features.

It is, however, unclear how much of a splash Apple will make on generative AI. We'll have to wait one more month – at the WWDC – for Apple's much-hyped announcement when it comes to the technology.

Unboxing the new MacBook Air with M3 chip

Unboxing the new MacBook Air with M3 chip

Chief executive Tim Cook did announce plans for the emerging technology in February during an annual shareholder meeting, but without giving any specific timetable.

The WWDC, which runs from June 10 to 14, would be the ideal opportunity for Apple to throw its hat into the generative AI race.

Mr Cook had made no secret about Apple's present strategy, acknowledging that the tech company was “currently investing significantly in this area”.

“We believe that will unlock transformative opportunities for users when it comes to productivity, problem-solving and more,” he said at the time.

However, the biggest hint that AI will be front and centre at the event came from Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, whose March 26 post on X said the event was “going to be Absolutely Incredible” – with emphasis placed on the upper case “A” and “I”.

Updated: May 07, 2024, 8:35 AM