4 biggest iPad announcements at Apple’s Let Loose event

Apple iPad 2024 announcements

More than just incremental upgrades, Apple well and truly let loose at its iPad launch event overnight. New Pro models, an upgraded Air, and even an entirely new chip made headlines as part of a huge shakeup to the company’s tablet range.

Livestreamed during the late hours in Australia, Apple’s Let Loose event featured many of the upgrades widely tipped by industry reporters ahead of time.

Let’s dive into the biggest announcements.

iPad Pro goes OLED, takes on AI PCs

Labelled the “biggest update ever” to Apple’s premium tablets, the new 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro models now have crisp OLED displays. Not just any OLED either. Called “Ultra Retina XDR”, it involves layering two OLED panels together, designed to generate a brighter image.

It’s the most visibly obvious change but far from the most substantial. This year’s iPad Pros run on the all-new M4 system on a chip (SOC), with boosted performance across the board. Jumping straight from the M2 to the M4 is a sizable leap, including faster CPU, GPU and Neural Engine performance.

They’re expensive, though, starting at $1,699 for the 11-inch model. Apple is really pushing for its top-end tablets to be laptop replacements based on the specs and prices on show.

Apple reveals big AI boost with M4 chip

Without wanting to bury the lede too much, Apple casually revealed its powerful new M4 chipset. Mac computers have usually been the devices to debut a new chip, so the iPad Pro is something of a first in multiple ways.

Building on the improved graphics architecture of the M3 chip, the M4 steps up further. It has more transistors and CPU cores, and its neural processing unit is substantially faster. Apple focused on this latter point a lot when discussing the iPad Pro, ready to take on the trend of AI PCs.

Apple Logic Pro iPad 2 update
Image: supplied.

Not many local AI instances are widely available yet. WWDC in June is expected to be the time and place Apple will go big on AI. In the meantime, big updates to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro add some AI features like video background removal and dynamic music backing sessions.

iPad Air now comes in two sizes with a faster chip

While not as drastic a leap as the Pro model, the mid-range iPad Air still benefitted from a decent upgrade. It now runs on the M2 chip, up from the 5th Gen model’s M1, and comes in two sizes: 11 inches and 13 inches.

Apple iPad Air M2 launch
Image: supplied.

Most of the iPad Air improvements are internal, except for the changed front camera location. It now sits on the landscape edge, a more natural position for making video calls. Other than the faster processor, the 2024 Air tablets get the speedier Wi-Fi 6E standard, adding a 6GHz network band for quicker downloads.

It also isn’t much more expensive than the 2022 model, suggesting it’s still complementary to a laptop instead of replacing it entirely.

More precise Apple Pencil Pro, new accessories

To cap off the iPad reveals, Apple also announced the Pencil Pro, an upgraded version of its stylus peripheral. Equipped with a sensor that responds to a squeeze, it brings up a quick menu where you can swap between different brushes, line weights, and other tools with minimal effort.

It also has a built-in gyroscope capable of detecting different angles. If you roll the Apple Pencil Pro like a real pencil or brush, it adjusts the output accordingly to replicate real-life movements.

Apple Magic Keyboard iPad Pro 2024
Image: Apple.

Find My comes to the Apple Pencil Pro, a first for the Pencil range. Next time you misplace the stylus, you can track it precisely using another device. Not a moment too soon, either, because small accessories are extremely easy to misplace.

Unfortunately, the Apple Pencil Pro is exclusively compatible with the M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air tablets. So, if you really want to use the upgraded stylus, it comes at the added cost of a new tablet.

And speaking of costly, the new Magic Keyboard got some nice upgrades, like a function row and a larger trackpad, but it starts at $499.

That just about sums up the biggest announcements at Apple’s Let Loose event. Although very tablet-centric, as expected, much of the news has wider implications, like the M4 chip reveal.

With WWDC just around the corner, expect many new features to come to these iPads and more soon.

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