How the iPad Pro could benefit from an M1 caliber processor


Apart from the higher speed, of course. […]

While desktop speeds sound fantastic on a lightweight tablet, it’s also a bit over the top (c) Apple / IDG

In case you haven’t paid attention to the rumors, a new iPad Pro might just be a few weeks away. While it probably won’t get a new design, Apple is likely to bring a number of key changes, including a mini-LED display for OLED-like colors and energy efficiency, better cameras, and 5G support. But the real reason to choose to upgrade could be the processor.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the iPad Pro is said to be going with a faster processor. Although it’s been less than 12 months since it was updated, the iPad Pro is currently the second fastest tablet Apple makes behind the iPad Air, which puts Apple’s flagship tablet in the strange position of being slower and more expensive. A new processor will give the iPad Pro its rightful place at the top of the tablet class.

Though we expected the iPad Pro to get an A14X or Z like the old iPads, a new report suggests that Apple’s high-end tablet could get an even bigger speed boost than usual. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the processor in the upcoming iPad Pro will perform “on par with the M1 chip in the latest Macs,” meaning it will be insanely fast.

While desktop speeds sound fantastic on a lightweight tablet, it’s also a bit of an exaggeration. Any iPad Pro user will tell you the current chip is fast enough, and even iPads from a few years ago can run the latest apps and operating system with no problem. So why should Apple feel the need to upgrade the processor beyond what an A14X would be capable of? Here are five reasons.

We’re finally getting Apple Pro apps

For all the things the iPad Pro can do, there’s still a huge hole in it when it comes to pro-level apps, especially those that Apple makes in-house. Most importantly, Xcode isn’t available for iPadOS, which means developers need a Mac to develop iPad apps.

As it stands, Xcode is consuming a tremendous amount of resources and processing power beyond what an iPad can do. But with an M1 processor on board, Apple might be able to bring the developer platform to the iPad, a move that would instantly boost the tablet’s capabilities. And hopefully a tablet version of Final Cut Pro X wouldn’t be far away. With the Microsoft Surface capable of installing and running virtually any Windows app, it’s time the iPad got on par with the Mac.

A better multitasking system is on the way

To put it mildly, the iPad’s multitasking system isn’t particularly good. The navigation is confusing and confusing, gestures and typing are unintuitive, and the whole system doesn’t exactly make it easy to work in more than one app at the same time.

Multitasking on the iPad Pro isn’t nearly as effortless as it is on the Mac (c) Michael Simon / IDG

A new chip won’t solve these problems without rethinking the whole concept, but it will allow Apple to do multitasking in a more powerful way. With more power and resources available, the iPad Pro could become more Mac-like in navigation and multitasking to take advantage of the larger screen and touch-friendly interface. And now that it has trackpad support, Apple has a lot more options for multitasking, so we’d love to see iPadOS 15 bring some serious changes for the Pro.

The battery life finally lasts longer than 10 hours

It’s hard to believe, but since the original iPad hit the market, Apple’s tablets have been rated for “up to 10 hours of surfing the web over Wi-Fi or watching video”. But an M1 caliber chip could finally get it to 15 or even 20 hours, which would put it on par with the latest MacBooks and the iPhone 12 Pro. A more durable Pro would clearly stand out from the iPad Air and give Apple’s flagship tablet a feature that the other models don’t have.

Mac apps are coming to the iPad

With the introduction of Big Sur and the M1 chip, Apple pioneered Catalyst with an optimized interface and native resolution on the Mac so that iPad apps no longer feel like they are for a mobile device on the desktop been made.

With a trackpad, the iPad Pro could now run Mac apps without any problems (c) Leif Johnson / IDG

After all, with an M1 caliber chip, Catalyst could work both ways. The iPad screen is perfect for Mac apps, and with a desktop-caliber processor, app developers wouldn’t have to worry about performance and storage issues. So instead of thinking backwards and bringing mobile-oriented apps to a much more powerful device, Mac developers could reach a whole new audience and open up new ways to use and interact with their apps. It will take new frameworks and APIs to get going, but with WWDC around the corner, Apple may have some new tools up its sleeve.

A hybrid device is in the works

Apple is always a few steps ahead of what we can actually buy. So a more powerful chip in the iPad Pro could be a harbinger of what’s to come. It only makes sense that at some point a hybrid machine will make its debut that combines the best of both worlds: speed, versatility, portability. An M1-like processor in the iPad would tick the most important box and give Apple a platform to develop a device that doesn’t have to cut corners or compromise. In a few years, we may see the iPad Pro 2021 in a completely different light.

*Michael Simon covers all things iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, with a little Android thrown in. You can usually find him with his nose buried in a screen.

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iPad Pro benefit caliber processor


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