Apple Forgot the iPad Last Year but That's About to Change

  • Apple didn’t release a single new iPad model, not even an update, in 2023.
  • 2024 might see new iPads Pro with bigger screens, a new pencil, and a new Mac-like keyboard case.
  • But the iPad still won’t replace the Mac for complex tasks.

Apple iPad Pro 2020 11″ and 12.9″.

Daniel Romero / Unplash

For the first time since its 2010 launch, Apple didn’t release a single new iPad model in 2023. But it looks like the company will more than make up for it in 2024.

2023 saw new Mac models, the announcement of the Vision Pro headset, and even a new USB-C Apple Pencil. But the iPads were absent. This year, the rumors point to a big catchup for Apple’s tablet. We expect new iPad Pros, maybe even a new bigger Pro model, and an aluminum replacement for the Magic Keyboard and trackpad, which will make the iPad work even more like a Mac. Let’s dig in. 

“The new keyboard accessory will be the big thing with these new iPads,” graphic designer and iPad expert Graham Bower told Lifewire in a DM.

iPad as an Afterthought

The iPad has always been on a kind of weird schedule, usually getting updated around every 18 months or so, but not always. And the individual lines also seem to get updated in a haphazard fashion. The current plain old non-suffix iPad, for example (released October 2022), has its front-facing camera on the long edge of the screen, making it much better for video calls than the more expensive Air and Pro models. 

iPad with Apple Pencil.

Alvaro Reyes / Unsplash

Hopefully, 2024 will be a year of realignment. The current lineup is confusing at best, with too little clear differentiation, feature-wise, between model lines. And even within those lines—for example, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro uses way better miniLED screen tech than the smaller but otherwise-identically-specced 11-inch model. 

And speaking of iPad Pro screen sizes, let’s get into the predictions. One of the most exciting rumors is that the iPad Pro will get a new, bigger version, presumably so that pro users like designers, videographers, and photographers can enjoy a much bigger workspace at the expense of a little portability. 

A 15-inch iPad with an OLED screen (OLED is another strong likelihood for the 2024 iPad Pro) would be a dream for graphic designers using the Apple Pencil, for example. 

Speaking of the Apple Pencil, we can look forward to the Apple Pencil 3, which may feature magnetically attached tips and come in black as well as white. 

Key iPad Changes

Since the iPad 2 added magnets to enable the now-ubiquitous sleep/wake cover, the iPad has been about accessories. With the exception of a few dongles, Apple makes no accessories for its MacBooks, but the iPad has all kinds of extras, from smart cases and several different keyboard covers to various Pencils.

iPad Pro 2018 with Smart Keyboard Folio.

Daniel Romero / Unsplash

The iPad is a “naked robotic core,” a basic, unadorned screen that can be converted into a laptop, graphics tablet, or even a recording studio if you add the right accessory. This adds massive flexibility, with one huge advantage over the Mac—you can use it as a touch-screen tablet, without its keyboard. 

The 2024 iPad may encroach even further onto the MacBook’s turf, with a new Magic Keyboard accessory that may come in aluminum, and feature a row of function keys above the number row, just like the Mac has now, making it much easier to access various settings direct: media control keys, volume and brightness controls, etc, and perhaps even an escape key. 

“The new accessory makes the iPad Pro look even more like a laptop than the current setup and adds a larger trackpad,” wrote serial rumormonger Mark Gurman in his newsletter detailing the new add-on. 

However, the iPad is still not a Mac, nor will it ever be, thanks to software limits imposed by Apple. Users can install any software they like on the Mac, but the iPad is still hobbled by the App Store, which only carries software that Apple deems appropriate. For example, there’s no way to install a clipboard manager—an app that lets you store multiple snippets to your clipboard and access them later—on the iPad. 

Drawing on an iPad.

Cristofer Maximilian / Unsplash

Apple may be forced by the EU to open up the iPad and iPhone to third-party app stores, which will improve the situation, but the iPad will almost certainly remain the only touch-screen computer in Apple’s lineup, with the Mac remaining touch-free for now. 

“The iPad/Mac hybrid crowd just doesn’t understand how different Apple sees these devices,” says Bower. “At a bare minimum, the entire macOS UI would need to be redone to work for both touch and pointer—something no one else has managed to do in a good way. And Apple would need to do this in a way that was invisible for those who don’t have touch [screens].”

The iPad is set for a big year, then. Although it may be overshadowed by the forthcoming Vision Pro launch, for users these new iPads might be Apple’s most exciting news in some time.

By 111 Tech

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