Apple’s next iPad Pro is coming in a few days, reports Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The company is set to announce new 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions of its tablet, codenamed J617 and J620, which feature the same M2 processor found in the latest MacBook Air. This is the first update to the company’s Pro line of tablets in a year and a half, and the M2 chip is the biggest change. According to Gurman, it should provide an increase in speed of almost 20%.
The new iPads will be similar to last year’s Pro model, which is in its fourth year with the same flat-screen design. In contrast, the original iPad Pro design from 2015 only lasted three years. But the current look is sleeker and consistent with the design of Apple’s other iPads and iPhones, so it makes sense to stick with it for now.
Apple is also working on a new entry-level tablet that should look similar to the iPad Pro and have a USB Type-C port. When it arrives, this new budget iPad will be the most significant update to the lineup in years, and will mark a bit of a change in strategy from the entry-level product that usually only gets an annual processor update.
On the software side, Apple plans to release iPadOS 16.1, the first version of iOS 16 for iPad, around October 24. If all goes according to plan, development will be completed on time. Apple’s quarterly earnings report is on October 27, and the company usually launches new products a few days or weeks before that report.
According to Gurman, the new iPad software update and the first version of macOS Ventura add support for the latest iPad Pro models and the next versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. High-end laptops will get the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, more powerful versions of the standard M2. Otherwise, the changes in laptops will be minimal.
Although new MacBook Pros will be introduced soon, they will most likely not be released at the same time as the iPad Pro. The company has historically released new Macs in November, as it did in 2019 with the 16-inch MacBook Pro and in 2020 with the first Apple Silicon-based MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini.
Gurman notes that Apple is also working on an M2 version of the Mac mini, which will be the first update to the company’s smallest computer in two years. Also in the works: Apple TV with an A14 chip and 4 GB of RAM. This is an upgrade compared to the A12 chip and 3GB of RAM.
The company traditionally presents iPad and Mac updates at the end of fall at separate events, but this year there will be no presentation. Apple will simply launch the products on its website.
Gurman believes that Apple abandoned the big presentation because of the rather ordinary nature of the announcements. The new products will change only a few specifications and will not have an updated design.
In addition to updating the iPad Pro, the company aims to eventually realize another model of using its tablets, turning them into a hub for a smart home and a speaker. This approach would be similar to what Google is doing with its future Pixel Tablet.
When Google first demonstrated the product in May, it seemed like an old-school tablet with standard Android features. But earlier this month, the company said it will also sell a new accessory that lets you dock your Pixel tablet and use it as a smart display and home control device.
According to Gurman, Apple is also working on adding similar functionality to the iPad as early as 2023. Apple is exploring the possibility of creating a separate device that combines the capabilities of an iPad and a smart speaker. The idea is to offer something that users can place on their kitchen table, living room or bedside table. But the company is also working on an iPad dock that could be sold separately and offer essentially the same capabilities.
Regardless of the final approach, the move will mark one of Apple’s most significant pushes into smart home devices, expanding its still-small foothold in set-top boxes and speaker systems. The company already offers Apple TV and HomePod, but nothing to compete with Amazon’s Echo Show or Google’s Pixel Tablet.
Apple also continues to work on an updated version of the HomePod, which should get a larger size than the mini version, as well as a combined device Apple TV and smart speakers with a camera for FaceTime and other functions. Until they’re ready, however, the 12-year-old iPad might be the company’s best bet to make some noise in the smart home market.
The new products will mean a pretty significant year for Apple, which has released the Apple Watch Ultra, iPhone 14 Pro, Mac Studio and the new iPhone SE in 2022. But Gurman believes next year will be even bigger, with a mixed reality headset, a bigger MacBook Air, changes to the iPhone and more home devices.