While I await the arrival of my new 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro and 10th-generation iPad (I went for the yellow one, in case you’re wondering) it struck me that Apple has made some very odd decisions this week.
This isn’t unusual. Tim and co. do this quite a lot with their devices and software. Whether it’s promising and then abandoning stuff like AirPower, or inexplicably reversing their decision not to add Stage Manager support to older iPads, we’re often left scratching our heads, aren’t we?
This week was a case in point, and judging by the comments section in my reaction video, there are a lot of very angry Apple fans out there today.
I totally understand why, and I’ve identified seven decisions made by Apple for the iPad and Apple TV updates this week that defy explanation.
1. Adding USB-C to the Siri Remote
It’s impossible to overstate the irony here.
In 2018, Apple gave us an iPad Pro with a USB-C port. Users rejoiced. Even Apple employees in attendance at the event rejoiced (many were apparently unaware of its inclusion in the new device).
Yet, since that fateful day, USB-C hasn’t been added to the iPhone or AirPods Pro. Both of those products were recently updated and retained the ageing, slow, and immensely useless Lightning port.
Enter the new Siri Remote for the refreshed Apple TV 4K… with a USB-C port for charging.
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
2. Sticking with the Apple Pencil 1
I really like the look of the 10th-generation iPad. Price hike aside (which is frustrating – more on that in a moment) it was about time the entry-level iPad received a facelift.
We now have the iPad Air aesthetic, the removal of the front-facing Touch ID button, and far thinner bezels. It looks ready for 2022 and beyond, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
There’s just one inexplicably massive elephant in the room, which is that this new iPad is still only compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil. You know – the one you have to plug into the side of your iPad to charge and which can’t be magnetically attached to the iPad.
I understand that there needs to be some differentiation between this iPad and the iPad Air, but the decision to saddle owners with the worst version of the Apple Pencil seems ludicrously unfair.
Oh, and because the new iPad has moved to USB-C and the first-generation Apple Pencil charges via Lightning, you need to buy a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter, which makes the charging process look even more ludicrous.
Once again, you couldn’t make this stuff up.
Wouldn’t it have been easier on Apple’s part just to make this iPad compatible with the second-generation Pencil?!
3. Making a MASSIVE deal about a tiny Apple TV update
From what I can tell (and, trust me – I’ve checked multiple times), the only meaningful upgrades on the new Apple TV 4K are the A15 Bionic chip and HDR10+ support.
Despite this, if you head to Apple’s website, you’ll find that it currently receives top billing above the iPhone 14 lineup.
In reality, this is a small spec bump, a slightly lower price (yay), and… that’s it. There’s literally no need to buy one unless you don’t have an Apple TV 4K already.
Of all the announcements we received this week, this one is the epitome of scraping the bottom of the barrel.
4. Confusing the iPad line-up even further
So, you want a new iPad? Ok, let’s look at the options.
You’ve got the cheapest available, which has big, thick bezels and a front-facing Touch ID button. If you can look past the ageing looks, it’s a super-fast, brilliant way to get into iPadOS – but its time on Apple’s iPadOS update schedule is probably limited, because there’s a new kid in town.
That brings us to the new 10th-generation iPad. It comes in lots of cool colours and has thinner bezels than the entry-level model. Besides that, you get… well, not a whole lot more. It just looks cooler, ok?
But this new iPad also looks spookily similar to one that costs more.
If you’ve got a bit more flexibility in your budget and can stretch to the iPad Air, you’ll end up with fewer colour choices than the regular iPad, but gain second-generation Apple Pencil support, an M1 chip you won’t be able to make use of, and a slightly better display that probably looks the same as the one on the regular iPad.
Confused? It doesn’t get much less confusing from here, I’m afraid.
If you’ve got some more cash stashed down the back of the sofa, you’re into iPad Pro territory, where you can either buy what is essentially an iPad Air with a better screen and an M2 chip (the 11-inch version) or the biggest iPad available (the 12.9-inch version), which costs about the same as a MacBook.
Woah, I forgot the iPad mini! That’s available too, if… well, if you don’t like regular-sized iPads and would rather spend your hard-earned money on arguably Apple’s best incarnation of their tablet so far.
Even more confused?
5. Not adding function keys to the Magic Keyboard
At this point, it feels like Apple is trolling us. They must be. Why on earth would they launch a brand-new Magic Folio Keyboard for the 10th-generation iPad and give it a lovely row of function keys, but fail to do the same with the Magic Keyboard?
Let’s not forget that the Magic Keyboard is designed primarily for the iPad Pro lineup, and as I noted yesterday, if there’s one iPad in need of a serious bump in interesting features, it’s that one.
Once again, I cannot fathom the reasoning behind this. Is it the case that they’ve got an abundance of Magic Keyboards in stock and need to shift them before updating, or could they just not be bothered?
Is there space or technical constraints inherent within the existing Magic Keyboard that won’t allow for function keys to be added?
None of this seems plausible, I’m afraid.
6. Adding an Apple Pencil feature no one asked for
Hands up if you wanted a ‘hover’ feature for the Apple Pencil.
For the uninitiated, this places an indicator on the M2 iPad Pro’s display that reveals where the tip will ‘touch down’ when placed on said display. It looks pretty handy for illustrators, and if you’re a Scribble user (I’m not convinced there are many out there) it might assist you, too.
I’m just not sure anyone was expecting or clamouring for this, really. It feels like a last-minute, desperate feature addition designed to give Apple’s Crack Marketing Team something to shout about above the fold on the iPad Pro webpage.
7. Giving professional users NO reason to upgrade
You’ve heard me whinge enough about the lack of Final Cut Pro on the iPad, so I won’t dwell on this today. Suffice it to say, the biggest disappointment and strangest decision made by Apple this week was to completely ignore the professional crowd.
If, like me, you’ve got a 2018 iPad Pro still delivering a fantastic, fast user experience for everything you need it to do, there is absolutely no reason to upgrade to the new M2-powered iPad Pro. This is particularly the case if you’re still waiting for a professional app to be made available for it. Like, you know, Final Cut Pro.
I’m not convinced I’ll be keeping the 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro that’s arriving next week. Beyond the review I need to undertake, I just can’t see it delivering any value to my business.
Apple has long needed to increase the upgrade turnover of iPads, but these continual, dreary, iterative updates to the iPad Pro lineup do not help that cause at all. I’d love to know how many professional users are in the same boat as me. How much money is Apple leaving on the table by not delivering meaningful updates to that crowd?
On that last point, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re an existing iPad Pro user who uses the device for professional, paid work, are you tempted to upgrade to the M2 version?
If so, what are the reasons? What have I missed? What has Apple done to make this a tempting upgrade for you?
As for the rest of these weird decisions, answers on a postcard, please!