Yesterday, I revealed my favourite Apple product of 2021. If you missed it, you can read it here.

As noted, 2021 has been an absolutely barnstorming year for Apple. Capped off with a MacBook Pro few of us thought we’d see (again), it also featured the resurgence of the iPad mini, a stunning new iMac design, and a whole bunch of new services, features, and privacy-first stuff that makes all of our lives easier and safer.

But it wasn’t all roses. Indeed, this year, Apple made a decision which led to the worst product I’ve seen from them in quite some time.

Oh you big tease, Tim

I have no problem with Apple pushing boundaries. In fact, I’d rather they did so a little more often.

Take the iPhone, for instance. Why not make one that bends, folds, or squirts water? Stick it alongside the normal, utilitarian iPhones, and we suddenly have something a little more experimental and exciting for anyone who wants to try the future, now.

However, I’m not keen on tech for tech’s sake. For instance, imagine taking the most exciting chip Apple has ever developed for the Mac and sticking it in an iPad Pro.

Actually, that sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? If Apple decides to do that, they clearly have big plans for the iPad. After all, why else would they throw a proper desktop-class chip into their already wonderful tablet?

What are you playing at, Tim? You sneaky little so-and-so! What on earth are you planning on doing with the iPad and its shiny new M1 chip?

Ooh, you big tease. Stop it.

Show us already.

Go on – what’s this all about?

Oh.

The first episode of the Eight or Sixteen podcast was given the show title “If all we get is widgets”. It was a reference to the fact that, following the launch of the M1-powered iPad Pro, Apple had better be planning something pretty special for iPadOS 15.

What did we get?

Widgets.

There was nothing announced during the Spring Loaded event that even remotely pushed the capabilities of that M1 chip. Nothing that finally removed iPadOS completely from its iOS roots. None of Apple’s pro apps for the platform. No deep integration between macOS and iPadOS, beyond Universal Control (which still hasn’t arrived).

Some thought that the Unleashed event in October might yield something more interesting for the M1 iPad Pro. But it didn’t. Sure, we got two absolutely incredible MacBook Pros, but the iPad wasn’t even a footnote.

This is why the M1 iPad Pro is Apple’s worst product of 2021. They have done precisely nothing with that M1 chip, nor given us any hint of what might arrive in the future.

An overreaction?

No. I’m afraid I won’t let Apple get away with this one.

Granted, the new iPad Pro offers a little bit more than just the M1 chip. Although, admittedly, I’ve just had to hop onto Apple’s website to remind myself of what those things were.

In case, like me, you’d forgotten – the new iPad Pro also has an XDR display, 5G connectivity (try and stay awake at the back, please), and… well, that’s it.

But if you do as I did and head to the official webpage for the iPad Pro, you’ll notice that the headline feature – and, indeed, most of the page itself – is dedicated to the M1 chip.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t enjoy being grumpy. I’d much rather marvel at the new iPad Pro, as I have the 16-inch MacBook Pro that’s currently sitting in front of me. I want to love and admire everything Apple releases. But the M1 iPad Pro feels like nothing more than an incredibly irritating entrant to an equally pointless pissing contest. Calm down, mate – we’ve all had a drink.

I still have my 2018 iPad Pro and it feels as fast as the day I bought it. Resource-intensive apps like Lightroom are super-zippy and it never feels like it’s pushing the boundaries of the A12X Bionic.

Apple hasn’t given me a reason to buy an M1 iPad Pro, and I really don’t like being teased when the pay-off appears to be a country mile away or, worse, not on the cards at all.

As much as I love the iPad, it needs to evolve and break free from the ‘massive iPhone’ it has always been.

We need to see some serious leaps forward next year, I’m afraid.