Since the iPad was first introduced in 2010, it has been marketed as a mobile consumer device. For the last several years we’ve seen signs of Apple attempting to consolidate their product lineup and cross-develop features between their desktop computing hardware and software with their mobile devices. Today marks a milestone that blurs the line between tablet and laptop—earlier Apple made the announcement that the newest iteration of the iPad Pro will receive the homegrown M1 processor.
Apple has used its years of experience building miniature but powerful chips for mobile devices like iPad and iPhone to create an integrated processor called the M1. The M1 combines computing, graphics, machine learning, and other technologies that all live on a single chip. A line of MacBook laptops powered by this new processor was released in the fall of 2020 with much success. Now, with the addition of the M1 chip to the pro-level iPads, the distinction between computer and mobile device is very grey.
The 8-core M1 iPad Pro is claimed to have 75 times faster processing and 1500 times faster graphics than the original iPad and 50% performance improvement over the previous generation. The iPad Pro also gains a bump in storage, with options up to 2TB, and RAM is increased to 16GB. Not to be left out, 5G wireless connectivity is included, which we first saw arrive in the iPhone 12 last fall. The ultra-wideband 5G supports up to 3.5 Gbps for the ultimate connection on the go. Forget to download charts at home? Get them in an instant over 5G.
Also, the charging port may look like an ordinary USB-C port but in reality, Apple has updated that connection port to support Thunderbolt 4. Thunderbolt offers four times the bandwidth for wired connections. This ultimately means attaching an assortment of high speed accessories like portable hard drives, or even large 6K computer monitors.
On the front, a new 12MP ultra wide angle TrueDepth camera keeps you looking your best during those arduous online tele-meetings. One interesting feature with the front camera is technology Apple coins as Center Stage, which detects your presence and automatically pans the shot to keep you centered in the video.
The other new feature comes only to the larger 12.9 iPad Pro and that is an all new Extended Range (XDR) display. This technology is adapted from the Pro Display XDR standalone monitor, which includes a contrast ratio of 1,000,000 to 1. To get this tech smashed inside such a thin enclosure necessitated the invention of mini LEDs for the backlight. These LEDs are so small that the display is packed with 10,000 that create 2,500 dimming zones.
The new iPad Pro is still compatible with the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. Prices stay the same, starting at $799 for the 11” and $1099 for the 12.9”. While the practical pilot application may be very little, the latest version of your favorite navigation app will run dramatically faster and the M1 processor opens the doors for endless aviation possibilities.
Apple announced a few other product releases and updates, largely a new line of Apple’s desktop all-in-one iMacs powered by the same M1 processor. Additionally, a new purple color is now available for iPhone 12.
If you’ve ever misplaced your airplane keys, you may consider the new Air Tag accessory that expands the Find My ecosystem and provides a private and secure way to easily locate the items that matter most. The Air Tag is essentially a Bluetooth keychain that uses the “Find My” network to help the owner locate lost items.
Lastly, a new Apple TV 4K is available that supports high frame rate HDR so you can watch Sporty’s Pilot Training in stunning clarity.