Apple May Reveal a Major iPad Upgrade at WWDC

The tablet is about to get smarter.

Unsplash / Taras Shypka

Apple has updated the event app for this year’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, set to start June 5, and the in-app schedule drops some hints that the best is yet to come. During the first day’s keynote speech, Apple typically reveals new versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. All of these receive major releases every year, and the new app’s scheduling reveals this year may be no different

A report in Economic Daily News (translated by MacRumors) reveals that Apple will release 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros at the summer conference, with a Face ID face-detection system and a faster eight-core Apple A11X processor. At this stage, it’s unclear whether the new devices will feature a “notch” in the display, but the 0.5-inch increase in screen space over the 10.5-inch iPad Pro could come from extending the screen to the far edges in a similar fashion to the iPhone X.

Since its launch in 2010, the iPad has gradually added features that debuted on the iPhone first. The 2015 launch of the iPad Pro was an exception to this, with the addition of stylus support and a detachable keyboard system that enabled professional applications. However, Apple has made it clear that it considers the redesigned $999 iPhone X, which launched in November 2017, as a signal of its design path for the coming years, so the addition of Face ID makes sense.

As for the A11X, Apple has a tendency to release faster “X” versions of its chips in iPads, which use a metal heat spreader in the larger devices. The A11 chip offers a number of boosts that will enable new applications, like better support for on-device machine learning to offer offline artificial intelligence applications that don’t depend on sending information to the cloud first.

iPhone X in hand.

Unsplash / Bagus Hernawan

If Apple eschews the notch on its iPad, it could upset a growing fashion trend. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month, Android smartphone makers scrambled to include “cutouts” in their screen, with the Leagoo S9 and Asus Zenfone 5 both offering iPhone X-like screen shapes. Apple is rumored to ditch the curious design with its next iPhone lineup in the fall of 2018, around the same time that Google is expected to release Android P with support for display cutouts. With the larger space offered by the iPad, it’s possible the company finds enough space to miss out the change.

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