Not quite as expected: Presentation of the new iPad Pro
HANDOUT / EPA
It seldom happens that there are real surprises at Apple presentations. Steve Jobs joked back in 2010 when he introduced the iPhone 4: “A whole new design. Stop me if you've already seen that. ”Because of course everyone had seen the device. An Apple employee had left a prototype of it in a bar. Instead of giving it back to him, the finders sold the smartphone to the »Gizmodo« blog, which then published pictures of it.
These days, there are no longer such pretty stories as these.
But data, properties, names and sometimes photos of products that have not yet been announced have repeatedly escaped Apple in the past.
The announcement of the Find-Gadgets called AirTags on Tuesday, for example, was predictable, except for the prices.
Design, data, functions, all of this was known beforehand.
The fact that the new iPad Pro 12.9 should have a screen with mini-LED technology was not new either.
It was unexpected that the new iPad Pro is powered by the same M1 processor as the current MacBook Air notebooks, some MacBook Pros and the new iMacs.
Journalists and analysts who were otherwise considered well-informed had not expected this.
Apple was finally able to surprise again.
Basically, Apple's professional tablet is completely overpowered with the processor: Apps that can use the M1 in the iPad are hardly to be found at the moment.
In the beginning you will therefore benefit primarily from the efficiency of the Apple chip and - hopefully - notice longer runtimes.
One less chip frees up resources
The decision to plant an M1 on the iPad Pro, however, also has advantages for the manufacturer.
In the factories of TSMC, which manufacture chips for Apple, more copies of this one processor can now roll off the production line; production does not have to be changed for either one or the other.
This makes TSMC easier to manufacture and increases the number of chips of one type that Apple orders, which could result in savings.
The iPad Pro in the versions with 11 inches (left) and 12.9 inches
Photo: APPLE INC.
HANDOUT / EPA-EFE
What could be more important, however, is that the decision in favor of the M1 freed Apple's chip developer from the burden of designing a new processor only for the iPad Pro series.
In the end, variants of the A12 Bionic processor, which was originally used in the iPhone XS, have always been developed for this purpose.
Now, however, those developers can devote themselves to a successor to the M1 instead.
And that is far more important for Apple than a possible A14X for the iPad Pro would have been.
Because Apple's schedule is to switch completely from Intel chips to its own chips within two years, with all products.
So far it has worked out well.
In reviews, the MacBooks and Mac mini, which already feature the new chip, were praised for their outstanding performance and amazingly long battery life.
Apple needs a performance differential
But now the team around the head of chip development at Apple, Johny Srouji, is faced with the task of designing even more powerful processors.
Because even if it is praised for its performance, the M1 has so far only been used in Apple's consumer devices.
For the company's high-end devices, for future large and expensive MacBooks and iMacs and possibly the next Mac Pro, at least one M2 chip has to be installed.
A chip that creates a performance gap within Apple's hardware portfolio by simply being able to do more than the M1 - and thus justifying the surcharges Apple charges for its professional machines.
A new generation of MacBook Pros should be the first to be equipped with such chips.
At the same time, Apple is likely to revise the design of its mobile computers, as it is now with the iMacs.
The iMacs themselves could be upgraded by Apple for its creative clientele with a larger screen - around 30 inches - and that chip too.
Only then do the really big boxes come in, the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro.
But there is still a lot of time until then.
The two-year transition period that Apple has set itself will not end until winter 2022.