eXtensions - Saturday 11 May 2024

Weekend Review: M2 iPad Air; M4 iPad Pro; New Apple Pencil; Crushing Crushed

By Graham K. Rogers

M4 chip

Apple introduced new M2 iPad Air devices, and iPad Pro tablets with the M4 chip: the M3 had been expected. To go with the new capabilities, Apple is releasing a new Final Cut Pro with Final Cut Camera that allows 4 input devices to be controlled. There is a new Logic Pro as well. The Apple Pencil was updated to provide new features for those working in graphics on the new devices. The video that Apple used for the iPad Pro generated many negative comments for its destructive message.

One of the rumors before the Let Loose event was that this would be one of Apple's shortest ever: a time of 35 minutes was touted, which, over the next few hours fell to "around half an hour". I timed it at 38 minutes. The source that so many online publications cited was Mark Gurman's Sunday newsletter, which also told everyone what was to be in the event on Tuesday evening, spoiling the surprise again although he was spot on and has been praised for his "scoop". He does not always get it right, so every time one of these newsletters comes out, I keep my fingers crossed. Note that he confidently predicted April for new iPads and here we are in May. . .

The Main Event

Apple icon On Tuesday evening the Apple Stores went offline as usual. This time, however, the new logo with the Apple Pencil outline teased what we hoped would be coming soon. That logo was also shown on the YouTube feed which I readied in case the Apple TV played up which was showing nothing: just the previous events. I also fired up the Mac to make sure that the event was available in the browser. That showed the same icon, but the Pencil was being twirled between the fingers of the hand. I had a message that the Event was about to start on YouTube. When I refreshed the browser on the Mac a cartoon-style video appeared. I refreshed the Events link on the AppleTV and there we were.

Ringmeister Cook wearing special Nike shoes that were designed on the iPad started things off with an upbeat report on Vision Pro and included the Porsche connection. Vision Pro was used in the recent Taycan fastest lap at Laguna Seca and Porsche head office watched the event live on the Vision Pro which is being incorporated into several of its services. There was also a brief mention of some surgical eye-care that had taken place; while we also saw a short clip of the editing of a new movie from John M. Chu. Like the iPad this is talking off slowly but some of the smart people are beginning to see the potential.

Cook basically confirmed that there would be no new Mac at this event by announcing how happy users have been with the M3 MacBook Air; then switched to comments on the iPad and listed several professions and areas where the devices are used before handing over to John Ternus, who has been mentioned in dispatches as a possible CEO of Apple when the time comes for Tim Cook to step down.

Apple 11 and 13-inch M2 iPad Air
11" and 13" M2 iPad Air - Image courtesy of Apple

Ternus began with a brief overview of the iPad Air before running a video with some surprises. As well as the 11" version there is now a 13" iPad Air. Both have the Retina Display. As has been suggested by many users, the front-facing camera is now on the front edge, rather than its landscape position before. The video claimed that sound output has been improved as well.

The new iPad Air comes in blue (new), purple, starlight and space gray. It also now has the M2 chip making it more powerful. Here Ternus mentioned its future AI potential, although we will hear more about this at WWDC next month. The devices have storage of 128GB, 512GB and 1TB. It starts at $599 for the 11" with 128GB of storage, while the 13" starts at $799 for 128GB.

Apple 11 and 13-inch M2 iPad Pro
11" and 13" M4 iPad Pro - Image courtesy of Apple

The event now switched to the iPad Pro and we were told that the new device was going to "crush" everything. It was an odd word in the context, but the reason was clear. It was a clumsy transition to an even clumsier video introduction. This has generated so much criticism in the last couple of days and I have an extended comment below.

The video described the new iPad Pro as "impossibly thin" and with its new OLED display, the 11" iPad Pro is 5.3mm and the 13", with its slightly larger display then there previous version, is 5.1mm: less than the iPod nano (Apple now has a new advertisement showing this). It weighs under a pound. For those of us who now work in metric units, the 11" is 0.444 Kg and the 13" is 0.579 Kg (slightly heavier for the cellular versions).

Apple 11 and 13-inch M2 iPad Pro
Impossibly thin iPad Pro - Image courtesy of Apple

The OLED screen had been rumored for a while, but the solution to the brightness problem was typical Apple. Instead of the usual single-layer display, the iPad Pro has two OLED panels to maintain the same brightness levels as the series 4 M2 iPad Pro. On PetaPixel, Jeremy Gray, outlining some of the new features, writes, "While there have been rumors of tandem OLED technology for a while, it seems Apple is the first to bring the solution to market."

When describing the screen in a comparison of the new iPad Pro to its M2 predecessor, Andrew Williams (iMore) writes, "This is a kind of OLED that sounds like it shouldn't make sense. It's effectively two OLED panels stacked together in order to dramatically increase brightness." But over the years isn't that what Apple has done so many times?

Apple M4 chip
M4 Apple silicon - Image courtesy of Apple

A short video of Tim Millet in the lab explained some of the technical features and benefits of the new chips, which come to the iPad Pro before the Mac. He mentioned cores, CPU and GPU and the Neural Engine of course, but with 38 trillion operations/sec (TOPS) this is going to be fast, while it consumes less power for what it does (battery life is the same as the previous iPad at about 10 hours). There is also a Nano Texture Glass, matte screen available for less glare, but this is only for the higher priced devices.

Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro for the iPad - Image courtesy of Apple

To show this off, John Ternus introduced new versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for the iPad with some fairly extensive features, including the ability to control the input (direction, focus, et al) from four different cameras all from Final Cut on the iPad Pro. To help with this there is to be a new app, Final Cut Camera which is said to be coming soon (see below). Ternus also highlighted some of the ways AI is already being used on the device, such as the shadowless document images - try taking a photo of your passport without some shadow if you do not have studio lighting, say in a kitchen or office. Like the iPad Air, the front camera has been moved to the landscape position rather than the edge which caused minor problems when trying to look at others in a FaceTime call or online meeting. Apple does listen sometimes.

Final Cut Camera
Final Cut Camera - Image courtesy of Apple

With the new design and thinness there is a newer Magic Keyboard, but the Folio keyboard was not mentioned and I am still confused about this as others are also convinced this is no more. It was not shown when linking to keyboards on the iPad Pro ordering page and I could only find the Folio keyboard for the Generation 4 iPad Pro. I decided to order the Magic Keyboard. A Folio keyboard later appeared on the Apple Store for Thailand but only for the 13" iPad Pro. I cancelled the order for the keyboard, but later reordered it.

Apple Pencil 4
New Apple Pencil - Image courtesy of Apple

As expected there is a new Apple Pencil, but this does a lot more than I will ever need. The video introduction looked at the ways it could be controlled and the new design incorporates a gyroscope. It is clearly aimed at those using the iPad Pro for graphical and artistic purposes. Fortunately the Apple Pencil 2 will also work with the new iPad, but the new Pencil only works with the M4 iPad Pro and the new iPad Air. Another new feature of this is that it will work with FindMy.

Storage for the iPad Pro has been upped, starting at 256GB, with 512GB, 1TB and 2TB. The 256GB starts at $999 (39990 baht) and $1299 (52990 baht) for the 11" and 13" respectively. There is a jump when 1TB is selected, but the iPad Pro devices with the larger storage also have chips with more cores. Ordering in the USA and 29 countries began right away, while in Thailand this is shown as still unavailable, although my Magic Keyboard is due to ship 21-25 May which suggests that the iPad Pro may be available around the same time.

Tim Cook closed the event mentioning that the most affordable iPad just got even cheaper as Apple cut the price of the 10th generation model by $100, although that is a little more expensive than the Generation 9 iPad which is no longer available. The iPad mini was mentioned, but not updated, which gives hope that there is more to come this year. And we were reminded that WWDC is next month.

Logic Pro for the iPad
Logic Pro for the iPad - Image courtesy of Apple

Crushing it

Apple's weird video has taken a lot of flak As I looked at that on Tuesday evening, I thought how un-Apple this was especially some of the articles being crushed, although I was fairly certain this was another example of the level that computer graphics (CGI) has reached. Cult of Mac, made some comments about the negative reports from consumers. Many more have followed since. Apple has also apologized for the clip which "fell short of its goal of empowering and celebrating creatives" (AdAge). My link for that was from John Gruber at Daring Fireball. Michael Simon (MacWorld) thinks it is all overblown - nothing was actually destroyed and that the ad was about empowering creative people through technology while highlighting the versatility of the iPad. Apple "just wants to sell some iPads".

A couple of days later and there is still fallout from this short clip. Damon Beres and Charlie Wardell (Atlantic) call it "cringey, even depressing" in a lengthy and mainly negative analysis. Mark Fraunfelder (BoingBoing) also notes that the clip is almost a direct copy of a 2008 advertisement for an LG phone (although the LG ad is a horizontal crush). However, MacDaily News who have never really liked the CEO writes, "Peak Tim Cook. Apple is silly and weak to apologize over this ad." I think they still have a way to go with the fallout from this that is still appearing in comments online.

Also in the video, just before the section in the metro train, the overhead shot of houses and the track deleted a whole lot of the real infrastructure: the power of the Apple Pencil (Oliver Haslam, iMore). I just want a new iPad Pro, but I am still debating over the right specifications for me. I see that shipping times for those making early orders for some models (still marked as unavailable here) are slipping to June (Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac).


While there are several other useful comments on the event, including a round of applause for Mark Gurman's scoop on the M4 chip, which, "If not for Gurman it would have been a rather shocking surprise in the keynote." I would rather have had the surprise.

I am disappointed that Apple has not made the keyboard folio for the new 11" iPad Pro available. There is one (in 3 colors) for the 13" version. An additional keyboard elevates an iPad (any iPad) to a new level making input far better than the software keyboard on the device. I know people work well enough with this, but a real keyboard (Folio or wireless) improves the device no end. The Folio keyboard worked perfectly for me with my last two iPad Pro devices and I was looking forward to a third. I must admit that the keyboard on this (I am typing on it now) does feel a bit dead. As the Folio has aged, I am beginning to miss keys more. Instead I have ordered the new Magic Keyboard and that is shown as arriving here 21-24 May.

Final Cut Camera - PetaPixel calls this the "missing piece" and delights in its features. It allows four cameras to be connected for Final Cut creations, with the director/user controlling them all from the iPad. The app is not available currently (spring we were told) but I will have a look to see if it can be used without Final Cut Pro. That is rather tempting. I have this on the Mac but don't use it much - I am not really a video person, preferring still photography - but new apps and new features could move me in that direction

I mentioned a short while ago how much I enjoyed Ripley on Netflix. Just before seeing the final episode I started to watch Baby Reindeer one lunchtime. From the beginning I found this fascinating but also felt uncomfortable by the events portrayed as was probably intended: a series that asks a lot of questions. Despite warnings from Netflix and Gadd (victim, writer and actor in the series), people immediately began looking for the two perpetrators. Gadd has since put out a message that Sean Foley, the male named as his rapist was wrongly identified.

The Daily Mail identified the stalker and interviewed her; but now Piers Morgan has interviewed her too on TV. With some really skilled deflections, she denied stalking Gadd and insists many of the claims in the drama were fictional (Netflix billed it as a true story). This interview is also available on YouTube and I watched it at the end of the week. It was a bit of a car crash and has done her no favors at all. Morgan was fairly gentle, but persistent. I also spent a considerable time after viewing the video, reading the comments which are themselves revealing. Some things do not add up.

Martha in Baby Reindeer
Screenshot of Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on X (@extensions_th). The RSS feed for the articles is http://www.extensions.in.th/ext_link.xml - copy and paste into your feed reader.


Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2024