The big news from Apple’s latest event is not that tablets are ancient history; it’s that they could be here to take over from desktops.
Before Apple’s Spring Loaded event, the internet was abuzz with whisperings about a potential upgrade to the iPad Pro line. The predominant rumour was that it would be powered by the A14 Bionic chip, the muscular mobile processor present on the iPhone 12 Pro. The reality was different; it will actually run on the M1, the Apple’s own-brand silicon chip which is present in the upcoming 2021 iMac.
This was astonishing news, as nothing that powerful has ever been found in a consumer tablet before. Apple quite rightly declared it to be “the fastest device of its kind, and it’s not even close.”
If we take a sideways glance at those other devices, they are sorely lacking compared to the capabilities of Apple’s prestigious iPads, which have comfortably been the best of their kind ever since they launched in 2010. Though understandably popular with kids and some senior citizens, tablets with Android or Amazon software have not troubled the top of the tree, with iPads putting them firmly in the shade.
It’s not just the internal muscle that’s leagues ahead of the rest; the Mini LED screen present on the 12.9″ version of the iPad Pro is another huge leap forward for the industry, offering unparalleled levels of contrast and efficiency. Thanks to the clever iPadOS software and additional accessories like the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro line is multifunctional, capable of complex technical drawing and desktop input as well.
The same day that the iPad Pro knocked our socks off, Apple unveiled the new iMac. The design is what caught most people’s eye, being seductively slim, with minimal bezels around the borders of the screen (admittedly apart from a prominent chin), and with all the powerful internals (including that masterful M1 chip) contained within. Essentially, if you were to unbolt it from its stand, it wouldn’t look a million miles away from an enormous tablet.
So with these demarcation lines becoming ever more blurred, why would you plump for one over the other?
Well on the one hand, an iMac or even a MacBook for that matter has a larger screen, arguably a more comfortable form factor, and is better at multi-tasking thanks to its brilliant macOS software. On the other hand, the iPad Pro has a sharper, smoother, touch-sensitive screen, is far more portable and adaptable, offers 5G mobile data connectivity, and iPadOS software is getting better each year at performing a multitude of complex computing tasks.
The crucial differences between the two, then, are size and software, the former of which is a matter of preference and the latter of which can of course be rewired and reworked – and I’m sure it will be in the coming years.
Apple has come a long way since first iPad, which changed the game but was more or less was a glorified iPod Touch (and frankly many competitors’ tablets still fit that description). The new iPad Pro has changed the game yet again, so much so that it’s almost merged into another sport.