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Apple’s new iPads look amazing, but there’s one big problem

Renders of the 11-inch and 13-inch models of the iPad Pro 2024.
Digital Trends

After a year-long drought, Apple finally released some new iPads during its Let Loose event on May 7. Though it was just the iPad Air and iPad Pro models that were updated, we did get a 13-inch option for the iPad Air along with the standard 11-inch size, as well as iPad Pros with new OLED displays.

The iPad Airs now come equipped with an M2 chip inside, while the iPad Pros mark the debut of the new M4 chip. Exciting stuff, right? Unfortunately, as enticing as the hardware is, there is still one thing holding the iPad back — and it’s all Apple’s fault.

Exciting new hardware, boring old software

13-inch iPad Air 2024 M2 in blue color.
iPad Air 2024 Apple

This was a big update for the iPad Air and iPad Pro models.

For years, the iPad Air came in only one size, which ranged from 9.7 to 10.9 inches. This year, Apple introduced a second size option for the iPad Air — the 13-inch model — alongside the 11-inch one. Along with the new size is the bump up to the M2 chip from the M1, up to 1TB of storage, and support for the new Apple Pencil Pro.

On the iPad Pro side, we got an even bigger surprise. Both the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro models are now equipped with the new Tandem OLED Ultra Retina XDR displays, the new M4 chip, and the nano-texture display option on the 1TB and 2TB models. This is the first time that Apple launched a new M-series chip in an iPad instead of a Mac, so it’s kind of a big deal. And the 1TB/2TB models even go up to 16GB RAM.

The hardware for both is rather exciting. But there’s still one problem: iPadOS.

Someone holding the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Pro (2022).
iPad Pro 2022 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

In its current state, iPadOS 17 just doesn’t cut it. If you want to do serious, productive work, you may be able to do part of it on an iPad, but eventually, there’s a good chance you’ll need to move over to a Mac or PC to finish your tasks. Even with Stage Manager, multitasking is still limited on an iPad compared to a computer.

I’ve tried in the past to do all of my work on an iPad, but the experience was more tedious than efficient. Sure, I could write up my drafts easier since that would be the only thing on my screen, but renaming multiple images, uploading them into something like WordPress, and getting all the necessary details into a WordPress post — all of this is a pain on a tablet compared to a desktop.

The iPad — especially the iPad Pro — is geared more for artistic creatives, such as visual artists, musicians, photo and video editors, and more. If that’s you, the iPad can work out perfectly. But for everyone else? iPadOS leaves a lot to be desired.

Apple needs to make iPadOS interesting again

Volume buttons on the iPad Air 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Again, none of this is to take away from the new iPads’ hardware upgrades. I am eager to check out the iPad Pro with the nano-texture display in particular, because I prefer more matte, anti-reflective screens. I also like that Apple finally made the 11-inch iPad Pro equal to its larger sibling in terms of display technology.

But I can’t help but think that all of this powerful new hardware is hampered by the fact that iPadOS still just, well, doesn’t do as much as I’d like it to. Personally, I don’t even really use an iPad that much lately anyway, and when I do, it’s typically just to stream video from something like Disney+, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who does this.

I mean, what can the iPad Pro with an M4 chip do right now that I can’t do on an iPad Air or even the 10th-gen iPad or iPad mini? I suppose there are certain apps, like Final Cut Pro for iPad, that will only work on certain models, but that’s a niche corner of the market.

For the average person, I doubt they use programs like Final Cut Pro, so are they missing out on anything by not getting one of these new supercharged iPads? Most people at this point just use an iPad for watching videos, right? Maybe playing a few games? Perhaps some web browsing? You can do that on any iPad, not just the new iPad Air with M2 or iPad Pro with M4.

Could iPadOS 18 shake things up?

The App Library on the iPad Pro (2022).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It just feels odd that Apple would release such powerful new hardware for the iPads themselves; meanwhile, iPadOS hasn’t been interesting for the past several years.

The good news? Apple’s WWDC 2024 is just a month away, and from the rumors going around, we should expect a big upgrade with iOS 18, as Apple could dip into AI integration. I hope that this also means some big changes coming for iPadOS 18, too, because it’s in dire need of software that takes advantage of the power of the M4.

I guess we’ll find out in about a month. In the meantime, as much as I’d like to get a new nano-texture iPad Pro, I’ll just keep using my five-year-old iPad Pro, which still serves me fine when I need it.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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