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Get ready…M2 iPads are COMING!

This week looks set to be a busy one for Apple, and the M2 is at the heart of it…but is it just a stop-gap?

M2 MacBook Air
image courtesy of author

They’re coming…

You’re going to be hearing a lot about the M2 chip over the next few days.

It would seem, true to the rumours, that Apple will not be holding any further in-person events this year, but are still going to be releasing a slew of new, shiny goodies between now and the end of November.

This week looks set to be a busy one, with new 11-inch & 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s being released. Both will have the M2 chip inside – the same one as in my MacBookAir.

About time

It’s about time the maligned iPad received some love; it’s been around eighteen months since the premiere tablets in Apple’s line-up have witnessed any upgrades. The most significant change this time, though, will be swapping out the M1 chip for the newer M2 chip.

Aesthetically, we are not expecting anything too dramatic. The squared-off iPhone type appearance, fits in well with their current design signature, and will mean that the iPad Pro will have looked the same for the past four years.

And, still talking iPads, there may even be a new, cheaper level iPad released alongside the iPad Pro this week. Prices and specs of both models have not been confirmed, but we should be finding out more this week.

And, Apple has bigger plans overall for iPad. They are looking to make iPad the epicentre of your smart-home experience. Those developments were initiated this year, and now, there are rumours of a dock coming for iPad, that will very much put it front and centre in your set-up…possibly even with a speaker. Will that incorporate the new HomeHub that we keep hearing about, I wonder?

But there’s more to come…

Apple will not rest up at this week’s launch of the M2 iPads, though.

In November, it is likely that the M2 chip will find its way in to some more Macs as well. Apple generally likes to keep the release of iPads & Macs apart, and it would seem that formula will not be broken any time soon.

Any news on the first Apple Silicon Mac Pro has gone quiet for now, which I can only assume means that it will not be debuted this year, after all. But there will still be one more Mac upgrade in November, which will be to the smallest of the companies Macs – the Mac mini.

There is only one other product which would seem to be heading out of Cupertino this year, but not with an M2 chip inside. That is the latest, and possibly cheaper, version of Apple TV that I reported on in last week’s Appleviews newsletter.

Why no event?

Well, Apple are clearly gearing up to the ‘big one’, which will be the eventual release of the mixed reality headset in Q1 2023.

All the above releases that are still planned for this year, internally, are being viewed as more spec bumps, that don’t warrant the cost and expense of a full-blown event. Instead, all these products will be launched via their website, along with press releases to ensure they get good coverage from the tech hacks.

Fingers are being crossed

Outside of hardware, there is one other big software release that needs to happen with the new iPads, and that, of course, is iPadOS 16. Part of that bundle will be Stage Manager.

Stage Manager is Apple’s latest attempt at an improved multitasking experience for iPad users. This area has always caused consternation for Apple’s developers, and has been the biggest cause of dismay from heavy iPad users.

Even given Stage Manager’s buggy nature in beta releases, speaking with my friends at MacRumors, they are still convinced that Stage Manager will, as planned, ship with this falls iPadOS update. Speaking with them last week, they think Apple will probably hold back on including the long-awaited external monitor support, though. That continues to give Apple grief, so that particular option will follow in an update. But as Stage Manager is a feature you have to enable from control centre anyway, it seems pointless in Apple’s delaying its release any longer.

It may just as well be released, get real-time, user feedback, and then fix and sort the problems with updates.

M2 – wide of the mark?

So, as we’ve just seen, the M2 chip is, very much, pivotal for what is yet to come this year from Apple. But over the weekend, I started to wonder if Apple, privately at least, view the M2 chip as somewhat of a filler?

I mentioned earlier, that there appears to be no word on the street about an Apple silicon Mac Pro, which is odd. I realise that the Pro has other technical issues that may be hindering its release, such as modularity. But, if the past couple of years was to be our steer, then I’d have expected to see some iteration of the M2 chip in it.

The fact that Apple have delayed, and not used the M2 chip, makes me wonder if what we are witnessing, is the new future for Apple, and it’s chip cycle?

Apple silicon set the tech space on fire when it was first released a few years back, but the nature of the beast is, that others, such as Intel, will soon be catching up. The more conventional chip manufacturers, have an annual replacement cycle, but may be, Apple will take the bi-annual route instead.

Strength for that argument comes from the fact, that, for whatever reason, Apple have not felt that the M2 chip would suit the demands for Mac Pro. When the Pro finally does get debuted, it will have some form of M3 inside, I’d now imagine. So, as Fatback Band sang – is this the future?

Possibly, what we will become accustomed to from now on, is an alternate development plan. The big releases and major updates every other year with the full raft of iterations – the Pro, Max, Ultimate, and whatever they end up eventually calling the chip inside the Mac Pro – let’s call it the Zenith for argument’s sake. Then, in between, in an effort to keep a-pace of other chip developments, from other companies, they just make minor, incremental updates to the previous year’s base chips. So, then, those years in between, it will just be a new chip name/release and only the Max & Pro chips getting any sort of ’tweak’.

Wrapping up

What I’m saying, kind of makes sense…well, to me at least! Bear me out…

The two higher end, more pro-level chips will only ever be used in the Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Once we are that level of Mac, and the associated spend, the need for a yearly upgrade, disappears. When spending upwards of £4000, you’d expect companies, or individuals to be keeping those Macs for 3-5 years, to get a decent return on investment from their initial spend.

Whereas, if you are ‘only’ spending £1000 on a MacBook Air, a little speed bump and a few new glitzy features, will always have itself a market-place – be that students, casual surfers or those simply wanting the latest and greatest.

Am I bonkers, or actually on to something? You tell me…

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