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Think the new iPads are boring? Wait until you see the iPhone 16

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it's cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.

A long wait, no surprises

The problem with big build-ups is they create big expectations.

Apple kept us waiting longer than ever before for its latest batch of iPads. It went an entire calendar year with no updates, for the first time in the product's history, and then delayed the announcement for a few extra months because of production problems. By the time the invitations dropped into our inboxes, Apple obsessives were ready for something huge to justify the long wait and the dedicated event… with the inevitable result that the new iPad Air and Pro ended up as a bit of anticlimactic.

The M2 iPad Air is a workmanlike refresh that pretty much nobody should buy. And while the M4 iPad Pro is a more ambitious hardware upgrade, featuring a Castlevania-style double jump on the processor and an exceptionally skinny chassis, most reviewers agree that Apple hasn't changed what needed to be improved: iPadOS. (Perhaps the company will have good news for us on that front at WWDC next month.) Even now, this reporter's advice to almost all potential buyers would be to ignore the new models and buy the 10th-gen iPad from 2022, which just got a handy price cut and is also, as a bonus, available in a stunning pink.

Then again, the iPad has been Apple's problem child for a while now. Rather unhelpfully, tablet owners have split into two camps: those who use their iPads to check emails on the sofa and therefore have incredibly low requirements; and creative professionals who use them to edit 8K video and have incredibly high requirements. With the former rarely if ever bothering to replace their devices and the latter comprising a very niche group, neither represents a healthy revenue stream. And until society at large changes its approach to the tablet form factor, it's hard to imagine that even if Let Loose was the most exciting and successful iPad launch in history-one, for example, that did not feature an ad that annoyed a good proportion of the people who watched it-would have moved the dial very far in terms of unit sales.

The fact is, however, that most of Apple's product lines appear to be running out of inspiration at roughly the same time. And if you found Let Loose uninspiring, you should probably get used to it.

The iPhone 16, for example, is nailed on to be the focal point of Apple's year, at least in terms of commercial importance. But what can we expect from this lodestar device? Based on the rumor mill we're getting new processors (obviously), a fractionally larger screen, a slight change to the way the rear cameras are arranged and improved low-light performance, a new Capture button and potentially solid-state buttons elsewhere, and maybe Wi-Fi 7. None of which are exactly radical… and bear in mind that rumors are far more likely to overstate the magnitude of imminent upgrades than to understate them.

I don't mean this, by the way, as yet another criticism of Apple's supposed lack of innovation; it's not like other smartphone manufacturers are blowing us away either. I simply think that many of the consumer devices that have underpinned Apple's success across the past decade or so-laptops, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches-are simultaneously hitting a point where most of the significant improvements have already been made and we're left with iterative tweaks. The first few iPhone releases were exciting precisely because the devices were so comparatively poor, from screen legibility to camera performance: there were problems to solve and low-hanging fruit to pluck. The iPhone 15 is too good a phone for the iPhone 16 to be anything other than a pale retread. Which is a bad thing for Apple's accountants, but good for the rest of us.

This isn't to say either that there are no items of interest rolling down Apple's conveyor belt; it's just that the commercially significant stuff, almost by its nature, lends itself to cautious iteration. Whereas Vision Pro is a fascinating and gloriously flawed product that will undergo a series of massive improvements in subsequent generations. And Apple's first steps into the world of AI, also expected to be announced at WWDC (if only in part, so key elements can be held back for the iPhone 16 launch), should see similar missteps and recoveries that we can all enjoy. There's still fun to be had. You just need to look in the right places.

The iPad Air only exists to sell other iPads.

Apple shouldn't have apologized for its controversial iPad Pro 'Crush' ad.

Apple's rare iPad misstep is a symptom of a much larger problem.

Worried about another iPad Pro Bendgate? Apple wants you to relax.

Dan Moren asks the big question: Are we in Apple's post-iPad era?

The 10th-gen iPad is everything Apple's SE devices should be.

Here's one more reason you should get a nano-texture glass iPad Pro.

Podcast of the week

How fast is Apple's new M4 chip? What's the cost of breaking the screen for the new iPads? Was Apple's latest ad oppressive? We talk about the latest iPad news in this episode of the Macworld Podcast!

You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.

Reviews corner

The rumor mill

The long wait for the next iPad mini might be even longer.

Shocking report claims the next iPad Air will have an M3 chip.

Software updates, bugs, and problems

Warning: iOS 17.5 may resurface deleted photos.

Apple says it's working on a fix for an M4 iPad Pro HDR screen glitch.

Report: iOS 18 to get a big AI boost with ChatGPT integration.

iOS 17.5 is out now with tracker detection, News updates, and lots of security fixes.

And with that, we're done for this week's Apple Breakfast. If you'd like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.

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