In context: The iPad and tablets in general have seen a resurgence since last year as they're practical devices for many people to work and study from home. This growth has continued into the first quarter of 2021. Apple saw iPad sales jump almost 80 percent year-over-year. Now the company is looking at ways to modernize the look of certain models and align the design and features with those of the latest iPhones.
Apple made a huge splash earlier this year with a new iPad Pro that comes with a Mini LED display and is powered by the same M1 chip that's at the heart of new Macs. The latest iPad Air refresh looks strikingly similar to the iPad Pro, too, and has many of the features that made the latter a "Pro" model.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Cupertino giant is looking to differentiate the iPad Pro with a more premium design that will also support wireless charging. To that end, the company will switch to a glass back instead of the aluminum enclosure it uses across all tablets. This will also align the overall design and features with those of the iPhone, which has sported a glass back and wireless charging since the iPhone X and iPhone 8 in 2017.
With the iPhone 12, Apple revived MagSafe to reflect the company's take on how wireless charging should work. That technology is not perfect, but Apple is reportedly working on further refinements that could arrive as soon as next year.
The company is also testing reverse wireless charging for accessories like AirPods, but Bloomberg says this is still in the early stages of development so it may or may not make it into the next iPad Pro. If it does arrive, it could be accompanied by a MagSafe battery pack and a wireless charging mat that is less ambitious than the canceled AirPower, which suffered numerous technical issues during its development.
Image credit: Michael Ma
The iPad mini could also see its first redesign in six years that would bring it closer to the look of the rest of modern iPads. A larger display with slimmer bezels and no home button would be the most likely changes.
Apple is also working on a slimmer entry-level iPad, but that model will retain the home button and large bezels, while the mini could see Touch ID moved to the power button, similar to how it works on the iPad Air.
The last rumor is that of Apple experimenting with its own take of long-range wireless charging. However, that's likely in the early stages of testing and may never see the light in current form as it's both impractical and potentially hazardous. However, the company has been exploring ways to add Qi wireless charging capabilities to the MacBook cover and palm rest areas, which may have a slightly better have chance of becoming a reality.