Following the announcement of the new M1 iPad Pro and M1 iMac on Tuesday, Apple executives John Ternus and Greg Joswiak have sat down with the Independent for an in-depth interview. The two Apple executives spoke in the interview about Apple’s plans for the iPad and Mac, the new features of the 2021 iPad Pro, and more.
On merging the iPad and Mac
The most notable comments during the interview came from Joswiak, who serves as Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. When asked about the future of the iPad and Mac, as the lines start to blur in terms of power, Joswiak explained that Apple has no plans to merge the two platforms.
“There’s two conflicting stories people like to tell about the iPad and Mac,” says Joz, as he starts on a clarification that will lead him at one point to apologise for his passion. “On the one hand, people say that they are in conflict with each other. That somebody has to decide whether they want a Mac, or they want an iPad.
“Or people say that we’re merging them into one: that there’s really this grand conspiracy we have, to eliminate the two categories and make them one.
“And the reality is neither is true. We’re quite proud of the fact that we work really, really hard to create the best products in their respective category.”
(Joz, however, is reluctant to name the category he’s talking about: he jokes that he “can’t even stand using” the word, because the “iPad is better than tablets”. “I hate to diminish it by calling it the category name,” he says.)
Ternus, who is Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, echoed Joswiak’s sentiment. He explained that Apple does not look at things with the lens limiting what one device can do in order to note “step on the toes” of another device.
“But we’re just going to keep making them better. And we’re not going to get all caught up in, you know, theories around merging or anything like that.”
“We don’t think about well, we’re going to limit what this device can do because we don’t want to step on the toes of this [other] one or anything like that,” he says. “We’re pushing to make the best Mac we can make; we’re pushing to make the best iPad we can make. And people choose.
“A lot of people have run both. And they have workflows that span both – some people, for a particular task, prefer one versus the other.
On the new iPad Pro’s M1 chip
When asked about the M1 processor in the new iPad Pro and the software part of that story, Joswiak explained that Apple has “provided that performance even before the need was there.”
“It needs to exist first, right? You can’t have an app that requires more performance than the system’s capable of – then it doesn’t work. So you need to have the system be ahead of the apps.
Joswiak went on to list examples of powerful third-party apps from companies like Adobe and Affinity, but he wouldn’t say whether Apple was working on its own ways to tap into the new power of the M1:
(When asked again, the morning after the reveal, whether Apple is one of those developers that is planning to take advantage of the extra headroom with its professional app, Joz jokes that he’s not going to let something like that slip out.)
Joswiak also explained that this gives users more headroom and ensures their new iPad Pro purchase “isn’t going to be immediately obsolete.”
On mini-LED in the new iPad Pro
Terns also provided some interesting detail on the mini-LED display in the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. He explained that one of the biggest undertakings in this process was shrinking the display technology — which is also used in the Pro Display XDR — into the 12.9-inch form factor.
“Shrinking it was a huge undertaking,” says Ternus. “If you just look at the two products, obviously the iPad is a lot thinner than a Pro Display XDR, and the way the architecture works – you have the LED backlight behind the display.
As you shrink it down, you necessarily need to add more LEDs; you need to kind of increase the density, because you don’t have as much room for mixing the light and creating zones.
From the very beginning it was: how do we create a backlight with sufficient density? So we had to design a new LED. We had to to design the process for putting down 10,000 LEDs on this backlight in this incredibly precise manner.”
Ternus and Joswiak also noted that one of the reasons Apple is able to make technological leaps like this is because it develops so much of the technology in-house.
On the new Center Stage front-facing camera technology in the iPad
One of the most interesting new features of the 2021 iPad Pro is something called Center Stage. The new iPad Pros pack a 12MP Ultra Wide camera sensor on the front, and Apple is using this to follow users during video chats to ensure that they are always in the frame.
“One of the things that I found really cool about it is – spending all this time in these meetings, you sit a lot,” says Ternus. “And it’s so liberating to be able to just stand up and stay framed in the image, and stretch and move around and sit down,” he says, noting that it is a neat way to still be able to close rings on the Apple Watch.
“And one of the things I found sometimes is in group scenarios – you may be FaceTiming with your family and be able to get the family in the frame, or those kind of things, I think are going to be really, really big and powerful. It’s certainly an amazing technology for the times we’re in.”