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The iPad needs a big software refresh at WWDC 2022

OPINION: We’re just days away from Apple’s 2022 WWDC opening keynote and most of the murmurings about what we might see revolve around the MacBook Air M2 and possibly an early look at the Apple Mixed Reality Headset.

Of course, I would be intrigued if either of those devices make an appearance – but the joy of WWDC is, for me, the announcement and detailing of new software updates. New versions of iOS, watchOS and macOS should all be revealed during Monday’s keynote address and these should be the highlights.

Software updates are great as they bring features and tricks to devices people already own, rather than making them fork out hundreds, or thousands, for new tech. They can add new functionality, correct mistakes and open doors to expanded possibilities.

For me, the one device in Apple’s range that needs a big software refresh is the iPad. Apple’s slate is comfortably the best tablet around – whichever model you plump for – but it’s currently suffering something of an identity crisis. The top-end Pro is as powerful as many of the best laptops on the market, blowing out benchmark tests and toting up to 16GB of memory and Apple’s supremely capable M1 chip.

Front on view of the iPad Air 2022

It’s a powerful beast, yet it doesn’t utilise much of that grunt. Apple hasn’t ported any of its Pro apps to the device, and the speed of even the cheapest iPad makes that still a good pick to take advantage of some of the more capable apps on the App Store.

With so much to offer, the iPad Pro could easily be a true laptop replacement. And for this to happen we don’t need a new model – we just need software and specially developed apps that can put that power to use. It seems so simple.

I feel like I say this every year, but the next version of iPadOS could change the direction of the iPad forever with just a few tweaks and by allowing the Pro iPad to offer something different to the other best iPads.

There are so many features I would love to see make their way over to iPadOS. The ability to have multiple users on each device, allowing families to share an iPad easily without faffing around with logging in and out all the time should be a basic feature but it remains absent.

Multitasking on the iPad remains a fiddly experience and this becomes even more obvious when you’re trying to use an iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. Apps that can be manually resized should at least be an option for those who would utilise them.

But the real key is giving the iPad Pro a reason for existing. The hardware upgrades over the Air aren’t currently enough, and Apple needs to focus on a software update that can finally unleash the power on these high-end iPads and make them the true MacBook rival they should be.

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