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As usual, no sooner does Apple finish getting one major product release out the door than rumours appear about the next generation of that same product. We see this on an annual basis with each iPhone lineup, and now it looks like it’s time for us to start hearing about the next iPad Pro model.
Less than three weeks have passed since the 2021 M1-powered iPad Pro arrived in stores, and now Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman already has the scoop on what Apple plans to do for an encore, and it looks like it’s time for another bold move.
After all, even though the 2021 iPad Pro embraced Apple’s M1 chip, added 5G capabilities, and introduced a new mini-LED display on the 12.9-inch version, the actual design has remained unchanged from the original 2018 version.
That may soon change, however, with Gurman reporting that Apple is planning to bring wireless charging to the iPad for the first time — a move that would necessitate switching from the traditional aluminum casing to an all-glass back.
While this may not be the sole reason for switching to glass, Gurman notes, it’s definitely part of Apple’s strategy. The other factor is simply bringing the design more in line with the iPhone, which has used a glass back since wireless charging was first added in the 2017 models.
Reverse Wireless Charging
Perhaps not surprisingly, Gurman adds that the new iPad Pro design would also feature a similar MagSafe system to the one introduced on the iPhone 12, allowing inductive chargers to be matched up perfectly with the iPad’s internal coils for maximum charging efficiency, thereby enabling the fastest possible charging — at speeds of 15W or perhaps even beyond.
That said, Apple’s wireless charging speeds, even with MagSafe, are still expected to pale in comparison to plugging a cable directly into the Thunderbolt port, which Gurman confirms will not be going away any time soon.
More significantly, however, the MagSafe system will also help to deliver proper reverse wireless charging — something that Apple has reportedly been working on for several years.
While previous rumours have pointed to this as an iPhone feature, it arguably makes more sense for Apple to bring it to the iPad first, since the larger internal battery would offer much more power for charging other devices.
In fact, many iPad Pro users may not realize that they can already charge their iPhone or AirPods from the USB-C port on the iPad Pro, although it doesn’t deliver enough charging current to power Apple’s MagSafe charger.
Stepping into a Wireless Future
What’s more interesting, however, is that Gurman suggests Apple hasn’t entirely given up on the concept of an AirPower-like charging mat, and it’s easy to see how a larger charging mat would be more desirable for a device the size of an iPad.
It’s unclear whether a new AirPower would be nearly as ambitious as the original, which was designed with multiple overlapping coils to allow for easy placement. Apple could avoid the challenges that plagued its original AirPower by using multiple MagSafe rings instead. This would still guarantee the proper alignment of MagSafe-compatible devices by letting them effectively snap into position when placed on the mat.
Even MagSafe may just be a stop on the road to a truly wireless future, however, as Gurman adds that Apple is also “investigating alternative wireless charging methods that can work over greater distances” similar to some of the revolutionary technology we’ve already seen.
Although several startups have been promising this kind of wireless charging since 2016, it’s obviously not as simple as it seems. According to Gurman it will likely be several years before Apple even has the technology ready for an actual product.
Even the next iPad Pro with wireless charging is said to be in the very early development stages, so Apple’s plans could still change, but if it continues down this road it seems we could see it arrive as soon as next year, when Apple will presumably be releasing the 2022 iPad Pro.