Apple's Interactive iPad Event Teaser: Pro And Pencil Upgrades On Tap

The event invite from Apple strongly suggests that new iPads are coming Tuesday. Also, a brand-new Pencil.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein
3 min read
iPad Pro rear cameras, alongside Apple Pencil

It's been over a year since we've seen a new iPad model.

Scott Stein/CNET

There hasn't been a new iPad since 2022, but Apple seems likely to change tomorrow. All signs point to the release of new iPad models very soon, but think high-end Pro models rather than affordable kid devices.

Apple's virtual event, which streams Tuesday, May 7, at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET), is already heavily hinting at a big Apple Pencil stylus upgrade. The invite, which says "Let Loose," shows a drawing of a hand holding an Apple Pencil. On Apple's site, the interactive teaser can be erased with your finger or a trackpad/mouse. Considering the iPad is the only device that uses the Pencil, that doesn't leave much to the imagination.

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted this GIF for the virtual event to X on Tuesday morning.

Apple/Amy Kim/CNET

There's more, though. Apple's been expected to release new OLED-screened iPad Pros with newly designed Pencils and Magic Keyboard cases. New iPad Airs are also expected, including a larger-screened 12.9-inch model. Apple's iPad Air lineup tends to be slightly redesigned versions of previous-model iPad Pros, so just look to the M2 iPad Pro lineup for a sense of what the next Airs could be. These would be the first new iPads since the iPad Pro M2 model arrived in late 2022.

But Apple is also reported to be unveiling a brand-new chip, the M4, that could be part of the company's next-wave plans to infuse more on-device AI services across the hardware lineup. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who tends to be spot-on with advance reports, suggests it's all part of a big upgrade to turn the iPad Pros into more laptop-like devices. The new Magic Keyboard, with a more laptop-like base design, looks to be part of that too.

Apple unveiled its M3 processor last fall, which makes an M4 chip reveal now seem premature. It would also be a first to have an iPad debut the next-gen processor instead of a Mac, although the very first iPad Pro models had specialized chips with added graphics processing power, too.

event invite with a colorful stylized drawing of the Apple logo with a hand holding an Apple Pencil

Apple's virtual invite shows an Apple Pencil.


Budget iPads aren't expected to be on tap here: Both the entry-level iPad and iPad Mini may not get updated until sometime in the fall. In the meantime, Apple will likely push new creative uses for its higher-end iPads, and justify what could end up being a significantly higher price for the revamped OLED-screened models. The Air models should get M2 processors similar to the last-gen iPad Pros, and all the iPads should finally have front cameras centered on the landscape edge for better-framed video chats when docked with a keyboard, like the 10th-gen iPad has (and all MacBooks).

The new Pencil, possibly a "Pencil Pro," could be the star of the show. Gurman reports the new stylus will have vibrating haptic feedback and new gestural inputs. Maybe it'll be a peripheral that can be used with older-model iPad Pros, too.

Watch this: What to Expect at Apple's May 7 iPad Event

There are two open-ended questions I have: Will iPads and Pencils become more hooked-in to the Apple Vision Pro? And will iPads become more of a Mac replacement than they currently are? The answer to both is probably no for now, but with Apple's software-focused WWDC conference only a month afterwards, it's an interesting time to release new pro hardware.