Apples “Let Loose” Event: What Does Apple Have Up Its Sleeve?

One of the many invites Apple has issued for its May 2024 event dubbed 'Let Loose'

Apple’s first May event since the 1990s is a sign of big things to come for the iPad

The last time Apple held an event in May, was a long time ago back in 1999. The event itself was relatively insignificant in Apple’s history, but that appears to be far from the case in 2024. In what came as a complete surprise for the tech press, Apple issued invites for Let Loose a special event live-streaming on May 7th at 7:00 AM PT (2:00 PM GMT). Like all post-pandemic Apple events, this too will be entirely virtual and live-streamed for the press and public. It’s almost a no-brainer what Apple will announce at the event. If the Apple Pencil in the invite wasn’t a giant enough clue, it’s time for new iPads. 

Apple's invite for its May 2024 'Let Loose' event features the Apple Pencil
Apple’s invite for its May 2024 ‘Let Loose’ event features the Apple Pencil

Of course, the big question is why May? Apple routinely launches product refreshes in March, with its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) scheduled for June. May seems like an odd month for Apple, but perhaps the date has more significance under the hood. While the 1999 May event (WWDC conference) was a rather dull affair, that wasn’t the case in 1998. On May 6, 1998, Steve Jobs took to the stage to launch Apple’s first major product of his second innings – the iMac. It was the event that changed Apple’s fortunes and led to where we are today. So it is perhaps no surprise that Apple chose May 7th to launch its newest iPads. 

While 2023 saw a lot of product announcements, the iPad line was not one among them. Perhaps coincidentally, iPad sales fell 3% from 2022 to 2023, after declining 8% from 2021 to 2022. While there are a lot of reasons for this slump, including a larger decline in sales of tablets globally, perhaps one key factor that has left consumers wary is the chaos and confusion that is Apple’s iPad lineup.

The iPad Mess

Currently, Apple sells 4 tablets – the iPad Mini, the iPad, the iPad Air, and the iPad Pro. On the plus side, the entire slate now supports USB-C, but otherwise, the differences are both so little and too much at the same time, it can make buying an iPad a challenging experience for nontech geeks. The 10th Generation iPad, Apple’s entry-level device targeting students was last refreshed in October 2022 to move the front-facing camera from portrait to landscape. Shockingly, at the same time, Apple refreshed its iPad Pro lineup (6th Generation), but did not include the reoriented camera setup. Perhaps even more shocking, the 10th Gen iPad received an A14 Bionic chip, a SoC originally launched in 2020 with the iPhone 12 series. 

Apple also sells 3 variants of the Apple Pencil – a 1st Generation with Lightning, a 2nd Generation that charges wirelessly, and a 3rd Generation that uses USB-C. While the 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen Pencils largely work across the entire iPad line (barring the entry-level iPad), the multiple charging standards and feature set certainly (such as wireless pairing & charging) make for a good headache when purchasing an Apple Pencil. It is therefore perhaps no coincidence that Apple’s iPad lineup is long overdue for a refresh, one which clearly makes more difference between the models. Is the iPad Air a budget Pro or a supercharged iPad? Why does Lightning still exist when most of the entire ecosystem has moved to adopt USB-C? And why do we have a 64GB iPad option in 2024? These are all questions Apple needs to answer, and hopefully will with its Let Loose event.

Apple’s product page for its 3rd Generation Apple Pencil with USB-C

What to Expect

The answer to that question, is as always, a great mystery. There have been a few leaks preceding this event, but from what little we do know, it appears to be a big event for Apple. Digging into the code of iOS 17.4 beta, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted that we can expect a new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. The Pencil is most definitely on the list, with CEO Tim Cook even tweeting “Pencil us in for May 7.” Apple may sunset the 1st Gen Pencil and hopefully allow iPad owners to charge their Pencils without the need for more adaptors and wires. Beyond that, it’s unclear what we can expect from the Pencil, but if Cook is tweeting about it, one can expect it to be substantial. Likewise, one can hope that we get two standard keyboard options for the entire lineup, as opposed to the four we have now. Support for TouchID on the keyboard would be great, but apart from that it’s unclear how Apple can improve on a product that seems quite good.

In terms of the iPads themselves, it is rumored Apple will add landscape FaceID cameras to the iPad Pro, but no words on whether the iPad Air and Mini will receive the same treatment. Beyond that, expect the Pro’s to be upgraded with M3 chips and new cameras. It is likely that the iPad Air will receive a larger screen size with M2 chips and new colors if the invite is anything to go by. The entry-level iPad is also likely to receive a chip boost, but don’t expect it to be M1. As Apple; entry-level iPad, it is very likely to be the least powerful device on sale. As for the actual tech specs of the iPads, we will just have to wait and see. 

It is also possible we may get a refreshed iPad Mini. The 6th Generation Mini was launched in September 2021, what feels like a decade ago. The Mini is Apple’s most outdated iPad on sale currently, and is long overdue for a refresh. If one isn’t made, it’s likely Apple is sunsetting the Mini lineup. Since the company doesn’t break down sales by product, it is unclear just how popular the Mini is. It is also unclear just who the Mini is for. The use case for Apple’s smallest iPad has never been clearly defined, and that remains the case in an era when the iPhone Plus/Pro Max is almost as big and far more powerful. 

Apple’s iPad Mini last received a refresh in 2021 with the 6th Generation.

A Few Surprises

As with all things Apple, it is very likely there will be a surprise or two thrown in. One could be the announcement of the Vision Pro being available in more countries. According to The Independent’s Andrew Griffin, Apple will follow up its Let Loose event with a smaller event in London, likely for the press. This would make perfect sense as Apple is likely to preview visionOS 2 at WWDC in June. Making the Vision Pro more widely available would help ahead of that announcement, especially after a reported slump in sales and an increase in returns of the device. The London event is expected to give UK journalists some hands-on time with the new iPads and the Vision Pro. 

With 4 iPad models to update, it is very unlikely we are going to get time for any other announcements, but it is always worth keeping an eye out for what Apple doesn’t announce. With WWDC so close by, the iPad announcements are very likely to hint at iPadOS 18 and the feature set the new software will bring. Rumour has it Apple is working with a host of 3rd party vendors including OpenAI and Google to bring AI-powered smarts to its software. If that is the case, it is very likely the hardware will showcase just how this will work. Perhaps Apple may introduce an Action Button to the iPad lineup? If the iPad Air receives a secondary camera like the iPhones, it could enable more powerful computer vision, indicating some AI-powered augmented reality experiences coming to iPadOS 18. Most importantly, it is wise to keep an eye on the Apple Pencil. If Apple were to launch a stylus with a capacitive button or more robust touch-based gestures, it could hint at more powerful editing and drawing software coming to the iPad. 

How To Watch

The Let Loose event will be live-streamed on Apple’s website and YouTube channel. You can also catch the live stream on the Apple TV app if you are so inclined. The event starts at 7:00 AM PT/ 2:00 PM GMT/7:30 PM IST and will last approximately 2 hours. We will also be providing an in-depth analysis after the event if you’d like to know what the announcements mean for you and which device you should buy. For now though, avoid picking up a new iPad, even if you really need it. 2024 is going to be a big year for the iPad.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here