Apple is making the next-generation iPad more like the iPhone X. Rumors suggest its flagship tablet, due in late 2018, will borrow Face ID, sport a similar nearly bezel-less display, and drop the home button altogether.
iPad To Get Major Redesign In Years
The removal of the home button means that the next iPad might also employ gestures for navigation. The iPhone X requires different kinds of swipes to access either the home screen, invoke the multitask tray, or switch between apps. But given the significantly larger screen real state of the tablet, it's possible Apple could implement a different gesture-based navigation system optimized for bigger screens. After all, iPads running iOS 11 already feature a bottom app dock, like on macOS, which makes app switching via gestures unnecessary.
But unlike the iPhone X, Bloomberg reports that the iPad in question won't have an OLED display, which provides greater clarity and more vivid colors than typical LCDs. Reasoning remains vague, but Apple is possibly trying to avoid manufacturing issues associated with the Samsung-made display that now plague the iPhone X.
OLED displays are out of the question because of "technical and financial constraints." Samsung produces high-resolution OLEDs for its Galaxy tablets and the 12-inch Galaxy book, but those don't sell at nearly the scale iPads do. So, "technical constraints" would likely be whether the South Korean company can manufacture enough screens to meet iPad-level demand.
Differences Between Next Year's iPad Lineup
It's typical for Apple to release various iPad models within a year. That trend will likely continue in 2018 — however, not all models will feature Face ID, just the flagship one. Owners will be able to use it as a way to unlock the device, make payments, and send animojis. Basically, it'll replace Touch ID as the main biometric feature, which has been on iPads since 2014.
Suppose such rumors are accurate, it'll mark the first major iPad redesign since its introduction. The iPad's aesthetic really hasn't changed all that much, save for variations in build quality, material, and thickness. Sure, Apple reduced the bezels in the 10.5-inch model that went on sale in June, but a nearly bezel-less iPad without a home button is unprecedented.
Bloomberg says the iPad has been Apple's second-largest product line since 2015. But demand for the tablet waned and global sales declined 17 percent in the past three years. Worse, revenue fell behind sales from its services and Mac computers.
An iPad with a brand-new look and an innovative facial recognition system could fuel hype for Apple's tablets again, while simultaneously expanding the reach of Face ID.
Other details remain a mystery. Will there be dual cameras, portrait lighting, and wireless charging? Will it be powered by Apple's new A11 Bionic chip? Time will tell.