Apple's May 7 iPad Pro and Air event won't include the rumored AI announcement, and nor should it

iPad Pro 12.9-inch in iMore freelancer's office
(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

We're now just a matter of days away from what will surely be an event that sees Apple unveil multiple new iPads. The rumors have been pretty consistent — two new OLED iPad Pro tablets in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes as well as a refreshed 11-inch iPad Air 6 to be joined by an all-new 12.9-inch version. And as May 7 gets closer, the rumors continue.

The latest rumor suggested that Apple's May 7 event wouldn't come and go without a mention of the current buzzword of the year. We've been hearing so much about Apple's plans for AI that it's difficult to know where fact ends and fiction begins. But it would appear that one report by CNBC might fall into the latter camp, albeit accidentally rather than the result of any malice.

CNBC had told us that Apple CEO Tim Cook intends to tease upcoming AI iPhone, iPad, and Mac features during the iPad event next week. But that, it appears, wasn't correct. And nor should it be — Apple should leave May 7 to hardware. With WWDC just around the corner, there's plenty of time for software news. And that's when the AI fun should really begin.

No AI for you ... yet

The original CNBC report originally explained that Cook had plenty to announce next week. "Cook also said Apple has 'big plans to announce' from an 'AI point of view' during its iPad event next week as well as at the company’s annual developer conference in June," but 9to5Mac notes that something went awry with CNBC's understanding.

The result? Cook never said that he would be ready to tease new iOS 18 AI features on May 7, which is actually good news. It never really made sense for Apple to mention anything that is effectively unrelated to what it's debuting. None of the AI upgrades are set to ship until September at the earliest, so why would they be teased next week? Instead, Apple would be much better served using the time to explain to customers what makes the new tablets — and new Apple Pencil 3 — so impressive. And ultimately, why they should rush out to buy them.

The one potential wrinkle here is the suggestion by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman that the new OLED iPad Pro could use an M4 chip, rather than the M3 we'd been expecting. The suspicion is that the M4 will have components specifically designed to enhance and accelerate AI features, something that seemingly won't come into play until September time at best.

It seems most likely that Apple will simply mention these innovations (if the M4 really does ship next week) and move on. Then, when iPadOS 18 is announced on June 10 it can spring the surprise that all new iPad owners can expect improved performance as a result of that shiny new silicon.

AI announcement or not, May 7 is set to be a big day. Apple didn't update any of its iPads last year, and this new OLED iPad Pro looks set to be a notable upgrade, M4 or not. And for those who want a big tablet without paying iPad Pro money, a 12.9-inch iPad Air seems just the ticket.

Now, we wait. May 7 can't come soon enough.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.