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WWDC 2024: This iPadOS 18 feature would make me switch to Apple's tablet immediately

Upgrading the display technology on the latest iPad Pro opens up a whole new use case. Here's to hoping Apple announces this simple yet transformative feature this week.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Apple iPad Air with keyboard case on purple background
Adam Breeden/ZDNET

Going into WWDC today, there are two products that may be the least of Apple's concern: the latest iPad Air and iPad Pro, both of which received design and performance upgrades just weeks ago. With the latter, an upgrade from LCD and Mini LED to an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display was the feature to watch for, and Apple delivered, leveraging a "Tandem OLED" assembly to achieve brighter visuals than traditional panels.

Also: iPad Pro (2024) review: Apple's most advanced tablet is no MacBook, and I'm okay with that

The integration of an OLED screen also benefits the new iPad in three ways: deeper blacks make colored pixels on the screen pop a little more, faster response times offer smoother visuals when watching sports and playing games, and more pixels turned off means more battery life.

Here's the other advantage of OLED that Apple, unfortunately, left out (though I'm hopeful things may change during WWDC): The ability to set an always-on display, presenting helpful information such as the time, weather, notifications, and more while the screen is idle. 

Apple has already done this with the iPhone and Apple Watch, and offering a similar software feature on the new, more capable iPads would be a sensible next step. Should Tim Cook be even more ambitious, such a feature could turn the iPad Pro into the ultimate smart home display.

Transforming a docked tablet into the control center of a smart home is nothing new; ZDNET's Maria Diaz has spent an unmeasurable amount of time putting that exact idea to the test. It makes sense: When you're not using your tablet, why not repurpose it into a smart display instead of setting it aside like a closed book?

Also: After 14 years, Apple will unveil a built-in iPad Calculator app at WWDC - reports

Docked or mounted, the iPad Pro could project a Home Kit menu, a music player, a video, a news feed, and even the Notes app as it already does. Then, when not in use, it could shift to always-on display mode (or StandBy Mode, should Apple transfer the feature to iPadOS), showing you the date and time, weather, and other glanceable information.

With Siri expected to receive an AI makeover during WWDC, it would only make the idea of the iPad Pro doubling as a smart home display more compelling. Beyond the iPhone, this would be Apple's way of getting its voice assistant better integrated with your lifestyle, whether you're cooking in the kitchen or working in the office.

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