While exploring the Setup app in iOS 12, 9to5Mac discovered an identifier referring to an iPad labeled “iPad2018Fall”. The identifier also added to a bevy of evidence and reports suggesting a new iPad Pro model is imminent.
That’s not the only hint about new iPads in the iOS 12.1 beta, though. First of all, 9to5Mac found a daemon running in iOS 12.1 that seems to suggest support for syncing Memojis across iOS devices. While some people do have multiple iPhones, not many do, and syncing like this most often helps users keep things squared between an iPhone and an iPad. Today’s iPads don’t support Memojis, but tomorrow’s might.
Further, developer Steve Troughton-Smith noted on Twitter that iOS 12.1 appears to include support for Face ID in landscape orientation. This would not be possible with existing iPhone hardware, suggesting that it might be coming in a future iPad with Face ID. He also pointed out an option for a virtualized 4K external display for the iPad Pro in Apple’s iOS simulator. This lends support to an analyst report that the iPad Pro would use USB-C, not Lightning, as its primary port. That is still far from certain, though.
Add to all that a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Alex Webb citing sources familiar with Apple’s plans, saying that a new iPad Pro is coming this year with an edge-to-edge display and the TrueDepth sensor array to power Face ID, and the discovery earlier of an art asset in iOS 12’s beta that depicted an iPad with reduced bezels.
It’s also worth noting that iOS 12 moved critical information in the status bar on iPads to the corners, leaving a gap at the top that is similar to the one that makes room for the TrueDepth sensor array in iPhone X and its successors. It is still possible that Apple simply made that change to make the iOS experience more uniform across devices, however.
The iPad Pro was last updated in June of 2017, and the standard iPad was updated earlier this year. This year’s iPad model got Apple Pencil support but not a whole lot else; it was intended to be affordable for use by education organizations, in competition with Chromebooks. Apple is trying to position the iPad Pro as a heavy productivity and creative machine, but it faces fierce competition from Microsoft’s Surface line and others.