Is this an unannounced iPad in a press photo?


Is this an unannounced 2024 iPad Air?
Is this an unannounced 2024 iPad Air? Well, no.
Photo: Vanity Fair

Some people think the first picture of Tim Cook wearing a Vision Pro also has a surprise: an iPad that Apple hasn’t released yet. But no. The tablet looks a bit odd, but that’s not because it’s a future one with a new design.

Here’s why.

No, Apple didn’t accidentally leave an unannounced iPad in a press photo

Leaks point to multiple iPads on the way this spring. That includes the first iPad Air with a 12.9-inch screen and a 13-inch iPad Pro with an OLED display. There’s a lot of anticipation for the tablets coming down the pike.

Some of that excitement spilled over onto an image published Thursday by Vanity Fair on the Apple Vision Pro. It shows Tim Cook in his office wearing the AR headset — and with a slightly odd-looking iPad sitting on his desk. The device left users scratching their heads.

“Can anyone identify this iPad?” asked John Siracusa from Accidental Tech Podcast. And Federico Viticci from MacStories replied, “I’ve tried all morning. That doesn’t look like an existing model to me.”

That quickly lead to speculation that it’s a photo of one of the as-yet unannounced iPads coming in March or perhaps April that had been accidentally left on Cook’s desk during the photo session with Vanity Fair.

True, the dimensions of the device look off — it seems to be more square than usual. Or perhaps the Apple Pencil is connected to the short edge of the iPad rather than the usual long edge.

However, my experienced eye can tell that this is the result of the Vanity Fair photographer using a wide-angle lens to pull in as much of Cook’s office as possible into their image. That tends to slightly distort objects on the edges of the picture.

And there are odd-looking openings on one edge. But these are the usual speaker holes that have been merged into one by the camera, not by Apple designers.

No, that’s likely a current 11-inch iPad Pro. The size of the Apple Pencil would seem to indicate that, anyway.

Apple doesn’t make this kind of mistake

Perhaps the most compelling argument against this being a sneak peek at an unannounced 2024 iPad is that Apple doesn’t make boneheaded mistakes like this. Stringent corporate policy prevents unannounced products from be left casually lying around for anyone to see.

Remember all those hilarious pictures of company execs wearing an Apple Watch in public in the year before the wearable was announced. No? That’s because there weren’t any.

Also, speaking as someone who has interviewed high-level executives for huge companies, I can say that nothing about the process is done casually. The Vanity Fair photog certainly didn’t snap this picture without a great deal of preparation.

It’s very unlikely the only people in Tim Cook’s office are him and the photographer. There’s surely someone from Apple’s PR department looking out for problems. And a team from that department carefully staged Cook’s office before the photog ever showed up — a man running a billion-dollar company has more on his desk that a glass of water, iPhone, AirPods, iPad and a HomePod. (And the ceramic Apple isn’t much help.)

It’s theoretically possible Cook and his team could have left a 2024 iPad Air out to be photographed as an Easter egg, but it’s unlikely. It would be out of character. Especially as the device in the Vanity Fair picture looks like an existing iPad Pro.


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