Unilateral Debate: The notch isn’t the iPad’s only option

5 June 2018

Welcome to today’s episode of One-Sided Discussions, the game show where contestants look at precisely one (1) possible explanation for everything they see and consider no other options! As you may know, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kickoff keynote was yesterday, and there were plenty of software features the company didn’t get the chance to demo. Today’s One-Sided Discussioner (no, that’s not a word but just roll with it) is Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, who’s looking at one of these unmentioned software features from the first developer beta of iOS.

“Brace Yourselves, the iPad is Getting a Notch”

… the launch of the iOS 12 beta this week indicates that we’ll see more than a simple performance upgrade to the iPad, with several changes in the operating system pointing to a new design that looks a lot more like the iPhone X.

Well, maybe. Probably. For the record, Uluroo thinks this is quite likely. But would he state this as a fact? No, that’s ridiculous. The iPad isn’t getting a notch until Apple announces a notched iPad. An iPhone X-esque iPad is one possible explanation of the facts we’re presented with here. Uluroo isn’t even trying to disprove Tanous’s point, he’s saying that this is being set up very one-sidedly. Why don’t we look at both of the two major ways this could play out?

It’s possible that all of the changes mentioned here are Apple’s attempt to adopt a more consistent UI scheme across its device line, or this may all be a mistake present in an early beta that will be removed over time. But it’s clear that Apple loves the iPhone X design, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Tim Cook & Co. take the stage later this year to announce a significantly redesigned iPad.

Disclaimer: This might be nothing more than completely off-base speculation, but thanks for the click on the headline that suggested this was fact, not theory.”

This acknowledgement is at the very end of the article, by the way. Jim takes no time to discuss the other possibilities as he notes the changes in iOS 12 and checks the “iPhone X-like iPad” box for each one of them. So what are these changes anyway?

Relocated Status Bar Clock

Possibility 1: Apple is giving the iPad a notch.

Possibility 2: This is just for aesthetic consistency across iPhone and iPad.

Congratulations. Nothing has been proven here. Uluroo prefers the look of the new status bar on any iPad, especially because the date is now shown in the top left. Uluroo doesn’t use an iPhone X, but this is definitely a way to create parity across devices. So yes, this might be proof of an iPad Pro X or whatever we’re calling it, but Jim has done nothing to discredit any other possibilities.

iPhone X-Like Gestures

Possibility 1: The iPad is getting a notch.

Possibility 2: This is for user interface consistency across iPhone and iPad.

Again, nothing has been proven. There’s nothing to suggest either possibility is more likely. If these gestures are intended for a redesigned iPad, why is Apple making them compatible with older iPad models? They didn’t do this with older iPhones in the time between iOS 11’s beta release and the iPhone X’s announcement. And these gestures also simply make it easier on iPhone X owners. But if this is comparable to the iPhone X’s release, the gestures should be exclusive to the high-end device. Uluroo would love to have iPhone X gestures on his iPhone, but Apple’s not doing it. So why would these new gestures be on the entirety of the iPad line when iOS 11’s gestures worked just fine? And why would Apple give away what seems to be a major selling point of the next iPad Pro so early?

Back in 2017, Apple didn’t say “Hey. There’s a new iPhone with a better user interface on the way. Here, have the gestures on your old devices.” It’s not saying that here either. New gestures are a dead giveaway for the iPad version of the iPhone X. What reason does Apple have to include them in the first beta of iOS 12? User interface consistency, that’s what. If anything these new gestures are evidence for a slim-bezeled iPad, not a notched one. This addresses the need for a Home button replacement, not that for a Touch ID replacement.

Multi-User Face ID?

You know it’s proof for a statement of fact when you have to put a question mark after it.

So Apple is positioning this initially as a way for a single user who may have two very distinct looks to still use Face ID in cases where the technology’s adaptive learning may have trouble. But the practical result is that Face ID in iOS now has the capability to support two separate users.

This wouldn’t make much sense for the iPhone, which is clearly a device intended for an individual user, but many families and groups share iPads, and having the ability to have two or more users unlock the device via Face ID would be a significant improvement.

That’s also the practical result for multi-finger Touch ID, but Apple still doesn’t position the iPad as being multi-user. It’s more multi-user with Touch ID than Face ID anyway because Touch ID supports more fingers than Face ID does faces.

With the exception of the Face ID point, these are all reasons Apple might be releasing a notched iPad this year. There are also multiple references to a “Modern iPad” and Face ID in the iOS source code. But none of this means the iPad will necessarily have a notch. The iPad’s bezels, even slimmed down, could be large enough to fit Face ID sensors without the need for a notch. And a notch would look pretty weird on an iPad — it would be narrower because it wouldn’t contain a speaker grille. The notch is not the only way to do an all-screen device.

Uluroo personally thinks the notch is most likely going to happen on the iPad. But he’s not going to type up an article that ignores other possibilities and doesn’t acknowledge the difference between theory and fact. Even if Tanous realizes that the notch isn’t the only option, he does too little to point it out, does nothing to disprove the other ways this could work out, and gives it a clickbaity title that states his speculation is set in stone.