Category Archives: iPad Pro

Using the iPad Pro Without the Smart Keyboard

As an update to my previous post on everyday carry, I have been leaving the Smart Keyboard at home and bringing just the iPad Pro around with me. I thought that I’d get into the habit of bringing a stand around with me, but it had felt like just one more thing to bring around. So for the past few weeks it has been just the 12.9-inch tablet and the Pencil for occasional diagrams and a few handwritten notes.

It still surprises me how much more comfortable I find typing with the iPad Pro flat on a surface, or propped up on my legs. A typing stand like the Smart Cover or TwelveSouth Compass make it easier to view my text when there’s glare from the ceiling lights, but on the typing angle also forces me to tilt my wrists upwards. I can type comfortably for quite a while this way, but I inevitably walk way from the experience with some wrist pain or discomfort. Not being able to rest my fingers on the keys just makes typing on glass that much more fatiguing. Typing with the iPad completely flat isn’t as good as a physical keyboard, but it’s far easier on my wrists, and ultimately more enjoyable.

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Tapping and Typing

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was going to stop carrying the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard everyday, and I’ve been following through on that. I also carry a laptop to and from work, and the combination of the two devices is more than a 15″ MacBook Pro and charger.

I have been trying to do a better job of just using and not over-thinking the iPad Pro. That definitely happens naturally at home. I hate to repeat it, but it is a fantastic content consumption device. I use it almost daily for Netflix and podcasts, and I have pretty much stopped using my awesome UE Boom speakers because the iPad Pro already sounds good enough for music in the kitchen.

But when I’m out and about and want to handle longer form writing and messaging, this is where the iPad Pro slows me down when compared to my Retina MacBook Pro.

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Reflecting on Year One With the iPad Pro

I like the feeling of being prepared, and having devices along with me is my hi-tech version of a security blanket. I always have my phone, and most of the time, I’ll want to have a device with a larger screen for writing or longer browsing sessions. For the past year, that device has been the 12.9-inch iPad Pro because it was the lightest possible companion at the time.

One of the things I was eagerly awaiting were the new MacBook Pros that Apple announced last week. My current 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is about 3 years old at this point, and I was considering an upgrade to a newer, faster, and lighter model. For reasons of comfort, I was also thinking that, if the new MacBook Pros were light enough, a Mac may once again replace my iPad Pro as an everyday carry item. Macs support mice and trackpads and more keyboard shortcuts, so I can work on them for longer periods without feeling as much fatigue. I’d then leave the iPad at home for more home entertainment, drawing, and cooking-related tasks.

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The 12.9-inch iPad Pro as Everyday Carry

I use my iPad Pro a lot when I’m home. It’s a fantastic media player for the house and it makes it a breeze to edit photos in Lightroom on a gigantic screen. But after having given it some thought, the number of times I actually use my iPad Pro and keyboard at work can be counted on one hand. It’s my go-to device for creating diagrams and I like writing on it because it has Ulysses, but these are conveniences afforded by the iPad — not tasks that require the tablet specifically.

In the meantime, the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard add an extra 2.3 pounds of weight to my daily carry. This isn’t an issue when I carry a backpack around, but I can definitely feel the difference when I carry a messenger bag (which I prefer to do).

I’ve tried leaving the iPad Pro at home for a few days this past week, and frankly, I can get along just fine without it. My iPhone 6S Plus is big enough that I can pump out a 700-word article on it without too much discomfort. But I also feel that not bringing the iPad Pro around flies in the face of what I bought it for. It’s supposed to be a larger take-everywhere device that trades weight for a lot more comfort during longer work sessions.

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What If The iPad Pro Supported A Mouse

Last week’s post about the 12.9-inch vs. 9.7-inch form factor got me thinking about the what would make the iPad more comfortable for long term work. I came back to the idea of a mouse and how it enables me to use more complex sets of on-screen controls, without all the overhead of remembering a ton of keyboard shortcuts. I do love my keyboard shortcuts, but they’re not a do-all replacement for controlling apps.

It struck me the other day that one (seemingly) simple change to the iPad, especially the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, could be the addition of a pointer. Mouse or trackpad support would be fine.

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Reflecting on the 12.9-inch vs 9.7-inch Form Factor

Every once in a while, I’ll read a post about the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and wonder what could have been. I’ll look at my gargantuan 12.9-inch tablet and wonder if I’ve made the right choice (it would be 10 months too late, if so). Ben Brooks, who works exclusively off of iOS devices, just penned one of these kinds of posts about how the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the ideal size for most activities. I’d tend to agree with him.

More Space

I was really excited about the larger iPad Pro last year because I was curious to see — just as with the 6S Plus — what iOS could be if it had more room to play with. The answer, as it turns out, is simply more comfortable. Not necessarily more powerful.

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Using Web Apps Instead of Unoptimized iPad Apps

I understand that not all apps make it a priority to update for the iPad Pro; it’s not necessarily profitable for them to do so, and pumping an update out within a few months of the device’s announcement is tough. However, it’s now been nearly ten months since the release of the iPad Pro, and some of my most-used apps still aren’t on the ball.

TD and Facebook still aren’t updated to display properly on the iPad’s larger screen. Facebook Messenger works beautifully on the iPad Pro, but the main Facebook app does not. It’s ridiculous when you think about how large their budget must be.

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Typing In Portrait Mode On The iPad Pro


It actually never felt completely natural for me to hold an iPad up in bed to read because it felt too heavy to hold. Only the iPad mini 2 (around 0.75 lbs.) ever reached that weight threshold that felt forgettably light. But one way I’ve worked around that with the heavier iPad Pro (1.5 lbs.) has been to rest the entire device on my chest in portrait mode, for comfortable evening reading. I scroll so that text is always on the top third of the page, and there’s very little fatigue because I’m just angling the iPad, not holding it.

However, because I now use the iPad Pro in bed so often, I’ve run into another issue: it’s downright difficult to type on when you’re using the iPad in portrait mode. You definitely won’t write long messages (fair), but it’s not even suited for quick messages or URL in Safari.
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Yes, You Do Need Apple’s USB-C to Lightning Cable to Fast Charge an iPad Pro


It was my birthday recently and I asked for one of the most exciting presents that an iPad geek could request: a $49 29-Watt charger. Riveting, I know! When I work with the iPad Pro at my desk for extended sessions, the 12W charger can barely keep up with the iPad as I use it, which means that when I’m low on battery, I just stay low on battery. Laptop and smartphone chargers usually outpace me and provide energy faster than I can use it up, but that hasn’t been the case with the iPad Pro.

This $49 charger was actually designed for the 12-inch MacBook, but Apple also released a USB-C to Lightning cable earlier this year, which allows the 29W charger to work its magic on the larger iPad Pro. Based on Federico Viticci’s intensive fast-charge testing of the iPad Pro, this combo of 29W charger and USB-C to Lightning cable are supposed to cut charging times in half.

However, in an attempt to save a bit of money, I first tried using Apple’s USB-C to USB adapter, which is meant for making the USB-C port on the MacBook available to standard USB accessories. I was hoping that this charger would be smart enough to let an attached Lightning cable send more electricity to my iPad Pro, while still allowing me the flexibility of using my existing set of Lightning cables.

I took two days to test the USB-C to USB adapter and found that it made no difference to charging speed, despite being used with the 29W charger. The staff at the Apple Store weren’t sure about this, but now I am. There might be an inhibitor in the adapter itself that keeps too much electricity from flowing through, or there might be something special about the actual USB-C to Lightning cable that Apple released earlier this year. Either way, in order to take full advantage of fast charging, you really will need to buy the 29W charger and Apple’s 1 m USB-C to Lightning cable, or the more expensive 2 metre version.

I opted for the 2 m version just because I’ll want this able for scenarios where I’m using the iPad Pro just like I would a laptop. I’m sitting and working for a long period of time, and I want the battery to be at 100% when I’m done.

In my tests thus far, it’s taken me about 2 hours to go from 14% to 93%; and that’s while writing on this iPad, uploading 400 pics to Lightroom in Split View, and watching a video in PiP mode for about 20 minutes. I would barely have charged at all if this were the standard 12W charger, and that’s pretty sad.

So on the one hand, I’m pretty happy to have finally bitten the bullet and gotten this 29W + cable combo for fast charging. However, I’ll also admit that Apple has once again suckered me into paying *far* too much for such a basic accessory. Luckily, I’ve been having a really good time working, reading, and surfing on the iPad Pro over the past few months, and so this does feel like a worthwhile investment for my own enjoyment.

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9.7″ iPad Pro First Impressions

iPad Pro

This weekend I was finally able to update my iPad to a brand new 9.7″ iPad Pro.  I had been wanting to upgrade for a couple of years.  However, between my 15″ rMBP and my iPhone 6s Plus, I had been able to limp along using my iPad 3 since I acquired it in April of 2012. When the iPad 3 was first introduced along side iOS 5.1 it was the first version in the iPad family to utilize a retina screen.  Originally marketed as “the new iPad” owners like myself soon discovered that the new A5X chip was not adequate to move pixels around the screen without slowing the device down considerably.  In addition, this thicker iPad would run much hotter than its predecessor–an issue that was even harder to manage if you chose to put your iPad in a case.  Needless to say, this is a big jump for me, so keep that in mind when I seem extra excited about features that many iPad owners have had at their disposal for a couple of years.

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Taking It Easy With The iPad Pro


Considering the price of an iPad Pro, there can be an internal pressure to maximize the usage of the device. There’s a compulsion in me to try to do as much as I can on the iPad Pro: to edit more videos, manage photos, watch movies, and browse on the Pro. In order to do all of that, I need to bring the Pro everywhere. Well, I felt I needed to, anyway.

Everywhere was the de facto location of my last iPad, the iPad Air 2. That tablet had a 10–inch screen and weighed just a pound on its own. It was light enough that it was still a viable companion if I was bringing my laptop around for the day. In fact, the iPad Air 2 could really complement my 13–inch MacBook Pro as a great secondary screen for tasks or chats. The iPad Pro is different in this regard because it’s actually as wide as most laptops, which means that it will fill the width of a laptop bag, even though it isn’t very thick. The sheer size does make a discernible difference in how easy it is to carry the iPad Pro alongside my other daily carry items (canvas pouch with cables, camera).
However, a few weeks ago I decided to just relax more when it comes to my iPad usage, and I’ve been enjoying the device more ever since. Relaxing means that I don’t bring the iPad Pro with me everywhere that the Air 2 would have come, and that’s okay. Aside from having a stupendously large iPad, I also own a stupendously large iPhone 6S Plus. That’s more than enough for reading and browsing while I’m on transit, and it’s also great for editing photos on-the-go.

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