Category Archives: iPad Pro

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.

Continue reading

Share This:

On Recommending the Larger 12.9–inch iPad Pro…

  
I’ve already written a little about the smaller iPad Pro, but I had an interesting discussion about it this past week. My sister’s 13–inch MacBook Air has been on its last breath for quite a while now, and it’s finally just about to give up the ghost. It no longer really holds a charge and is so slow she can’t even load her pictures into Lightroom any more. This will leave her crucially — for the first time in her adult life — without a computer of her own to use.

We had a talk about what her next purchase might be, and I thought it would be about the type of MacBook she should buy. However, her first question was actually about the iPad Pro: which one should she get? The larger 12.9–inch iPad Pro that I own, or the smaller 9.7–inch iPad Pro? 

As an owner of the larger iPad and a regular writer on this site, you’d think I’d have told her about the merits of going iPad-only and the amazing comfort of the larger screen. My iPad Pro really is the most comfortable iPad I’ve ever used when it comes to long stretches of time at a desk. However, as I started to think about what other selling points (4 GB of RAM, USB 3 transfer speeds, high-res display), none of them really felt like they’d really change her experience. The RAM is useful for Split View, but aside from Graphic and Safari, the apps I run really aren’t very memory intensive. The USB 3 transfer speeds have yet to mean anything to me because I can’t transfer my camera’s video to the iPad.

Continue reading

Share This:

Halfway Point: Field Testing the iPad Pro For Photo Editing

  

I wrote last week about taking my iPad Pro for a field test as my only travel computer. I’ve shot nearly 1000 shots in Tokyo so far, and the vast majority have been edited on the iPad Pro as I get back to my room at the end of the day. I don’t make as many stops during the daytime as I thought I would, so the only reasonable time for me to lock my camera down is the end of each day.

This makes it easier to transfer photos over, since I can simply specify that I want to transfer all images from today, instead of picking them out one by one. I had thought about picking up a USB 3 SD Card reader for this trip, but since it still doesn’t allow me to transfer Sony XAVC-S videos over to the iPad, It just didn’t feel like it was worth the money. Thankfully, Sony’s PlayMemories app has been behaving really well and handling transfers of over 100 pictures in one session. I usually start the transfer, surf for about five minutes, and come back to all of the pictures on my iPad.

Continue reading

Share This:

I Welcome This Second, Smaller iPad Pro!

(null)
The iPads Pro tell an interesting story, and I am very happy to see that Apple doesn’t think of the 12.9–inch Pro as the only iPad capable of doing “serious work”. As an owner of the first 12.9–inch model, I have to say that even I was tempted when I heard about this new smaller version of the iPad Pro. As amazing as it is to have this gigantic display to read off and create with, it can also be quite an imposing figure on a desk.  

Ten–inch Tablets

The 9.7–inch iPad Pro is more in line with the iPad Air 2 in terms of size and weight, and that device was had a form factor I really really enjoyed. It was just light enough to hold with one hand for reading and browsing, but it was still large enough to enjoy comics and movies on.

There are definitely some things I miss about that display size. Surfing in bed was a little easier because I still had the thumb keyboard. I can still type while lying down on the larger iPad Pro, but there’s a massive difference in how far my finger has to travel to type a simple URL out. A thumb keyboard on the Air 2 was definitely way easier, and I’m hoping it makes a return on the smaller iPad Pro.

I can also see this 9.7–inch iPad Pro making a superb replacement for a notebook. It’s a great size to write on, and it’s small enough to quickly and easily whip out of a bag so that you’ll actually have it at-the-ready. The larger iPad Pro just isn’t that kind of machine any more. I could cradle it on my lap and write at a cafe, but its larger size means it’s no longer the public transit-friendly device. I genuinely believe that the Apple Pencil and smaller iPad Pro will unlock a whole new use case for tablets. It looks like great combo of size and utility.

Continue reading

Share This:

Apple introduces the 9.7″ iPad Pro

iPad_Pro

Today at Apple’s Loop you In  Keynote we got our first look at the newest member of the iPad Pro family.  The 9.7″ iPad Pro embodies all the advances of its bigger sibling.  With the addition of speakers in every corner that automatically adjust the high frequency to the top speaker no matter what the orientation there’s never a wrong way to hold your iPad.  Apple’s included its most advanced processor to date–the 64-bit A9X chip.  Now you can achieve CPU performance that is almost 2X that of the iPad Air 2, and edit 4k video that is smooth and responsive. This means that graphics also receive a nice bump allowing for even more fluid visuals and rendering that produce detailed animations.

Continue reading

Share This:

Pencil-Optimizing iOS


As I continue to use the Pencil with the iPad Pro, I can’t help but compare it to some of the 3D Touch features on my iPhone 6S Plus. Both devices use extra bits of technology to register and calculate force — and both devices can react at the OS-level to differing applications of force. The iPad Pro can’t have 3D Touch in the same way as the iPhone can because it lacks the pressure sensors built into its screen, but there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping it from integrating similar features via the Pencil. However, what should those features be?

Previewing Links

If you’re a Mac user, then Peek and Pop is like the iOS equivalent of Quick Look. You press on an icon or item to see a small preview window, and then press harder to actually launch into that window.

There are areas of iOS were this feature still feels a little gimmicky. I won’t need to peek into an email or a chat within iMessage on the iPad Pro because I usually use the device in landscape, so the sidebar will always display on the left side. There would be no appreciable difference in these kinds of apps.

However, I would love to be able to preview links within Safari with Peek and Pop. As I discussed previously, surfing in Safari is made more comfortable with the Pencil, and I think link previews would be a very natural addition to the app. I imagine pressing on a link would expand it to take up the Safari screen, and pressing a little harder would simply load it fully as the current page (requiring me to pres the “Back” button if I wanted to revisit my previous page).

Continue reading

Share This:

Field Testing The iPad Pro For Mobile Photo Editing

  
I’m writing this post from the airport in the newly released Ulysses 2.5 (review coming soon!). I’m heading to Tokyo for a few weeks of vacation and a ton of picture-taking. In the weeks before this trip I started shooting more of my photos in RAW + JPEG. If you’re not familiar with RAW files, they’re basically vanilla versions of your camera’s pictures, but with more visual data preserved in the background. As a result, you can tweak and play with RAW photos to much greater extent than you can with JPEGs (where you’ll start to see noise and blown highlights much sooner). There are two downsides to RAW, though: 

  1. RAW files take up more space. My Sony A6000 takes 24 Megapixel shots, and each one is about 6.0 MB as a JPEG. Those same shots are 22-24 MB as RAW (.ARG) files.
  2. RAW isn’t well supported on iOS at all.

These two factors led me to consider bringing my Retina MacBook Pro on this trip, in lieu of the iPad Pro. It would have been heavier to lug around on a daily basis, but Photos on OS X will let me edit RAW files, whereas Photos on the iPad Pro can only tweak JPEGs.

Continue reading

Share This:

How The iPad Pro Fits In With My Other Devices

I’ve decided to keep this iPad Pro after all, and that decision has mainly come down to the joy of note-taking with the Pencil. It really is that good, and I like the simplicity of placing one device into my bag that will act as a writing machine + notebook. This iPad Pro’s screen is also large enough to let me review my notes and current draft, simultaneously, just like I could with an Air 2 and paper notebook.

It still disappoints me that I can’t properly import XAVC-S video to the iPad Pro, but I’m basically letting go of the notion that an iPad Pro can replace my current Retina MacBook Pro. I’ve decided that is not a problem for me as long as there’s a clear differentiation between what each of my devices specializes in. With this iPad Pro, I’ll have three tiers of device:

  1. A 128 GB iPhone 6S Plus that I carry everywhere. It functions as a great stills and video camera, quick note-taking in the field, and a primary music player. It does a lot more than this, of course, but these are its major strengths.
  2. A 128 GB iPad Pro Wi-Fi which always comes with me in my bag. Works for 80–85% of what I’d use my MacBook Pro for, and provides the screen size and comfort of a laptop as well. It also replaces my notebook and pens for sketching and writing notes out by hand.
  3. A 256 GB Retina MacBook Pro (2013) that functions as my primary home computer. I roll it out for intense formatting of documents (which Word on iOS can’t handle), as well as video importing and editing.

I could bring the MacBook Pro with me everywhere, but its weight and size are what stop me from doing so. I like to keep my loadout as light as possible, so I’m very careful about what I place in my bags. The MacBook’s thickness makes it difficult to fit my camera alongside it in my lighter bags, and, at 3.5 lbs., it’s heavy enough that I can’t forget I have it with me. The iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard weigh in it around 2 lbs., which is 1.5 lbs. savings over bringing the MacBook around. That’s a noticeable difference over an afternoon of walking.

Continue reading

Share This:

The Apple Pencil Enhances Note-Taking On The iPad Pro

Pencil - notetaking

On the whole, I think most reviewers have been too dismissive of the Apple Pencil. There’s no question in my mind that the Apple Pencil is a boon to digital artists. The pinpoint accuracy and the incredible palm rejection make for the very best drawing device I’ve ever used on iOS, but I think the Pencil has a wider appeal than that.

There are lots of pen-and-paper users out there, and I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time and money over the past year in an effort to become one. I acknowledge how silly that sounds, but digital has always been a more comfortable medium for note-taking than a paper notebook, at least as far as I’m concerned. Digital notes can be tagged, duplicated, and synced to any of my devices. I also type far faster than I can write.

But there is no denying there’s a romantic aspect to writing with a real pen, even to a zero-and-one digital loyalist like myself. The scratchiness of a fountain pen on good paper, the sensation of posting a cap before you write, and the way the ink flows over the page — all of these sensations are satisfying in a similar way to typing on a great keyboard. There’s a lot to delight in when you’re writing with quality tools.

This is where the Pencil comes in for me. With the introduction of this accessory, Apple has suddenly given Evernote, Paper, and their own Notes app far greater appeal. There are many instances where text notes don’t fully capture an idea, where a quick diagram would do far more to preserve a memory or train of thought. However, creating these diagrams with any degree of accuracy has always taken extra effort on the iPad. Keeping the palm off of the screen has always been of paramount importance, lest you accidentally activate a multitasking gesture, or leave weird marks on the page from where your palm was resting. All of the third-party stylii with palm rejection only worked about 50% of the time because they were at odds with multitasking gestures built right into iOS. Prior to the Pencil, writing and drawing on iPads always took a considerable degree of contortion to succeed in.

Apple’s Pencil is noteworthy because it breaks all of the rules that other stylii had to abide by…and it just works. It has the power to turn metal and glass into something similar enough to paper. I don’t think it’s overdramatic to say that it sets the form factor free. We’ve been able to use iPads as little writing laptops for a few years now, but the Pencil is what allows you to use an iPad like a blank sheet. You can rest your hand anywhere on the screen when you want to write, and drawing feels very natural, especially when you can physically rotate or tilt the entire canvas. This is something that no other iOS or OS X device can do as well, and it’s a a very powerful selling point for the iPad platform.

In preparation for this article, I’ve spent a lot of time on the iPad Pro in a particular set of apps that have fine-tuned their experience with the Pencil.

Continue reading

Share This:

Multitasking on the iPad Pro

IMG_0249

One of my primary reasons in testing the iPad Pro was to see how much of a difference it would make to multitasking. I was playing around with a few apps in Split View on my iPad Air 2, but it was more like a mode that I would activate intermittently — not my default way to work. Split View came in really handy as I finished articles up on the Air 2. I’d split iA Writer and Safari and copy links across the two halves of the screen, without ever having to leave the app. This was a lot less work than tabbing back and forth between the apps in iOS 8.

Portrait of Two iPads

The iPad Pro’s gargantuan screen is large enough to display two full iPad apps in landscape mode. I say “full” because running two apps in Split View on the Air 2 will result in two iPhone-class apps running adjacent to one another. For some apps this just means the sidebar will disappear, but it can be a more drastic difference in other apps. Safari, for example, stops displaying tabs along the top of the screen and adopts the tab button (displayed along the bottom bar) of the iPhone version of the app. These UI changes can be a little jarring, even though the content of the app stays the same.

It has to be said that multitasking on the Pro is just silky smooth if you’re just using touch. The Air 2 isn’t slow, but the Pro is like butter. There are some really great combos I’ve played around with over the past week:

  • Safari + Evernote for note-taking
  • Safari + Procreate for drawing
  • iA Writer + OmniFocus 2 for attacking work
  • Tweetbot + Messages for idle chatting while I watch TV

This doesn’t look like much when I condense these app combinations into bullet points, but it’s the first use case that has proven really interesting to me. Having a full-width version of Evernote beside my browser has been indispensable for doing research. I’m thinking about a trip to Japan next year and I made copious use of Split View to copy itineraries from Safari into Evernote for later comparison. Things got even better once I added the Pencil to the equation because I no longer had to disrupt the flow of researching and writing.

It has also been very useful to write a draft outline in bullet points and have that displayed beside iA Writer on the Pro. I usually do a 75/25 split in these cases, as I like having a lot of room for text. But it’s a lot better than keeping my outline below the text, which is how I used to work on the Air 2.

Pro Optimization

The only downside to getting used to Split View is that you really notice when it doesn’t work. We’re still waiting on Google apps like Hangouts, YouTube, and the entire Google Docs suite to support iOS 9 multitasking. These apps are starting to be a thorn in my side because they will always launch in full-screen and they aren’t optimized for the iPad Pro’s larger screen (so the UI is just a blown-up iPad Air 2 UI). This will eventually be solved over the coming months as apps catch up to iOS 9, but it does affect my workflow in the mean time.

The Split View Launcher Already Feels Outdated

For the purposes of discussing Split View in this article, the primary app is the one running on the left side of the screen (using the existing card-view app switcher), while the secondary app runs on the right (and uses the Split View switcher).

With that said, I stand by what I wrote a few months ago: the Split View launcher isn’t designed to scale. Swiping down on the secondary app to reveal a single column of app icons just sucks. It’s slow, there’s no way to activate search, and you end up having to scroll through a very long list of icons if you haven’t used a particular app in a while. I only mention that in this article to state that: yes, this still sucks, even on the iPad Pro. Perhaps especially on the iPad Pro because you’ll want to do more multitasking on this device.

Preserving App States in Split View

It’s taking me a while to learn how iOS treats the secondary app in Split View. Let’s take an instance where Safari is my primary app and OmniFocus 2 is running as the secondary. If I press the Home button and check Google Hangouts (which does not support Split View), Hangouts will display as a fullscreen iPad app. I could still load OmniFocus 2 over Hangouts at this point, but only as a SlideOver app (which basically runs it as a layer on top of my current primary app). Still with me?

split view mechanics

Here’s where it can get a little disorienting, and it’s the part that I’m still trying to get used to. Once I’m done in Hangouts I’ll press the Home button and want to get back to what I was doing before (Safari + OmniFocus 2). I could tap the Safari icon, but since OmniFocus 2 was loaded as well, I should also be able to tap on that.

What I expect when I tap on OmniFocus 2 is to return to my previous setup: Safari as primary and OmniFocus 2 as the secondary app. That was the layout I had specifically set up before I went to check Hangouts. As a user I expect that iOS will remember and respect state that I left my apps in.

However, what actually happens when I tap on OmniFocus 2 is that it loads up and displays full-screen. There are no secondary apps, just OmniFocus 2. In order to turn OmniFocus 2 back into a secondary app I have to go back to Safari, reactivate Split View, and tap the black divider bar to finalize the arrangement.

I think I understand Apple’s logic here — that any icon you tap on the home screen will become a full-screen app — but I don’t think it plays very well with how multitasking is presented on iOS 9. Apple is obviously trying to offer a sense of app persistence in multitasking with Split View and Picture-in-Picture. However, I think this current implementation misses the mark.

A better solution would be to allow two ways to return to my Split View setup. I should be able to tap either Safari or OmniFocus 2 to return to my custom arrangement: Safari as primary, OmniFocus 2 as secondary.

The Best Split View Use Case

I haven’t had terribly long with the iPad Pro, but I have had a few months’ experience with Split View with the iOS 9 beta on my iPad Air 2. So I know that Split View works smoothly without any lag on the Air 2 and Pro, but that it has some significant gaps while using a hardware keyboard. There are times when keyboard shortcuts need a few seconds to respond after you switch to an app, and other instances where keyboard shortcuts just don’t work (I’m looking at you, Spotlight!).

So my recommendation for taking full advantage of Split View on the Pro is to stick to a Smart Cover and Pencil. This keeps you from having to reach all the way up to the top of the iPad Pro’s 13-inch screen to hit “Done” or tap a search result. iOS in its current iteration heavily favours the finger over the keystroke. Luckily, the software keyboard experience on the iPad Pro is pretty good, so a sans-keyboard setup can work out.

In my final iPad Pro article I plan to talk all about the Apple Pencil and how I think it helps to define this device (far more than the Smart Keyboard does). Working with Split View and a Pencil for notetaking really is a different and markedly improved multitasking experience that no other device can replicate.

More on that soon! :)

Share This:

Writing On iPad Pro Without A Hardware Keyboard

  
I’ve written before about the strange fascination I have with the concept of using just an iPad and a stand (usually a Smart Cover) for writing. The major problem for me is that my wrists really haven’t liked it in the past. I’ve tried all manner of wrist positions and chair heights. I’ve kept the iPad farther in on the desk so my elbows had support, and I’ve tried leaving the iPad near the edge of the desk, so my wrists didn’t have to bend so far up to hit the keys. None of that has really worked on previous iPads and I do think it has to do with the fact that I can’t rest my fingers on the keys. Without having somewhere to give my wrists a break, my fingers and palms can quickly start to sweat. That usually forecasts some wrist pain soon after.
What’s interesting to me is that some other writers on Twitter have been trying to use the iPad without a hardware keyboard. Ben Brooks at stated he typed 1800 words on the iPad Pro, and Josh Ginter told me he got more used to the iPad Pro after the first weekend. They don’t have any history of wrist pain or RSI, but they still piqued my interest in the device’s software keyboard. The iPad Pro may lack Force Touch, but its software keys very closely mimic the size of a full hardware keyboard. That’s a first for an iPad.

I’ve now written over 3000 words on this keyboard and my feelings are are still up and down. I’m still slower in writing on an iPad, and I still try to type far too quickly for my own good. I’m a pretty fast and accurate typist on hardware keyboards, and my finger as often fly too quickly for the software keyboard to register keystrokes or gestures properly. A big part of learning to use this iPad pro has been to slow down a little bit.

However, to my surprise, this experiment has been working out. I started out by just leaving the iPad flat on the table. It actually works quite well and makes the keys very easy to press. However, it’s definitely a recipe for a sore neck if you’re going to type more than a few hundred words in a sitting. I tried using the Compass stand from TwelveSouth, but the iPad Pro is just too large for it. The best stands for the iPad Pro are actually those designed for laptops. I pulled out my old AviiQ foldable laptop stand and it’s working wonderfully for the Pro. The entire tablet screen is supported, so there isn’t any shaking of the device as I type.

The full keyboard layout is definitely an asset. It’s easier to hit the keys because the spacing is a little more generous. It’s also far more convenient to reach numbers and symbols without ever having to dig into the specialized symbols menu. Writing in Markdown on the iPad Pro is awesome, especially with the trackpad mode added in iOS 9. I’m starting to prefer this trackpad style selection to using the arrow keys on a MacBook.

I still think that Force Touch could be an asset to the iPads that Apple releases next year, and I really hope they find a way to let us rest our hands on the screen. However, for the first time in the history of the iPad, I can actually write on this device without pain long enough to pump out 600-word posts like this one — which is something I haven’t been able to say of any previous generation iPad. A MacBook would still be the more sensible portable computer for me, but I have to admit that there’s some charm to an iPad-only writing setup.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is defining feature of the iPad Pro, but it’s definitely useful for other writers who have wanted to use “just the iPad” but always required a hardware keyboard for the previous models. 

Share This: