Category Archives: iPad Pro

So About That iPad Pro…

   
Hmm, I really didn’t except to be writing this any time soon, but I listened to so many darn podcasts about the iPad Pro that I wanted to give it a shot. However, it wasn’t the extra RAM, more powerful processor, or the larger screen that piqued my interest. It was all of the talk about the full-sized software keyboard.

I found it really intriguing to hear that people are writing longer form pieces on the software keyboard alone. I’ve written a little about the ergonomics of the iPad’s software keyboard and I thought it would be impossible to make the keyboard ergonomically viable without Force Touch. Typing with a software keyboard and Smart Cover for ten minutes is enough to give me wrist pain, and I thought the only solution would be to allow me to rest my hands on the glass without triggering keystrokes (hence the requirement for Force Touch). But maybe a full-sized keyboard is enough.

That got me thinking about what else I might want to test if I got an iPad Pro. The Smart Keyboard is interesting from a portability standpoint, but it doesn’t seem like anything special for the iPad itself. I really liked the keys when I tried them in-store, but I was disappointed by the single viewing angle afforded by the accessory. I’m far too spoiled by my Logitech Ultrathin. The Logitech Create looks cool, but adds far too much bulk and weight for me to consider it. The iPad Pro already weighs 1.5 pounds and I don’t want a keyboard that will double its weight.

That just left the Pencil, which is the killer accessory of the Pro, in my opinion. I see a lot of articles discussing the Pencil as if it’s a tool for Other People…as if only a subset of people are really qualified to discuss its merits. I disagree with that take on it, and although I think professional artists and designers will benefit the most from this accessory, I wanted to see how a heavy note taker might take advantage of the Pencil as well. I love using Paper and Evernote was recently updated with support for drawing within notes, so I have plenty to test in two of my most-used apps. If the Pencil is as good as Apple promises, it really will allow us to do something that we never have been able to before: to treat a metal and glass like a piece of paper.

So I went out today and nabbed a 128 GB Wi-Fi model + Pencil to write about a few very specific use cases:

  • multitasking on the Pro vs the Air
  • whether the software keyboard is actually more usable than on previous iPads
  • the Pencil in extended use for non-artists
  • using the iPad Pro at a desk for extended periods of time

There are plenty of overall reviews for this device, so I’ll plan to hit up just a few specific subjects and decide whether or not to keep the Pro. I still think it’s inordinately expensive for what iOS file limitations and the available storage ($1500 CAD for the Pro and Pencil), but I was too curious to dismiss the device without ever really trying it out.

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The iPad Pro is a glaring reminder of the need for an iOS Home Screen refresh

iOS 9-Homescreen

iOS is arguably the most sophisticated, seasoned mobile operating system available today.  Love it or hate it, we are currently running the ninth version iOS–and there are no signs of slowing down any time soon.  Apple has approached updates to iOS with the “slow and steady” mindset.  There has never been a silver bullet update to end all updates, and I’m ok with that–mostly.  It’s hard to be patient, especially when there are whispers each year of purported upgrades, and new features planned for iOS. One thing we can count on, though–Apple won’t release/introduce a new feature unless it’s ready for primetime.  This can be frustrating at times, especially when we crave the next big thing.  However, in the end, the user experience is king regardless of any features added to the latest version of iOS.

Over the years, one of the biggest enigmas with iOS has been the stale, unchanging home screen layout.  The first screen we see when we power on our iPad’s and iPhone’s, is in need of major upgrade.  The current layout has become boring and outdated.  It’s true that many new iOS users may find comfort in knowing that a quick press of the home button will always bring them to the same screen _every_ time.  But does this mean that this screen has to remain a boring grid of icons–even after 9 iterations of the OS?  I say no, and it has never been more clear than after the introduction of the iPad Pro.

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We’re Still Defining The Tablet

  
The iPad Pro has a ways to go in terms of software growth, but based on this past week of iPad Pro reviews, Apple is setting the stage here. I’m reminded that software updates came to the iPad to add multi-touch gestures, split-screen multitasking, split screen keyboards (which disappeared on the Pro) over a number of years. These were not release features, but software iterations that came about as the world learned how to adapt to tablets. It’s reasonable to think that the iPad Pro is really just the first decisive step for the iPad as a main computer. But that’s not quite the focus of this post.

This year of giant tablets has made me question what a tablet is supposed to be. The most basic definition to me is that it’s a slate computer where the only built-in input device is a touchscreen. But having seen the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro this year, it occurs to me that we’re all still struggling to find a general definition. My dad uses his iPad mini as a second screen for movies. My mom uses her Air as a PDF reader and mobile newspaper. I use mine as a mobile writing machine, photo editor, and large web browser.

Horace Didieu’s video review really nailed what I was thinking when the iPad Pro was first announced: this isn’t really a tablet you’ll want to hold any more. It’s one that you bring from surface to surface, from a lap to a desk. I’m sure it can be cradled in the arm like a clipboard, but it’s not in the same class as an Air 2. It isn’t a one-handed reading device, or a 10-inch eBook for bedtime reading any more. Anything over one pound is just too heavy for me to use in those ways, and it wasn’t until the iPad Air that I really felt like the promise of the tablet was fulfilled.

But looking back at the use cases I cited above, and thinking on the way my friends use their tablets: people use tablets in a lot of different manners, so hinging the definition of a tablet upon weight and portability could be a mistake. My dad’s iPad doesn’t need to be particularly light if it’s mainly a repositionable screen. My mother’s iPad Air doesn’t need to be a certain weight to display PDFs on a stand — and it’ll do an even better job of it with a bigger screen.

Maybe the key to a tablet is its incredible flexibility. You buy a base iPad Pro and choose whether you want to buy an optional Pencil or Smart Keyboard. The thing works just fine on its own, and it’s actually optimized for use with taps of the finger. However, the existence of a first-party stylus and keyboard are statements from Apple that tablets can and should be used for more.

Apple seems to be saying that “tablet” can simply mean “lighter computer” in much the same way that “laptop” meant “portable desktop”. What I’m really curious to see is how Apple embraces other input methods for iOS over the coming months. I’d love to see them enable even more keyboard and Pencil integration to really bring the platform forward.

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Given Current iPad Pro Pricing, I’d Rather Buy a 512 GB MacBook

iPad pro

Apple has finally let the cat out of the bag: the iPad Pro is available for pre-order this Wednesday and is hitting stores later this week.

Here’s a recap of US pricing:

  • $799 for 32GB Wi-Fi
  • $949 for 128FB Wi-Fi
  • $1079 for 128GB Wi-Fi + LTE

[If you’re a Canuck like me, you can check out Canadian iPad Pro pricing was detailed on iPhoneinCanada.]

When the iPad Pro was first announced, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. The larger screen and stereo speakers are great, but the 1.5 lbs. device weight worried me. I like that the Air 2 is less than a pound in the hand, and I think that’s what one of the integral parts of its design: that you can hold it and use it in most any position, unlike a laptop.

In the weeks since the announcement, I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of talk about the iPad Pro. The best coverage came from Fraser Speirs, who had some hands-on time with the new tablet and discussed it on Out Of School episode 155. He says that much of the focus in iPad Pro apps has been on a giant content canvas. On-screen controls are around the same size as they are on the iPad Air 2 — there’s just a ton more space for the content. The 13-inch screen on the Pro provides enough space that you can run full iPad apps side-by-side, without any compromises on space or layout. It’s apparently a lot like having two iPads working side by side and communicating with each other.

I do think there is a good point about how immersive full-screen multitasking can be, but I find the pricing to be prohibitively expensive. If I were to get an iPad Pro, I’d want the 128 GB Wi-Fi version to store all of my photos on, and I’d also want to try a Smart Keyboard out. Factoring the 13% tax in Ontario, I’d pay nearly $1700 CAD for that combo. There’s definitely a lot of power, but that’s a paltry amount of storage for that price range.

At $1700 CAD, the iPad budget starts to compete with my “new MacBook” budget. I could pick up a top-of-the-line 512 GB 12-inch MacBook for $1800 (taxes included). That two-pound MacBook would be just as light and portable as an iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard, and it would also run applications in split-screen beautifully. I mainly tote an iPad around as a writing machine, mobile photo editor, and browser. A 12-inch MacBook could fulfill all of those same needs, and provide me with more power and automation on OS X. This certainly isn’t a big issue to Apple because they’re always happy to cannibalize their own sales.

However, as an iPad fan, I’m almost disappointed to not want one this year. I’m definitely curious about the iPad Pro’s feature set, but it’s is currently priced and specced like a full-fledged laptop when it isn’t quite there yet. With the kind of work I like to do and the files that I deal with, any device above the $1500 price point is going to a device that runs a desktop-level operating system.

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Our Thoughts On iPad Pro

iPad Pro

November will see the release of Apple’s latest and greatest tablet, the iPad Pro. First off, let’s tick off the more vanilla specs and numbers:

  • 12.9-inch display (vs the 9.7-inch display of the Air 2)
  • A9X — 1.8x faster CPU and 2x faster GPU performance
  • Four integrated speakers
  • $799 for 32 GB / $949 for 128 GB / $1079 128 GB w/ LTE
  • Still 10-hour battery life

The gigantic 2732×2048 display on the iPad Pro was really brought to life by the demos during Apple’s Keynote. Microsoft and Adobe had some great use-cases for getting “real” work done quickly and efficiently through the use of split-screen apps.

Copying tables and charts out of Excel and pasting them into Word looked easy, but it was Adobe’s presentation was even more efficient. They seem to have built “send to” features right into their apps, so you can take the currently selected image and send it straight to one of their other apps, without dealing with any extra pop-up menus. Short of dragging and dropping right across the app thresholds, Adobe seems to have the right idea about how a 12.9-inch display can be utilized.

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What we expect Apple to announce at their live-stream Media event

Apple-Media-Event_2015

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or something over the past couple weeks, you already know that Apple has a major Media Event scheduled for tomorrow.  They will be taking over the vast expanse of the  Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco to unveil what is expected to be “the motherland” of product announcements.  Multiple outlets have been reporting that Apple will announce and/or release the following products at the event

  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad mini 4
  • 4th Gen Apple TV
  • iOS 9
  • watch OS2
  • New Apple Watch bands
  • New Apple Watch finishes

Typically, with iPhone announcements like this we expect to be able to pre-order the new models starting as early as this Friday (9/11), with updates to iOS 9 and watch OS2 coming a couple days ahead of in-store iPhone sales a week from Friday (9/18).  New Apple watch bands and finishes will most likely be available immediately or perhaps along side the new iPhones.

While the Apple TV could potentially be available as early as this week, we do  not expect an iPad Pro to go on sale until October potentially anchoring the release of El Capitan and the iPad mini 4.

This should go down as one of the most packed Apple announcements in keynote history.  Make sure you have your calendar cleared at 1pm EST tomorrow afternoon.  In addition, be sure to stop back here in the days that follow to get up to speed on all iPad related goodness!

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Are you in the market to buy a 12.9 inch iPad Pro?

12.9inch-iPad-Pro

image: credit

Apple is rumored to be announcing a larger screen iPad sometime later this summer–possibly during WWDC, with a release date expected somewhere in the fall.  This has been a persistent rumor that has been around for a while but has gained some momentum since the beginning of the year.  Some potential rumored hardware features include an Apple supported stylus, support for Force Touch technology in the screen similar to what is now found in the new MacBook, and possibly even a USB-C connection in addition to, or instead of a Lightning connector.

Most of the tech media has been anticipating a larger iPad form factor for months.  Last weekend, Apple Insider reported that someone familiar with Apple’s future products has indicated that in addition to the afore mentioned features, a larger iPad “Pro” will also include the following

  • 12.5-13″ screen size
  • NFC Radio to be used as an Apple Pay terminal
  • New touchscreen to coincide with pressure sensitive, Bluetooth connected Apple Stylus
  • Upgraded A-Series processor

So this begs the question–If this limited amount of “rumored” info resembles what Apple releases this fall, are you interested in buying a larger screen iPad?  If so, what would be the appeal for you?  Are you an artist by trade, and are intrigued by the possibility of a pressure sensitive stylus and improved touchscreen that also responds to levels of applied pressure?  What are the advantages of a device that’s as large as a MBA, but isn’t as powerful or versatile? One would expect Apple to bring the same ForceTouch technology to it’s whole iPad line in addition to the iPhone–unless it would be reserved for the top of the line products such as the iPad Pro and the iPhone 6S Plus we expect to be announced later this summer.

I can’t help but think such a device would hover around the $1000 price-point, too.  Is there enough appeal/up-side to use iOS over OS X on a similar sized form-factor?  A larger device with a steeper price tag would probably warrant a case of some sort for protection as well–further increasing care and investment costs.  Who is the target consumer here?  Does the Pro label indicate a niche audience like the Mac Pro?  Seems like for the most part it would be too large to be effective as an education/demonstrative tool in schools, too.  Perhaps when/if Apple releases this device they will have a price tag and a use-case scenario that will make sense–but right now, I just don’t see it.  Am I in the minority here?  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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