A little less than two weeks ago, Apple held their annual September event. This is the time of year where they usually announce a new iPhone and then updates to various other products like MacBooks, iPads, and more. Going in to the event, there was plenty of speculation as to what was to be talked about, and we were not disappointed.
Apple unveiled the new iPad Pro as part of the line up of releases to come this fall. Slated for a November launch, the iPad Pro sports a display measuring 12.9 inches, which is the largest iPad display Apple has ever created. Slightly larger than the 12-inch MacBook (which launched in April) and barely smaller than the 13-inch MacBook Pro/Air, this new iPad seems as though it would be too much, but it weighs in at only 1.57 pounds which is about the same weight as the original iPad. Considering how large the Pro is, the weight is an incredible feat of engineering and design.
When you first see the iPad Pro in-person you’ll immediately notice it’s size. It appears that it might be fairly heavy when used in portrait mode, but that is not the case. It is possible to hold the device in one hand despite it’s larger size. Introduced on this new device are speakers on all four corners that are optimized based on the way you hold the device. Another great feature of the new iPad is that it boasts the highest resolution ever for an iOS device (2732x2048 - more pixels than a MacBook Pro with Retina Display). The screen is absolutely beautiful when viewing high-resolution photos and videos.
Alongside the iPad Pro, two new accessories were introduced: a smart keyboard, and the Apple Pencil. Covered with cloth, the keyboard has a nice, solid feel while offering the flexibility of a smart cover that so many iPad users have come to love. The buttons on the keyboard feel almost flat and the minimal keystroke bears a striking resemblance to that of the keyboard on the new MacBooks introduced earlier this year. The keyboard is even splash resistant and simple to clean should you have a spill. The only drawback of Apple’s keyboard is that it is designed to only hold the iPad Pro at one angle. While that won’t be a problem for many users, there are sure to be complains from some users. At this point, there hasn’t been enough hands-on time for people to determine if the iPad Pro/smart keyboard combo would sit well in your lap. Sure, it works great on a table or desk, but what about when all you’ve got is a pair of legs? Will it be as reliable then? Unfortunately, that is still to be determined!
The Apple Pencil is perhaps one of the most interesting introductions from the keynote. The pencil is a beautiful piece of design and the iPad Pro was designed to enable the best possible interaction between the two devices. When using the pencil there is enough resistance on the display that it feels similar to writing on paper, which, though incredible, seems a little bizarre. The pencil is incredibly accurate and responds to both force (making lines thicker and darker) and tilt (allowing shading). The cap of the pencil comes off to reveal a lightning charger which can be plugged directly into the iPad and with only 15 seconds of charging you can expect 30 minutes of use. The pencil should charge pretty quickly especially if you can leave the iPad for a while with the pencil plugged in.
The pencil is going to be an incredible tool for creatives who choose to use the iPad Pro, but it will also be a great resource for those using Office for iPad Pro. With the pencil, users will have the ability to highlight and mark up text as well as choosing from a range of writing implements. Another great use to think about is the ability to copy and paste in Office for iPad using the new split screen view introduced with iOS 9.
So the question already being asked is, who is going to buy this iPad?
If the iMac and iPhone 6/6+ have taught us anything, it’s that people in general seem to have a deep love affair with large screens that have incredible resolutions. The iPad Pro caters to that demographic and progresses a step further, by anticipating the needs associated with a larger device (smart keyboard + pencil). It’s got an A9X chip which is, of course, much faster than the A8X chip in the iPad Air 2, and more importantly the Pro has 4GB of ram. The Air 2 has only 2GB of ram and it’s pretty snappy. With 4GB of ram, you can expect the iPad Pro to work incredibly well and be able to handle any of the multitasking you throw at it.
This device could be incredible for education, but with a starting price of $799 we’re not so sure that schools will jump for that when they can have other, high-performing iPad models for a fraction of the price.
The bigger question here, is can the iPad Pro replace a MacBook? It can easily outperform other iPads, but, if a company is going to spend $799+ on a device, they’ll probably want it to be able to replace a laptop. It might be great for the designer who has an iMac at the office, but wants something to doodle on at home. However, looking at this realistically it would be even better suited for someone who travels quite a bit and prefers mobility over almost all other factors. But this begs the question, can iOS 9 serve as a primary operating system? Is it robust enough for someone who is on the road all the time to use a their primary device? To be totally honest, we don’t know and until the iPad Pro officially launches in November, we won’t be able to give you a solid answer. With the advancements in iOS 9 and the robustness of the iPad Pro's hardware it just might be possible. Like any new device, switching to the iPad Pro will require a learning curve, but it just might be what you were looking for if you’re tired of lugging around a MacBook.
Stay tuned in November for the launch of the iPad Pro as we’ll be sharing plenty of resources and reviews from reputable sources using the device daily and possibly even some who have made it they primary device.
If you’ve got any questions, we’re happy to answer them!