I have been an iPad user for many years now. And as the years progressed and my travels became more frequent and shoulder pain intense, the iPad morphed from what was primarily a consumption device to an out-of-office computer. And it has also been my preferred writing pad, with or without a keyboard. But there have also been days when I have struggled to do certain things on the iPad — like working on a large spreadsheet — because this was something touch was never equipped to do. This could change drastically with the 2020 version of the iPad Pro.
What is new in the iPad Pro?
At first look, there is not much of a change in the iPad Pro. But that is when you will notice the iPhone 11 Pro like square on the rear corner. Yes, this is the first iPad with multiple cameras — a 12MP wide and a 10MP ultra-wide camera — making this a pro level video and photography device as well. Then there is the Lidar scanner, which means you can bring in AR apps that improve work, and maybe add a bit of fun too.
But the most exciting bit for me is the Magic Keyboard. While the keyboard has been an accessory you could always buy with the iPad Pros, this one is different because of the more solid feel and the trackpad. Trackpad? Yeah, you read that right. But then the addition of a trackpad means there has to be a cursor, right? Yes, and that is where the iPad Pro has gone into a whole new sphere with the latest version of the iPad OS.
What would make you buy the iPad Pro?
Let me get the iPad Pro itself out of the way before I get into the new bits. The iPad Pro is powered by the A12Z Bionic processor, which makes this as powerful as most laptops out there. Compared to the four cores on the A12X that powered the 2018 version of the iPad Pro, this one has eight cores. So not only is it more powerful, it is also more capable. Apple is touting this iPad Pro as the best AR device out there, and the processor along with Lidar scanner is expected to trigger a flurry of apps that will make it easier to use AR for a lot of stuff beyond gaming.
In the two weeks I used the iPad Pro, I used this for all sorts of stuff, often in place of my MacBook and at no point did the iPad Pro fall short of expectations. In fact, I started learning 3D modelling using the Sharp3D app and realised that using touch to do something of this sort is much more natural. With the Apple Pencil you have a tool that can do much beyond note taking and doodling.
The new Magic Keyboard is a complete rethinking of what a tablet keyboard should be. Initially, I was not sure, especially when I had to apply a bit of pressure to prop up the stand. it was then that I realised how this was a much better way of using a stand for the tablet. This design sort of presents the tablet to you instead of you having to reach out of the screen. So there is an angle that makes the screen perfect for consuming video, another where it just right for you to write using the keyboard. Also, I felt the iPad Pro has the best angles when you are on a Zoom call.
The trackpad is not large, but is a size that lets you take advantage of the screen perfectly. At all times, there is a dot on the screen, which is your cursor, the way Apple has rethought something we take for granted. The dot does seem more natural for the touch world, and Apple has made it will a little bit of transparency so you know exactly where you are moving it. And as you get it over an icon, the same is selected, almost as if the cursor has a magnet in it. It is all so seamless and smooth, that you don’t realise that Apple has successfully erased decades of muscle memory in the process. Now, I’m looking for a dot on my Windows devices.
The keys remind me of my MacBook Air and is very familiar to use. Actually when I first used an iPad keyboard from Apple, the travel was lesser than what I was used to and this did take some adjusting to. On the new keyboard, that is not an issue as it has the same amount of travel as in Macs.
For me, all this means I can use the iPad like a full fledged computer now. Two things I could not do before — work on large spread sheets easily and file stories WordPress without struggling with smaller scrolls in the bank — are now as easy as it is on my MacBook.
Now, for the camera. Let me confess that I’m not one to use a tablet camera at a wedding. And I don’t think that is the purpose of a camera on a tablet. But with the extra camera being added, most users will be tempted to give it a shot, literally. However, I think the second camera just adds a lot of value for professional users who will now be able to record site inspections and projects much better.
The Lidar scanner makes the iPad Pro a great AR device. The precision on this device seems to be much more than on other devices, so much so that you can play Angry Birds with the coffee table as your target.
I also use the Canvas app to create a Lidar scan of my living room, which can be referenced and measured when I am not even in town. That’s really useful. All of these are things no laptop can do.
I don’t think I should speak about the display because it just as stunning as always. The battery life is roughly the same as because, despite the keyboard and trackpad, the brighter and more crisp display, as well as the eight core processor. That is an achievement too.
What should you keep in mind while buying the iPad Pro?
But not everything is as you thought it would be.
On the trackpad, two-finger movement and three-finger swipes work differently. If you want to flick through the home screens, you need to use two fingers and not three — that just wouldn’t work. This takes a bit of getting used to.
The iPad Pro with the magic keyboard is a bit heavier than before and you feel will the few hundred extra grams easily.
This is a backlit keyboard, so you will need to be careful about spills and dust, especially since it costs almost as much as an entry level iPad.
The mechanism of the stand offers a bit of resistance, presumably to keep in place whatever angle you choose. So that is something you will have to adjust too.
Who should buy the iPad Pro and why?
Let’s be certain about one thing: the latest version of the iPad Pro — along with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard — are clearly gunning for laptops and maybe even MacBook Airs. They are as good, if not better. If you want mobility and do not want to forgo of processing power, then Apple seems to be telling you to look beyond the form factor of the laptop that we are all so used. Also, for a new generation more comfortable than touch there might be no reason to sell a traditional laptop form factor.
So the iPad Pro is for everyone on the move but needs unfettered access to computing power and convenience. The raw processing power, especially with video and photo editing tools along with the power to sketch also makes this a natural choice for creative professionals. If you are looking for a tablet to watch movies and write emails on, then there are cheaper iPads out there. This iPad Pro is clearly replacing a high-end laptop and that should be what you are comparing this with.
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