Review: iPad Pro

I’ve been using the iPad Pro for just over a week now and I’ll tell you, I’m more impressed than what I thought I would be. The first question I set out to solve was “who is the target market for iPad Pro?” While I thought that would be a difficult question to answer, it turned out to be quite simple. More on that later.

There is no doubt iPad Pro is made for a group of customers that haven’t be able to take full advantage of previous iPads before: Creatives. The combination of Apple Pencil and iPad Pro make this an incredibly advanced and powerful device.

I met with Adobe last week and got a look at a few of the new apps they built with iPad Pro in mind. The level of thought they put into these apps had me smiling while they were demoing them to me.

Let’s just take a look at Adobe Photoshop Fix as an example. The app makes common touchups easy, but there’s a lot going on under the hood. While on iPad Pro, the work you do seems almost too simple. However, when you export that image and open it in Photoshop on your Mac, you see all of the different layers.

IMG_0030

You don’t see the layers on iPad Pro, but the app is keeping track of all the masking, compositing, and other changes you make.

Using Adobe Comp CC is pretty much the same great experience. You can mockup a document, using gestures to create spaces for text, images and other document elements. When you’re done, you can export your work to Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, so you can continue working on your Mac.

Adobe Comp CC

What Adobe has done is definitely amazing, but you have to look at the foundation of what they built these apps on: iPad Pro.

Apple Pencil is very thin at the tip. While other pen devices mimic the touch of a finger, Apple Pencil’s tip is meant to be precise. Pencil transmits the force and pressure you use from the pencil to the screen of iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro screen is always watching what you’re doing. With something like drawing on the screen, latency is a killer. If you draw a line and the screen can’t keep up with what you’re doing, you won’t use it very long.

iPad Pro intelligently predicts where the pencil is going and how much pressure is being used. It then goes back and fills everything in to make it the precise line you wanted.

Keep in mind, this is all done so fast, you can’t even see it happening. You will not draw a line and then have iPad Pro changing things while it catches up and you watch. It is truly amazing.

Using iPad Pro

Using iPad Pro is a great experience for me. It’s not that it’s bigger, although that helps with my older eyes, it’s that it allows me to do more.

I do a lot of story research, email, Web browsing, story writing, as well as writing, composing, and recording guitar for songs. With the exception of the music, nothing I do strains the power of the iPad Pro.

When you turn iPad Pro in landscape mode, you have the equivalent of two iPad Air side-by-side. That’s useful screen real estate. I can have a Web browser open researching a story and notes in the other window where I copy links, images, and text. It’s just so easy.

In general, iPad is a device I use everyday. iPad Pro has increased that usage because it was more efficient for me than iPad Air or mini. I can just do more with the screen space I have, and I can see it better. I like that.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t use the cameras, and I can’t see that I would use them a whole lot under normal usage. I’m glad they’re there, but using a camera isn’t a priority with iPad Pro for me.

If I did want to edit video, iPad Pro would be a perfect device to do it with. iMovie on iPad Pro supports editing 4k video and you can preview the 1080p video in full resolution. In fact, you can edit three 4k streams simultaneously—that’s power.

I did use the new keyboard and I liked it more than any of the other external iPad keyboards I’ve used in the past. Microsoft did have a good idea with the keyboard integrated into the cover.

The tilt of the iPad Pro screen felt right when attached to the keyboard, making it easy to type on my lap or on a table. It’s also not as bulky as other external keyboards, which is important for me. iPad is a portable device, so bulking it up with an external keyboard just doesn’t sit well with me.

The keyboard also contains no traditional mechanism—it’s molded right into the keyboard keys.

There are some nice little extras included with the keyboard too. If you press and hold the Command key on the keyboard, it will bring up a list of shortcuts you can do on the iPad using the keyboard.

These tips are contextual, meaning that they will change depending on which app you are in and the screen you are currently displaying. I thought that was very cool, and helpful.

This brings me to the one thing that drives me crazy about iPad—the volume keys.

When you hold iPad in portrait, the bottom volume key turns the volume down, as you would expect. However, when you turn iPad to landscape, the bottom key is on the top of the device and on the right—that should be the volume up key and the one of the left should be the volume down.

ipadprobuttons

However, it doesn’t work. When you press the key to turn the volume down, it goes up and vice versa. It seems silly that this is a problem.

Not just a larger iPad

Some people said iPad Pro was simply a larger iPad. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

iPad Pro represents the start of something completely new for Apple and its developers. The power, versatility, and promise of iPad Pro has not been seen since the original iPad.

iPad Pro is going to open up segments of the market that never considered using an iPad before. In my opinion, this device isn’t going to cannibalize existing iPad sales, but rather add to them.

Apple did an impressive job making iPad Pro a device that everyone can use—everyone. Pros and novices will both get great use from iPad Pro, but developers are going to help make this a device that can get things done like no iPad has to date.



  • Keir Thomas

    Worldwide buying links and prices courtesy of your buddies at Mac Kung Fu: http://www.mackungfu.org/worldwide-links-to-buy-ipad-pro

  • However, when you turn iPad to landscape, the bottom key is on the top of the device and on the right—that should be the volume up key and the one of the left should be the volume down.

    if I’m reading you right, I disagree. when I place my iPads into landscape with the volume buttons on top, the “bottom” button is now on the right and remains the volume-down button, as I feel it should.

    why should it be different on the pro?

    • Billy Razzle

      I also do not follow what he’s saying here.

  • The Cappy

    “In my opinion, this device isn’t going to cannibalize existing iPad sales, but rather add to them.” This seems like a very peculiar line: an iPad not cannibalizing sales of iPads? Having said which… of course the iPad Pro will cannibalize (non-Pro) iPad sales. None of the people who buy an iPad Pro were planning to buy a non-Pro iPad this year? I would have. So my sale was cannibalized (assuming Apple would have made an iPad Air 3 this year if it hadn’t done a Pro). I bet I’m not the only guy about whom that’s true.

    • marv08

      Well, depends on the degree of madness, I guess. I left the Apple Store with an iPad Pro (LTE model) and a Mini 4 (smallest configuration) today. Both will replace my iPad Air (first gen.). One for work, one for reading and playing on the train.

      • The Cappy

        Yeah but there can’t be a lot of people buying two iPads. There’s going to be a lot more who just buy the bigger one. And since the iPad Pro will count as an iPad sale, I still think “cannibalizing sales of iPads” is a misplaced concept. I have to admit though, I find myself wondering if I’ll want a smaller iPad as well. I’m a little undecided whether that counts as a ding against the iPad Pro’s form factor.

      • Darthque

        Godamn!

  • I buy LPs so I get all these download codes which I need to download and import into iTunes/Music. I think I still need a Mac to do that. Otherwise I’d consider the iPad pro. 256 GB would help too.

  • David Malcolm Puranen

    I think the promise of the iPad Pro having not been seen since the original iPad shows that Apple came out with the iPad, and then didn’t know what to do for the longest time. (Still not sure they do.)

    By now I should be able to plug my iOS device into a USB C cable which connects to a monitor and use it like the Solu on Kickstarter. (I’m confident that Solu will not be a big deal going forward, but the idea of portable computer that adapts to multiple use cases is the way of the future.)

    Microsoft is already further along with the Surface Book, in terms of having one device to rule them all. Apple is being held back by wanting to sell me an iPhone, iPad and MacBook. With the pace of processors available now, my Mom’s iPhone should already be her Mac mini, and in a few years my iPhone should be able to replace my current MacBook Pro. (And connect to something like my current Thunderbolt monitor.

    Sadly at that point there will be less money on the table. So Apple won’t push forward on this front, and we’ll have to deal with Google and Microsoft’s clumsy attempts.

  • John

    File this under things I never thought I would say: I hope that Microsoft builds a keyboard for the iPad Pro.

  • Superalias

    No, Microsoft did not “have a good idea with the keyboard integrated into the cover.” Microsoft released keyboard covers for its Surface in 2012. Other manufacturers released keyboard covers for iPad from 2010 (you can easily find reviews online).

    Give credit where it’s due, to Kensington, Logitech, etc. Microsoft was (again) the late imitator.