John Gruber’s review of the new iPad mini

Nice long read, full of detail. One nugget in particular:

Here’s a really big pro in the iPad Mini’s column that I didn’t fully anticipate until diving in with it this week: it’s so much better for thumb-typing. Honestly, I hate typing on the on-screen keyboard on my iPad Pro. I hate it. I really do. If I have to do it I’ll put it in landscape and set it down on a table or counter and try to touch type with all my fingers. But holding the iPad Pro in portrait, I literally can’t type with my thumbs. When I try, everything comes out garbled. I can’t reach all the keys, and inexplicably, the iPad Pro keyboards no longer support splitting them into two smaller more reachable halves.

The iPad mini is a gem of a form factor. Perfect for so many people, especially those with small hands. But it’s also perfect for reading in bed. It’s big enough to see plenty of good-sized text but light enough to not be wearying on your arms.

As to the iPad Pro, the lack of a split for the onscreen keyboard is mystifying.

But that iPad mini? Delicious.

Rene Ritchie digs in to the new iPad mini (a bit of iPad Air too)

[VIDEO] Lots to absorb here, but my favorite bit comes at about 1:40 in, when Rene compares the screen size and aspect ratio of the iPhone XS and the iPad mini. The advantage of the iPad mini is significant, and Rene does a nice job showing why.

Video embedded in the main Loop post.

John Gruber’s take on the new iPads and why they only support the original Apple Pencil

John Gruber’s list of reasons the new iPads only support the original Apple Pencil:

  • The Pencil 2 requires an iPad with flat sides for the magnetic charging and pairing.

  • The flat sides of the newest iPad Pros go hand-in-hand, design-wise, with the edge-to-edge (or “edge-to-edge” if you prefer) round-corned displays, and Face ID instead of Touch ID. Those things all add to the price of iPad Pros.

  • In theory Apple could have given these new iPads flat sides just to support the new Pencil, sticking with the square-cornered display, larger chin and forehead, and Touch ID — but that’s not how Apple rolls. Such design elements are integrated with the whole.


If Apple had wanted the new Pencil 2 to work on all new iPads, they would’ve had to put a Lightning plug on the new Pencil in addition to supporting conductive charging and pairing. But that’s really not how Apple rolls — that would have ruined one of the things that makes the new Pencil so much nicer than the old Pencil. Better to have a messy product lineup where some new iPads only support the new Pencil and others only support the old Pencil than to have a messy new Pencil.

All fair points. To get a sense of how Apple is handling this, take a look at the Apple Pencil buy page. If you are buying an Apple Pencil, Apple steers you here to make sure you don’t buy the wrong product.

My only quibble is with the product name. The original Apple Pencil is clearly very different from Apple Pencil 2. Both belong to the same product line, but Apple has a traditional of calling out the differences. Consider Apple Watch Series 4, or MacBook Pro 2018. Not sure why they didn’t do that here, but c’est la vie.

Apple’s updated iPad Air and Mini support eSIMs


The iPad mini and iPad Air Apple quietly announced ahead of its big March event will come with eSIM support. Cupertino’s latest iPad Pros have eSIM support, as well, but these new entries are the first non-Pro models with the feature. While the Apple SIM works similarly — and present in older non-Pro iPads — it’s only compatible with the tech giant’s partner carriers. By giving these devices eSIM support, they’ll be able to work even on the networks of non-partner carriers.

A small thing, but really important for folks who travel.

Apple announces all new 10.5″ iPad Air and 7.9″ iPad mini, both with Apple Pencil support

Apple on the new iPad Air:

Apple today introduced the all-new iPad Air in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels.

Apple on the new iPad mini:

Apple today also introduced the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics.3 The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter3 and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting.

From what I can tell, both devices only support the first generation Apple Pencil. All the images show the first gen and the linked footnote specifically says, “The first-generation Apple Pencil sold separately.”

Both iPads are available to order right now and in stores next week.

One side thought: The iPad mini is the smallest iPad to support Apple Pencil. It does not have a magnet for charging and attaching the Apple Pencil. Seems achingly close to Apple Pencil support for the larger iPhone. Would you like Apple Pencil support on your iPhone?

Painting along with Bob Ross using your iPad and Apple Pencil

[VIDEO] Bob Ross taught generations of people how to paint. Gently.

In the video embedded in the main Loop post, iJustine watches Bob Ross step through his technique, laying paint on canvas, and replicates every step on her iPad Pro using Procreate.

I love this approach, especially the way the video is partitioned to show Bob Ross at work, Justine’s work in progress, all while keeping the big picture in the main frame.

The tutorial starts about 53 seconds in.

EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Working Off An iPad

[VIDEO] This is a terrific video (embedded in the main Loop post). With the title word in all caps, I have to say, that EVERYTHING seems reasonable.

This is a great video to share with anyone new to iPad. There’s a lot here, all very understandable. [H/T Matt Birchler]

Apple, the iPad Pro, and “subtle deviations in flatness”

Apple Support Note addressing bendy iPad Pros:

iPad Pro cellular models now feature Gigabit-class LTE, with support for more cellular bands than any other tablet. To provide optimal cellular performance, small vertical bands or “splits” in the sides of the iPad allow parts of the enclosure to function as cellular antennas.

On how those splits are made:

These bands are manufactured using a process called co-molding. In this high-temperature process, plastic is injected into precisely milled channels in the aluminum enclosure where it bonds to micro-pores in the aluminum surface. After the plastic cools, the entire enclosure is finished with a precision CNC machining operation, yielding a seamless integration of plastic and aluminum into a single, strong enclosure.

So far, so good. But:

The new straight edges and the presence of the antenna splits may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use. These small variances do not affect the strength of the enclosure or the function of the product and will not change over time through normal use.

Tucking this link away, on the off-chance I come across an iPad Pro that exceeds “subtle deviations in flatness”.

Apple confirms some iPad Pros ship slightly bent, but says it’s normal

Chris Welch, The Verge:

Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device’s manufacturing process and shouldn’t worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad’s performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect.

The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro’s metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple.


My 11-inch iPad Pro showed a bit of a curve after two weeks. Apple asked if I would send it their way so the engineering team could take a look. But the replacement 11-inch iPad Pro I received at Apple’s Downtown Brooklyn store exhibited a very slight bend in the aluminum as soon as I took off the wrapper.


Those who are annoyed by the bend shouldn’t have any trouble exchanging or returning their iPad Pro at the Apple Store or other retailers within the 14-day return window. But it’s not clear if swaps will be permitted outside that policy.

Tricky. Is this really normal? Look at the image in the linked article. Certainly seems like a manufacturing defect to me.

Past as prologue, can’t help but imagine a lawsuit brewing somewhere.

Amazon selling new Apple Pencil 1-compatible iPads starting at $229

This is the 2018 “education event” iPad. I own one, use it all the time, works with the original Apple Pencil (not the new, 2nd gen Apple Pencil).

Here’s a link to the Amazon iPad product page.

The 32GB, WiFi only model (at $229) will arrive after Christmas, but all other models were in stock for in-time-for-Christmas shipping.

Apple has destroyed the potential of the Smart Connector on the new iPad Pro

Andrew O’Hara, Apple Insider:

There are two primary issues with the port on the new iPad Pro — one that can be at least partially overlooked, and the other is going to be a show-stopper.


The biggest criticism of the case was the requirement of having a full back cover that added unnecessary bulk and weight on an otherwise slim device. I’d have preferred a two-piece design that allows for a removable keyboard with an optional back cover.

As it stands, you are stuck with both a keyboard and a back cover, or neither. If you wanted to remove the keyboard but keep the back, sorry, that’s too bad.


Second is the poor adoption we’ve seen from outside companies, which the shift will not help. Apple touted at launch that third-parties could make use of the port, and they even reiterated strong support with products in the pipeline just last year. Now that the port has completely moved, anything in the works based on the previous port location is dead-on-arrival.

Tough investment for a peripheral company to deal with a complete redesign of a hardware interface. Not just moving a port/connector, but completely changing the way it works.

And I’d add to this issue the problem of putting any sort of case over the Apple Pencil magnet/charger. You have to find a way to convey that functionality with your case, no easy task. And, given the likelihood that Apple is not done innovating here, it may be some time before the functionality of these ports stabilize.

Wholesale change is tough business for a peripheral maker.

Grammy winning producer teaches audio engineer how to mix using iPad

[VIDEO] Yesterday, we posted a video interview of top music producer Henny Tha Bizness and top audio engineer Ken Lewis talking about the value of using an iPad to produce music.

This video (embedded in the main Loop post) goes a bit deeper, actually showing the iPad screen as Henny teaches Ken the basics.

Lots to love here, but my favorite is watching their heads bob in unison as soon as the music kicks in.

How the iPad is revolutionizing music production

[VIDEO] Nice find from Cult of Mac’s Charlie Sorrel. The video in the main Loop post is an interview with Grammy award-winning music producer Henny Tha Bizness and is his take on the iPad’s place in professional music production.

The whole video is interesting but, at the very least, jump to 6:28 into the video when Henny asks producer Ken Lewis about his take on using an iPad rather than a Mac.

Insightful take on the switch from analog (knobs and sliders) to a mouse interface, and back to analog (knobs and sliders that you touch directly). It’s all about feel.

Use your iPad as a display for your new Mac mini

[VIDEO] Luna Display is a small hardware dongle you plug into any modern Mac, including the new Mac mini, that wirelessly turns your iPad into a touch display for your Mac.

You can see Luna Display in action in the video embedded in the main Loop post. I love this idea, and it seems a perfect solution for the Mac mini.

Beyond that, it feels like a missing link, that hybrid of macOS and iOS. My sense is that it supports Apple Pencil, but without pressure sensitivity. But that aside, this seems like a wonderful solution if you already have an iPad Pro and have a need for a Mac mini.

Face ID on the new iPad Pro is even better than it is on the iPhone

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

In my time with the new iPad Pro so far, I’ve found Face ID to be a bit more forgiving here than it is on the iPhone. It seems more likely to try to authenticate you multiple times on its, as well as better at different angles. For instance, I can have my iPad Pro laying flat on my desk, and Face ID is still able to recognize me. This is something that isn’t possible on the iPhone XS, at least reliably.


For everything it excels at, however, Face ID on the iPad Pro is not perfect, and the different use cases and overall size of the iPad present a couple of unique issues.

For instance, at my desk I like to use my iPad Pro with this Viozon stand. Face ID, however, is somewhat unreliable in this use case as it common displays a warning saying “Face is too far away.” I think I’ve been able to find the sweet spot in terms of how far is too far, but distance is definitely something I’d like to see Apple focus on with future iterations of Face ID.

Most people hold their iPhone in a reasonably predictable fashion, at a predictable angle, and a predictable distance from their eyes. The iPad itself, not so much.

As Chance points out in that last paragraph, people frequently place their iPad on a stand, sometimes flat on a desk, sometimes as a driver for an external display. True, the iPhone often lives in those spaces but, I’d argue, is far more likely to be held in typical phone fashion. Face ID on iPad just has more edge cases.

Ultimately, the best thing about Face ID on the iPad Pro, much like on the iPhone, is how passive it is. Unlocking is made even better by the double-click keyboard option, while things like accessing passwords, logging into apps, and more all work with no interaction at all.

I love that you can unlock your iPad by double-tapping any key on the keyboard. So smart, so easy.

More on third-party USB-C to Lightning cables

John Gruber unpacks a lot of detail on USB-C to Lightning cables, the MFi program, and his take on the likelihood of USB-C making the move to iPhone.

This is a terrific, put your feet up, grab a hot beverage, chock-full-of details read.

The new iPad Pro, magnets, and their impact on the MacBook Pro

This morning, I encountered this post on Reddit, titled PSA: Do not sit your new iPad Pro on top of your MacBook.

From the post:

I unhooked my 2018 15” MacBook Pro from my Thunderbolt Display earlier and sat my new 12.9” iPad Pro on top of it so I could carry them into another room and I heard the fan inside the MacBook making a scraping noise.

The magnets inside the iPad were pulling on it causing the blades to hit the fan housing. I moved the iPad away and it stopped making the noise immediately.

Take this with a grain of salt, but seems to me it could be possible.

As to magnets on the iPad Pro, take a look at this video:


I love how clearly this shows off the magnet placements. And there are a lot of them. Enough to impact a MacBook Pro fan?

Side note, from Federico Viticci’s continuing iPad Diaries:

Thanks to its 102 built-in magnets, the Smart Keyboard Folio easily aligns with the flush back of the iPad Pro with little guidance required on your end. With the Smart Keyboard Folio completely open on a desk, I haven’t had any trouble placing the iPad on top of it and folding it in typing mode. In fact, I’ve noticed that Apple intelligently placed magnets both inside the iPad and the folio case so that if you try to place the device upside down on top of the case, it won’t attach.


If I had to point out a minor issue with the magnetic connection between the folio and the iPad Pro, I’d say that detaching the keyboard from the iPad now requires paying more attention and a stronger pull. To detach the iPad from the folio case, you have to hold the keyboard down with one hand then pull the iPad somewhat strongly out of one of the two grooves above the numeric keyboard row. Then you have to detach it from the folio case as well.

That’s a lot of magnetic power. I’m interested in finding out more about the iPad Pro magnets impacting the MacBook Pro. This a real thing? Seems to me, the only way this happens is if you place your MacBook on top of your iPad Pro and use it, or place your iPad Pro on the keyboard of an open and running MacBook.

If this does turn out to be a real issue, solution is, don’t do that.

Jason Snell on the new iPad Pro

Jason Snell pulled together a nice review of the new iPad Pro. At the very least, check out the images showing the 11″ model sitting on top of the 12.9″ model, as well as the image showing old and new iPad Pros, all stacked together. This will give you a sense of the size differences between the various models.

A few highlights from Jason’s review:

The large and small iPad Pro models are closer in size than they’ve ever been. There’s still a substantial difference between them, though—when I pick up the 11-inch model after using for the 12.9-inch model for a while, it just seems tiny. While I suspect the 11-inch model will still be the go-to variant, with this round of updates it feels like the 12.9-inch iPad is shifting closer to the mainstream. It’s now a lot less awkward to hold, and it’s got a bunch of benefits, including the larger screen, the ability to run full-sized apps in Split View, a full-sized keyboard, and a better typing angle on the Smart Keyboard Folio.


But before I talk keyboards, I need to talk about magnets. The iPad Pro has more than a hundred, many of them in an array on the back of its case. Apple has moved away from its old approach of anchoring covers and cases via magnets on the side of the device.

Which leads to:

While it’s easy to detach the accessories, I have rarely done so accidentally.

This magnet redesign seems really well done.

Apple has built a remarkably bright screen that also manages to fight off glare with a special coating, and on top of that coating is an oleophobic coating to make it easier to wipe off fingerprints, and of course these coatings have to be durable enough not only to survive your fingers but also being scribbled on with an Apple Pencil. It’s a remarkable achievement, but the fact remains that the thing is a fingerprint magnet.

Not sure there’s anything to be done here, short of keeping a microfiber cloth handy for occasionally cleaning the screen. I clean my iPad and Mac screens pretty regularly, just to keep the dots of dust and dirt from building up. Good to know about the fingerprint issue, but not a big deal, at least to me.

Despite this being the first Face ID device to support multiple orientations, I’ve found it to be remarkably reliable. Every now and then, it lets me know that I’ve got a hand over the camera—with a helpful arrow pointing right at the offending digits—and the moment I react, it quickly authenticates me.

Face ID on the iPad is delightful. When I’m working with a keyboard, I don’t have to reach up and press my finger on a home button to unlock the device, or apps like 1Password—I just look up and the device unlocks automatically. And even when I’m just reading in bed, it’s so much easier to log in to a website by tapping password autofill and have Face ID rapidly authenticate me and enter in that data.

Just as it should be. And I love reading a review and encountering the word delightful. Delight is important, and part of Apple’s secret sauce.

Great read.

Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) review

[VIDEO] Speaking of the new Apple Pencil, here’s Rene Ritchie (video embedded in main Loop post) digging in deep, with just a hint of Serenity Caldwell.

This is just great. An Apple Pencil review done using the Apple Pencil. Wonderful.

Apple Pencil teardown

OK, technically, this is an iPad Pro 11″ teardown. But I am much more interested in the Apple Pencil innards. And how someone can get inside the Apple Pencil.

Looks like a job for the ultrasonic cutter. Whee!

The new Apple Pencil

Ever since I saw that first Apple Pencil 2 reveal, I’ve been struck by the genius of having the Apple Pencil stick to the side of the new iPad Pro, giving it a secure place to live and keeping it from rolling away. But most importantly, it makes charging so much easier.

I’m fascinated by this design choice and have been reading every review I can find. A couple of review points jumped out at me.

First, there’s this review from 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall. Zac loves the fact that the new Apple Pencil sticks to the iPad case and charges inductively, but:

One early concern, however, is that the magnetic charging and attachment side is on the right of the iPad Pro when holding it with Face ID at the top center. If I were right-handed, this would be ideal as Apple Pencil would always be there to grab and start writing with as needed.

As a left-handed person, I find that I hold the iPad in my right hand and navigate with my left hand. It’s slightly less natural to reach across the iPad for the Pencil when annotating something quickly. Technically you can use the iPad Pro in any orientation including upside down. I tried this method and much preferred the Apple Pencil on the left side, but then the volume and power buttons are moved and FaceTime calls have a nostril vantage point. I think I’ll just learn to reach across the iPad.

Not a big deal, but as a left-handed person, I do feel his pain.

Another early observation is that the new magnetic storage method is no issue when the iPad Pro is in landscape orientation and the Apple Pencil is on top, but it’s a little awkward to grab or hold the iPad Pro from the right side in portrait orientation with the Apple Pencil attached. I haven’t knocked it off, but it’s just in the way. Maybe I’ll adjust to holding the iPad Pro in my left hand.

Again, not a big deal, but it would be a win if a future version allowed charging from either side. A subtle point, but worth noting.

Another interesting bit is from Matthew Panzarino’s excellent iPad Pro review:

Many of the internal components are very similar to the first-generation Pencil, but one of the new ones is a capacitive band that covers the bottom third of the pencil from the tip upwards. This band is what enables the double tap and it is nicely sensitive. It feels organic and smooth to invoke it, and you can adjust the cadence of tap in the Pencil’s control panel.

Basically, the bottom third of the new Apple Pencil is touch-sensitive, all the way around. So no need to fid the flat side of the Apple Pencil to double-tap. And, seems to me, there’s an opportunity for all sorts of gestures in the future. If Apple chose to, they could open up that capacitive band to developers, allow them to define their own gestures. The Apple Pencil could become a bit of its own computing device, a remote control of sorts.

[VIDEO] The new iPad Pro: An artist’s review

[VIDEO] If you are considering laying out the bucks for one of the new iPad Pros, take the time to watch Ian Bernard’s video, embedded in the main Loop post. It is a thoughtful, rich piece, told from an artist’s perspective. [H/T Tim

The new iPad Pro and Laptop Magazine’s video transcode test. Wow.

Lots and lots of numbers in this review, packed with easy to read comparison charts. This iPad Pro comes out on top all the way through.

There’s a battery life comparison (based on continuous web surfing), with the iPad Pro lasting more than 13 hours, compared with the Surface Pro 6 at a bit over 9 hours. Same with GeekBench 4 numbers, with the iPad Pro multi-core at 17995 and the Surface Pro 6 at 13,025.

But scroll down to that video transcoding chart. Whoa. The Surface Pro 6 took 31 minutes to transcode a 12-minute 4K video clip. The MacBook Pro fared a bit better, just under 26 minutes. But the new iPad Pro? 7 minutes, 47 seconds.

That is one blazingly fast machine.

The elephant in the room at last week’s Apple event was Intel

Though we did include this review in yesterday’s list of the new MacBook Air reviews, I wanted to link to John Gruber’s review separately, for his take on Intel.

The elephant in the room at last week’s Apple event was Intel.

Apple introduced two products based on Intel chips — the new MacBook Air and new Mac Mini — but barely mentioned the company’s name. The word “Intel” appeared on a single slide during VP of hardware engineering Laura Legros’s presentation of the new MacBook Air. She also spoke the word once, saying the new Airs have “the latest Intel integrated graphics”. In the presentation of the new Mac Mini, “Intel” never appeared in a slide and wasn’t mentioned.


Apple is not going to throw Intel under the bus — they’re taking an “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” approach, as they should.

Push is slowly coming to shove here. As John points out, the new iPad Pro simply crushes the Intel-powered MacBook Air in GeekBench score, especially that MultiCore score (18,051 to 7,847).

As products, the Mac and the iPad are still on different tracks, not plug replaceable. But it does seem highly likely (a “when”, not an “if”) that Apple will eventually ship a Mac powered by their own bionic chip.

New iPad Pro Geekbench scores, compared with MacBook Pro 2018

Here’s the link to the iPad Pro Geekbench page. Note that this testing was done with the high end, 1TB model.

  • iPad Pro single core score: 5020
  • iPad Pro multi-core score: 18217

Here’s the link to the MacBook Pro 2018 Geekbench page.

  • MacBook Pro single core score: 5344
  • MacBook Pro multi-core score: 22552

Granted, these comparisons are not apples-to-apples, but still, these iPad Pro results seem impressive. They are both top of their respective line machines and, obviously, the iPad Pro is much less expensive.

If my math is right, the MacBook Pro single-core score is about 6.5% faster than the iPad Pro. That’s not much.

Rene Ritchie hands-on with the new iPad Pro

[VIDEO] Terrific, densely detailed, hands-literally-on look at the new iPad Pro from Rene Ritchie, part of his excellent Vector series. Lots to absorb here, 5 minutes well spent. Video embedded in the main Loop post.

Massive iPad deployment at Ohio State paying long-term dividends

Andrew O’Hara, Apple Insider:

When The Ohio State University partnered with Apple to provide 65 thousand iPads over the next five years to its entire campus, it meant more than just giving each student a cool piece of tech. The deal marked a profound shift in university’s investment in technology, one that would have far-reaching implications.


Starting with lower-level general education classes, OSU is looking to launch their own digital bookstore for much cheaper textbooks. In the chemistry class OSU trialed the digital initiative, students paid $20 for the digital copy of the course materials, rather than $250 for the physical copy.

This cost savings alone makes the iPad rollout a huge win. But the school has seen improvement in grades and a higher overall student engagement. This experiment was a huge success, and a big win for Apple in education.

Hands-on video with Adobe’s upcoming Photoshop for iPad

[VIDEO] Great, detailed, hands-on look at the coming version of Photoshop for iPad. This is the real deal, a version of Photoshop that uses the cloud to share files between your Mac and your iPad.

Watch the video, embedded in the main Loop post, follow the headline link for the Verge review.