The new iPad Pro’s are here, and they are beautiful. The industrial design team at Apple is doing some amazing work these days - I’m just absolutely impressed at the quality of products they are putting out - the iPhone X/XS, the Apple Watch Series 4, the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, and now the new iPad Pro’s. Apple has always excelled at this, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. The refresh of the iPad Pro’s is the first major design overhaul of the iPad lineup in 5 years, and it is incredible.
Geek Bench scores are out for the new iPad’s and the numbers are just off the charts. The new iPad Pro’s are nearly twice as fast as any other iOS device that Apple has ever made - including the iPhone XS Max that was just released about 45 days ago. On top of that, it’s even nearly as fast as Apple’s most current top-of-the-line 15” MacBook Pro - all in a fan-less device that’s about 5mm thin. Everything flies on this thing - including the initial setup. I restored from the backup of my previous 10.5” iPad Pro, and it was the fastest restore process I’ve ever seen. I am convinced that we are less than 24 months away from Apple launching a Mac OS based device that runs solely on their custom silicon - and when they do, I have no doubt that it will absolutely fly. Just think what they could do in a larger enclosure with a fan and 32GB or 64GB of RAM.
The Pencil is Waiting
The new magnetic resting and charging location for the Apple Pencil is brilliant. Not only will it keep it charged for whenever you need it, you also don’t have to worry about loosing the cap, or breaking off the lightning connector like you did with the first edition Apple Pencil. Having the Apple Pencil always with the device is absolutely key to using it more often. So many times in the last year I wanted to use the Apple Pencil for something, but it was across the room in my laptop bag, zipped up in the pencil pocket, and contained in it’s leather sleeve. Unless I absolutely needed the Pencil for something specific (like photo editing) I would be unlikely to go and get it. But now, the Pencil is always there, just waiting to be used. And in fact, since it’s always there and in sight, I find myself reaching for it far more often for a whole selection of new tasks.
Easy-Fold Smart Keyboard
When I picked up the iPad Pro last year along with the Smart Keyboard, it completely transformed the way that I used the iPad. In the past, I would avoid anything that involved long-form text on the iPad because the on-screen keyboard took up half of the screen real-estate. With the Smart Keyboard, using the iPad became such a different experience. The new “easy-fold” Smart Keyboard is a great evolution of an already great product. My favorite aspect of the Smart Keyboard is not having to pair or charge them - they just work. The new 2018 Smart Keyboard has a much stronger and sturdy magnetic attachment, and I like that it now covers the front and back of the iPad. My only wish is that they add backlighting to the keys in the next iteration.
This is what comes next
Using the new iPad Pro feels like the future. Being able to switch to something that feels a bit like a laptop with the Smart Keyboard attached, to a perfectly weighted mix of aluminum and glass that you can carry around with you, or read with on the couch feels futuristic. I’m not saying the iPad will replace the desktop computer or traditional laptops anytime soon, but I do think this type of computing is what truly comes next. I don’t think my daughter will be asking for a laptop when she’s in high school, but instead will be asking for a device more similar to the iPad. And yes, I do believe that VR googles are also in our future, but I think we’re a bit further out from them being mainstream. The next big push for home “computers” will be tablet-like, and the iPad is there at the forefront leading the way.
What I’d like to see next
- Backlit keys on the Smart Keyboard
- An ESC key on the Smart Keyboard :)
- Color options for the Apple Pencil [^Rene Ritchie also mentioned this in his Apple Pencil review]
- Haptic feedback for the Apple Pencil [^As heard on The Talk Show with John Gruber]
I honestly can’t think of much else that I’d like to see from a hardware perspective. What else is there? Even thinner bezels? Better cameras? Longer battery life? Those things would be nice of course, but more iterative in nature. My guess is that the hardware for iPad Pro’s won’t change much for another 5 years, and I think that might be just fine!