iPad Pro 2018 Analysis
You’re reading this from a world that didn’t exist fifteen years ago. We began the millennium by placing ourselves within our digital life thanks to the Internet, which already reached virtually all the houses – but within them only to the same place: that computer on the table, monolithic, imposing, noisy.
All this time we get used to it. That powerful appearance almost resting like an altar – where we tune in with our digital worlds further reinforced the idea of a powerful, complex machine, an entry point. Almost a portal. We wanted to connect with something or someone and that’s what we were going to do. It was almost part of the daily ritual, but it was not an important part of it. It didn’t intertyade with our needs, it only solved them at a specific time. And not all of them, because we didn’t take him everywhere.
And all of a sudden, three devices in one. A mobile phone, an iPod with touch screen, an Internet browser. Apple called it «iPhone», the rest of the world discovered it as a revolution that positioned us on the ramp of takeoff of something bigger: computers were already starting to travel in our pockets. No more «altars» in the form of desk tables with our towering machines on top. And things started to change.
Apps, mobility, ubiquitous computing
The door that Steve Jobs opened on January 9, 2007 with the iPhone changed what we understood as a computer concept: maybe we grew up or heard too much about those mastodontic machines of the second half of the 20th century – when the technology seemed to have no were a great achievement for a computer to completely occupy the size of a room to calculate space rocket trajectories.
We had always seen them on top of our desks, grew up in houses where some of us had «the computer room», and little by little they accompanied us to the university and then to work turned into laptops. Throughout this trip some things happened that could never have happened if they had stayed at home: needs were born, technologies were developed (wireless connectivity, improvement in batteries, miniaturization of components…) and without miniaturization of components…) and without miniaturization of components…) and without miniaturization of components…) and without miniaturization of components…) and without miniaturization of components…) and without realize we were all changing a little bit along the way.
The iPhone radically topped all those concepts taken to the extreme, being precisely a mobile device taken to the extreme. A product with the ability to do many of the things we do with traditional computers, whose uses have been increased with the advent of apps and has been driven by the moving needs of users. It was only a matter of time before all these factors combined began to redefine the very concept of what we understand by computer.
-We grew up thinking that computers would always be at the tables, but now the technology is on the move-
Okay, this is not an analysis to use. I have 455 words in this article and we have not yet commented on any of the device itself, but this is precisely one of the most important features of the iPad Pro: the way it shakes certain concepts full of dust and shakes certain comforts that do not everybody likes it. For many, this product looks like it’s stealing attributes from its older siblings. At other times, the ability to completely replace (this is the error) to a «traditional computer» – or what they understand by computer , is resoundingly denied.
The repetitive maneuver of the competition with the constant discourse of having a desktop product tuned to be mobile, is precisely what gives value to the iPad: it is going much further than any of them in terms of efficiency, technology and adaptation – although it is true that it is going at a slower pace. I believe that no device today does everything – perhaps it shouldn’t either – and in my opinion the decision to recycle a desktop system to save the short term will only work in opportunistic advertising campaigns and will fail in the medium/long term.
-The competition speech that a computer can only have a desktop operating system is short-term and obsolete-
What is a computer? Apple started a recent campaign because at the point in the history of technology we’re on it’s convenient to ask. If we don’t, we’ll fall into the mistake of underestimating opportunities and losing others: to settle for what we have and not to want to get out of the comforts of what we knew about what’s coming. No, the iPad Pro can’t do absolutely everything, but in all facets where Apple’s product is strong, it’s the strongest. It is the one that forces Adobe to remake its Photoshop, the one that designs the most powerful ARM chips on the market as the one preparing the anteroom of a plan, who is changing the heart of the apps to the professional apps (at last!). You can call it post-PC, mobility, intersection… Without a doubt – this, ladies and gentlemen, is the iPad Pro and all that is coming with it.
More window than frame
The new design of the iPad Pro finally undoes the frames we were used to in previous generations, and features a design similar to that of the iPhone X/XS. Perhaps in the case of this iPad Pro is not as pronounced, keeping more edge but giving a sense of continuity around the perimeter. Thanks to this we removed the notch and here you can switch to the hidden true Depth sensor bar under the edge. In appearance it has a more homogeneous and comfortable look to work.
The True Depth sensor bar is now located up if we hold the iPad Pro vertically, but it also works if we support it horizontally. On this device, this bar has been modified by software so that facial detection also works in this mode – it is appreciated when we have the iPad Pro on top of the table. Sometimes, we unconsciously cover the bar with our hand, but the operating system itself will warn us of it so that we don’t think it’s a Face ID bug.
A significant change is the removal of the Smart Connector that is now located at the bottom back of the device. This change makes the previous generation’s accessories incompatible by position, and has certainly been put there to improve how the Smart Keyboard anchors itself: the magnetic connectors spread across the entire surface of the device makes the new keyboard to be it also covers front and back, as a book cover.
On the new keyboard, few novelties (touch and functioning identical to the previous generation), beyond this: during this month of testing I have really liked to check how the keyboard gains in stability when working with it above the knees, for example (basic If you travel a lot), also the two degrees of position to see the screen are comfortable and will be enough to use in almost any situation.
As points to improve: the keyboard should be backlit. A moving device isn’t always in the best light condition and Apple should offer it even as an «extra» model to the current most basic. Another thing that doesn’t convince me is that when we put the keyboard behind the iPad Pro to hold it as a book completely opened by the cover, the least touch the open keys that rest behind. It’s okay because they’re not active, although it’s not comfortable. It is the only catch that we will have to gain in the stability that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
There is also a version available of the Folio Cover, which is basically the Smart Keyboard without keyboard and designed so that it can be folded completely triangularined, similar to those of the previous generation. If you just want protection and a convenient way to use a stand for iPad Pro, this one of the best options and protects much better than the previous model by better pinning yourself magnetically and closing the device in «book» mode.
Liquid Retina arrives at iPad Pro
For a curved edge design and reduced frames, Apple uses the Liquid Retina technology it already uses on the iPhone XR: it’s a display that enhances conventional LED panels, and presents exceptional color-like look and fidelity. On paper, both screens (the one on mobile and this iPad) are the same, but the improvement in nits (the brightness unit of digital screens) that goes up to 600 gives a better impression.
In all my tests the fidelity of color and representation has been very good: the depth of the black colors was always unmarked or degraded even looking at it with complicated angles and reflections in airports, train stations or poorly lit cafes or too lightly. Reading books, comics, documents or digital magazines is sincerely a delight with this iPad Pro: the lightness of the product and the comfortable wingspan make you do not think at any time to take it out of the wallet to look at what you need or entertain yourself.
Without a doubt, the star element of this iPad Pro screen (as above) is that Liquid Retina also features Pro Motion, awarded with an award for one of the year’s advances in display technologies. This technology allows to adapt between 24 and 120Hz, thus improving the graphic movement of the operating system – much smoother – and the response time of the touch interface.
New Apple Pencil
I still remember the «ooooohhhh» that was heard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in the middle of the keynote, when we saw that the new Pencil was magnetically anchored to the iPad Pro and that it was also charged wirelessly. The previous generation’s load design was heavily criticized: neither introducing it into the Lightning port, nor using the adapter to charge it by cable were a good design idea.
Again the magnets take full advantage of the new iPad Pro, holding the pen very firmly on the side if we hold it vertically or on top if it’s on the table. I think all the guests at the presentation waved the iPad Pro crazy with the Pencil on top of it to check that, and he held on. The charging is also quite fast, in just a few seconds we can start using it for half an hour, and the full charge can be achieved in about an hour. Actually – and something similar happens on the AirPods – if you leave the Apple Pencil magnetically anchored to store it, you can practically forget that it requires charging.
Precisely, that is at the moment a negative point of the design: it can only be loaded with the new iPad Pro. There is no wireless charger or system that can do it, and we will have to wait if the Air Power finally comes out to see if it allows to charge it as well (it is possible that it will). It is nothing particularly serious as this Pencil only works with this iPad Pro, and it will surely be fixed in the coming months with some accessory released for that purpose.
With the design they are tremendously right: it looks more like a traditional pencil, it is not completely cylindrical to be able to support it without slipping down the table – and can be pinned flatly to the iPad Pro – but it is compatible with the interchangeable tips of the previous generation. The operation and characteristics of intensity, pressure and inclination is identical to the predecessor, only we now have a small accelerometer in the clamping area that when hit slightly twice, triggers a conceptual action in the app that we use.
For example, in the notes app, the new Pencil lets you switch between a drawing tool or a draft. In other applications we can even select what action we want for the secondary touch, and it works quite comfortably and accurately without accidental changes. Here you can see the experience gained on the AirPods, where this gesture is also used in each of the headphones to pass songs or activate Siri.
The evolution of Apple-designed processors is already unstoppable. They will arrive in the medium term on Macs at some point and the power they play while maintaining energy efficiency is invaluable going forward. Learning through this experience has a direct impact on how to deal with the next generation of processors, and has been especially evident in the A11 and A12 chips.
The improved iPad Pro version of the iPhone XS processor is the A12X chip, which is capable of calculating anything more and no less than 5 trillion operations per second. This computing capability is especially useful for Machine Learning and Machine Learning tasks that iOS 12 provides. In terms of graphics, it’s twice as powerful as the previous generation: in the keynote they even compared it to a desktop console, the Xbox One S, which talks a lot about the level reached.
And it’s no longer just about raw power, the key to these processors, as I said at the beginning, lies in energy efficiency. This means that they are able to self-manage to use only the power they need when needed, and that they do not need complicated cooling mechanisms such as fans or the like that would reduce battery life. Having something like that on a device as light and with as much autonomy as the iPad Pro is what really sets it apart as a product away from what we knew as «desktop computers», and thanks to all this, it also requires new software to squeeze it to the Maximum.
This iPad Pro and the need for Pro software
Perhaps the improvement impression of this iPad Pro is that Apple doesn’t come with custom-made Pro software to exploit the capabilities and benefits of new hardware. I consider that the company needs to take two important steps so that this device avoids any doubt that it is much more than a conventional tablet: the first, it is a dedicated iOS away from the iPhone, which takes advantage of the greater screen space and power, as well as some functionality that only here would work fantastic.
An example of the latter, which is multi-user, in the same way that Macs work. The iPhone is a very personal device but an iPad Pro can be shared by different co-workers or family and it would be very right for everyone to have their own accounts, apps and services.
Beyond the operating system, applications have to bet on software that is not a small brother of the mature desktop version. In a way it makes sense that you haven’t bet on it yet, the desktop versions of Photoshop or Final Cut Pro have been on the table for a long time and use a paradigm of use (mouse, big screens) that is not easy to change.
And yet, Adobe presented in the keynote an impressive new Photoshop CC designed for iPad Pro, with desktop features, and designed to make the most of the device and its accessories, such as the Apple Pencil. This wonder will not only be familiar to those using the conventional version, it also takes advantage of the power of the iPad Pro by combining even creative models with augmented reality. It’s a great example of taking software beyond what we knew, contextualizing it within the world that the iPad Pro is capable of delivering.
For the future we look forward to the arrival of more professional software. Photo retouching companies for example are already taking out Pro versions of their software and we hope that Apple of the next step: launch apps like Logic, Xcode or Final Cut Pro adapted for the iPad Pro, personally I don’t think it takes long to have news in this Sense.
All this does not mean that this device remains a conventional tablet, its power and versatility specify what this product really defines: it cannot be used for everything – such as to develop software because it does not have environments conventional development. However, if we are photographers, we edit video, artists, journalists, musicians or architects, this iPad Pro can perfectly solve almost 90% of the needs that we have: in a way that can never make a desktop computer tuned in a case of tablet, as the competition has. But as a new generation of computers that take traditional tasks a little further and adapt them to the world and the current technology situation. This Pro is very Pro for everything it does, and everything it will do and is certainly the way forward for the future of computing in the coming years. I’ve never had in my hands a computer so powerful, well designed, and with software that really reinvents itself and becomes more attractive day by day.
-The iPad Pro may need professional software to mature, but it already has apps and tools at a level that no other machine offers today-
True Depth cameras, sound, USB-C and your statement of intent
Removing the Lightning port on iPad Pro is not due to a transition of all iOS devices to USB-C, rather to the need to be able to use external accessories that use this interface comfortably: cameras, monitors… In my opinion it is an excellent idea, as we eliminate the need for adapters and accessories that bridge between them. For example, the HDMI to USB-C cable I used to connect my MacBook Pro to TV now serves me for the same thing with iPad Pro.
The sound has been slightly improved by also changing the body of the device: Apple has also designed new speakers – the finest it has ever created – especially for this iPad Pro, which continue to sound fabled and allow us to enjoy some bass powerful and clear treble even in noisy rooms or busy cafes.
The inclusion of True Depth cameras also brings selfies in Portrait Mode and Animojis to iPad Pro, more accurate than with the rear camera and with the same possibilities of later depth editing as on the iPhone XS. The rest of the features keep the 12 Mpx camera and 4K video, which conveniently treated with the A12X chip can give amazing results.