I recently decided to purchase the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro, along with an Apple Pencil. I’ve been using it every day now for the past few weeks so I thought I’d share some thoughts on it, coming from an iPad Air 2.
The device doesn’t particularly feel bigger than an iPad Air 2 (because it mostly isn’t), but content and the keyboard is allowed to breathe just enough more that it feels much more comfortable to read on, and also to type on. The 120Hz refresh rate of the display is sublime, everything glides effortlessly. Does it help you specifically achieve anything? Probably not, but it made the 60fps iPhone 7 feel slow and clunky in comparison. In short: it’s an incredible luxury. The true tone feature, where the white balance of the display adjusts to match the ambient light temperature of the room in an effort to make the display mimic paper is an odd one. Most of the time you don’t notice it, which I suspect is the idea, but every now and again you notice that it just feels more natural, particularly if you’re coming back from another display.
The cpu is crazy fast, everything runs flawlessly. I’ve restarted it a couple of times, and it boots insanely quickly, not that it’s particularly important. You can be watching a twitch stream, looking up something in an email and catching up on slack all at the same time and the performance is the same as running those apps individually. I picked up affinity photo in the launch sale, it seems to comfortably perform better than Pixelmator does on my i7 2013 MacBook Pro. Perhaps not a fair yardstick for comparison, but it’s telling of what can be achieved on this device.
iOS 10 is great, and I personally don’t feel particularly stifled by it. You still have split view and popover, you still have great tablet apps designed for the platform. Pixelmator, slack, affinity photo, safari, mail, notes, numbers. These apps are all still great and work in the same way they always have.
In iOS 11 everything gets subtly better. Notes let’s you write notes without making a sketch, a subtle distinction that makes it much nicer to write notes on the go during meetings or classes. Mail lets you drag attachments around with reckless abandon, and signing a received PDF and sending it back can be achieved in seconds. Split view let’s you have the primary app on the left or right side, and you can change them at will. You can interact with the background app during slide over, and the slide over app can now also be placed on the left. Drag and drop is faster and easier than using a share sheet, though I feel like it could still be better somehow. It makes sense that the most new feature would have the most teething issues.
Nothing in iOS 11 is particularly ground shattering, but everything is just that little bit easier to the point that I find myself wanting to do some tasks on my iPad, even though my Mac may already be open and infront of me.
Can the iPad Pro replace your main computer? Maybe. It depends what you do. If it can’t then it’s almost certainly not a limitation of the iPad itself, and likely only struggles to replace your computer in the same way Firefox struggled to replace internet explorer when dealing with legacy enterprise web apps. One day someone will write great iPad apps for software development and content creation, and we may be drawn to those.
For me the question is less can the iPad replace a Mac, and more are there enough tasks that are easier on the iPad for it to be worth it. The answer is yes. Managing photos, minor editing, making notes, reading the web, catching up on Twitter, emailing, making calls, chatting on slack, online banking, watching twitch and signing documents are all less effort for me to do on my iPad.