All work And play
Since its inception in 2010, the design of the iPad has remained fairly unchanged. Apple did experiment with the display size by launching variants such as the Mini and Pro, while keeping the circular home button intact. The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro replaces the one launched in October 2015, and competes head on with Microsoft’s Surface range. The display is super bright –boasting 2,732 x 2,048 pixel resolution – and the device is sleek at 6.9-mm thickness. It is light – weighing 677 gm – and easily slides into a 13-inch laptop sleeve.
Apple’s touch experience is unparalleled and now has been further enhanced with its ProMotion technology which is powered by a separate core in the iPad’s processor. The ProMotion technology delivers refresh rates of up to 120Hz (most devices come with 60Hz refresh rate) for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness and smoother motion content. On the new iPad Pro, depending on the content on the screen, the refresh rate varies from 24Hz to 120Hz. For instance, the homescreen has a lower refresh rate, but while watching videos or playing games the refresh rate increases.
The touch response, for both finger touch and the Apple Pencil Stylus (needs to be purchased separately), has been improved. Creative professionals will be delighted at the responsiveness of the stylus on this new device. Apple has also added the A10X fusion chip, which is 30 per cent faster than the previous generation iPad Pro, offering a far better experience while editing 4K videos or photos which can be taken from the 12-MP rear camera on the iPad (same as on the iPhone 7). Professionals can use special editing apps like Affinity Photo, Plotagraph, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, etc, too.
A lot of credit goes to the productivity features and enhanced UI of the iOS 11. The highlight of the iOS 11 is the app dock where one can add favourite apps on the left and suggested apps – based on usage across iPhone or Mac – appear on the right. Swiping up from the bottom brings up the dock along with the app switcher for multitasking and the control centre for shortcuts. Switching between apps is quick and iOS 11 remembers the combinations of apps multitasked with previously. Apart from split screen view, which the previous iPads, too, support, the new one has additional features such as drag and drop between apps. For instance, I could simply drag an image or a URL from the Safari browser and drop it into notes or even an email when Split View is open.
The new Files app brings together files from apps, cloud and even Dropbox in one place; recently worked-on apps can also be accessed from the Recent tab within the app. There is a new document scanner in the Notes feature that automatically scans documents, and enables digital signatures using Apple Pencil. The Pencil stylus can also be used to mark up screenshots and PDFs with Instant Markup. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch is still shipping with iOS 10, but we installed the Public Beta version of iOS 11 to test these new productivity features. The final version of the iOS 11 will be released later this year. Apple also claims to offer search options for handwritten notes, but it did not work for us.
The full-size smart keyboard enhances productivity manifold. Typing is intuitive; it also supports keyboard shortcuts for switching between apps and commands such as copy, cut, paste and more. While this original keyboard is priced on the higher side, there are several third-party Bluetooth keyboards that you can consider. Our review unit came with the Apple Pencil and the smart keyboard. When used as the primary device, the productivity of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was impressive – be it typing, switching between apps or the drag and drop feature.
Using the Pages app (Apple’s word processor), I was able to share documents with non-Apple users. The only thing I missed was the Archive folder as in the Outlook Mail on my laptop. Another let-down is the lack of a USB port for plugging in flash drives – one has to invest in special drives with lighting connectors. It also falls short on the storage front – 64-GB storage in the base model is inadequate for a primary machine. The battery back-up was impressive even when used as a primary machine; a single charge lasted a day with close to ten hours of usage – documentation, browsing, streaming videos and playing games.