sees both the agony and the ecstasy in one place on his new iPad pro, and its abominable keyboard case
As established elsewhere in this issue, the new iPad Pro is very nice indeed. I have the 12.9-inch model, and the impressive thinness combined with how small it feels despite the size of screen make it feel like we’re getting a fabled bit of Apple ‘magic’ in the tablet for the first time in years.
The flat front, sides and back give it an interesting feeling, like it’s an inert slab that images magically appear on, rather than a designed object with ergonomics and technology. The unblemished smoothness gives it an extra air of quality – flawless aluminium and glass.
And then I put the keyboard case on it and it suddenly looks like a notepad bulk-ordered by IBM for people to carry around with their ThinkPads in the 90s.
I can’t work out whether I’d find it as offensive if it didn’t cost £199, but it does, so who cares. If it was made of leather and came in rich blue and deep red, I could probably take it at that price. But it’s so unremittingly grey. It’s the colour of peat bog. The hue of the inside of an exhaust pipe. It’s what I imagine people with synaesthesia see when John Major talks.
It has a super-plain exterior, with only a single crease where you fold it for typing, which I would find appealing if there was anything to actually look at. Instead, its perfect flat greyness actively rejects the eye’s gaze. You can barely focus on it, like an oleophobic coating for human interest. I mean, it’s a perfectly good keyboard, but then I’ve used other perfectly good keyboards that did not cost as much as my last MOT.
The disconnect between these two objects feels so vast, I keep wondering how they can come from the same company. Do the accessories cross Jony Ive’s desk? Surely the Pencil has his probably-somehow-totally-smooth fingerprints all over it, but does he just check out the second keys are involved? Because I cannot imagine him taking his new iPad Pro to show his buddy Marc Newson, proudly wrapped in this grey abomination, crowing about what a beautiful and pristine ode to the tone of tarmac it is.
The thing is, I feel like this kind of design issue is starting to apply to more Apple products. That old iPhone battery case with the square pack sticking out of the back springs to mind.
When Apple only made a handful of products, and a few accessories to match, it felt like everything got the same meticulous treatment. Even iPod socks, though kinda weird, were impeccable colours, with visual interest from a two-tone finish.
But now Apple makes seven phones, five tablets, nine Macs, I can’t count how many watches… it feels like some things don’t get the same keen fixation on beautiful design, even if the quality is still excellent.
But then, it’s only as bad as the original iPad’s case, and Steve Jobs introduced that.
It’s so grey – it’s like an oleophobic coating for human interest
This just makes me sigh every time I see it. What a big clean canvas to do absolutelynothing with…
Tech21 joined up with the store Liberty to put the latter’s famous fabric designs on phone cases.