Six ways the iPad Pro re­fresh makes Ap­ple’s tablet ex­cit­ing again

The iPad Pro had started to feel a lit­tle dull, but that’s changed with the new iPad, writes Leif John­son

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

The iPad Pro has long been an im­pres­sive de­vice (even if you weren’t so hot on that whole ‘what’s a com­puter’ bit), but if we’re be­ing frank, it had be­come kind of bor­ing. The past few years brought new fea­tures and new pe­riph­er­als such as the Ap­ple Pen­cil, but on the whole it felt lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the de­vice Steve Jobs showed us in 2010.

That changes to­day. Ap­ple’s lat­est iPad Pro re­tains the feel of the world’s most pop­u­lar tablet, while re­fo­cus­ing it to cater to mod­ern needs and in­tro­duc­ing its most sig­nif­i­cant de­sign change to date. Re­gard­less of whether we’re talk­ing about its ports, its dis­play, or even its means of in­put, it’s bet­ter sit­u­ated to be a desk­top re­place­ment than ever be­fore.

1. Face ID re­moves the an­noy­ances of the home but­ton

I think you could make the case that the home but­ton was a good fit for the iPhone, but it al­ways felt awk­ward on the iPad. You had to hold that but­ton down when­ever you wanted to un­lock it, which was an­noy­ing

in both por­trait and land­scape mode, par­tic­u­larly for a de­vice that was never rest­ing squarely in your hand. It also wasted pre­cious time.

The new iPad Pro comes with Face ID only, and Ap­ple’s TrueDepth sen­sors are hid­den dis­cretely in the su­per-thin bezels sur­round­ing the dis­play. (This de­sign also sug­gests Ap­ple may be able to do away with the so-called notch by the time next year’s iPhones roll back around.) Not only does it look good, but it also works re­gard­less of how you’re hold­ing the dis­play.

It’s worth not­ing that we were sure this fea­ture would be com­ing to the iPad in the wake of iOS 12, which re­placed the iPad’s tra­di­tional home but­ton­fo­cused ac­tions with the swipe ges­tures from the iPhone X. The con­trols were now there – we just needed to wait on the tech­nol­ogy. And now it’s here.

2. Its A12X Bionic chip is a pow­er­house

We were won­der­ing if the A12 chip we saw in the iPhone XS would be get­ting a boost for the iPad Pro, and Ap­ple de­liv­ered with the A12X Bionic chip. And it’s a beast, boast­ing seven-nanome­ter tech­nol­ogy along with an eight-core CPU with four per­for­mance cores and four ef­fi­ciency cores.

Ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple, this gives it 35 per­cent bet­ter sin­gle-core CPU per­for­mance and 90 per­cent bet­ter mul­ti­core per­for­mance than what we saw in last year’s iPad. For that mat­ter, Ap­ple also claims that the new iPad Pro is also 92 per­cent faster than all other por­ta­ble PCs. We can quib­ble over that per­cent­age a lit­tle, but all the same, it’s hard to deny that this is a won­der­fully ca­pa­ble de­vice. Which means:

3. Pro desk­top apps on the iPad are at last a re­al­ity

We’re not sure why it’s taken such a pop­u­lar de­sign app such as Adobe Pho­to­shop so long to come to the iPad, but it seems safe to say that wor­ries about poor per­for­mance on a tablet were in play. Those should no longer be a con­cern, thanks to the power that Ap­ple is pack­ing in the A12X Bionic pro­ces­sor.

On stage Ap­ple showed that it’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to use Adobe Pho­to­shop on the iPad Pro, which opens the door for many other re­source-de­mand­ing apps to make their way to the iPad as well.

Nor do these per­for­mance gains solely af­fect pro­duc­tiv­ity. Ap­ple also showed off 2K’s NBA 2K Mo­bile game on the iPad Pro at its un­veil­ing, all the while claim­ing that its lat­est tablet de­liv­ers the same kind of gam­ing per­for­mance you’ll find on the Xbox One S con­sole but in a much smaller pack­age. That’s par­tially thanks to the new seven-core GPU that come comes in the new iPad Pro, which Ap­ple claims dou­bles the per­for­mance over the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. The de­tail was cer­tainly im­pres­sive: Ap­ple showed how you could see sweat on in­di­vid­ual ath­letes in NBA 2K Mo­bile, along with fab­ric de­tails on their jer­seys.

4. Im­proved dis­play makes it ideal for sketch work

Much as it did with the iPhone, Ap­ple man­aged to greatly slim the bezels on the iPad Pro, al­low­ing its ‘Liq­uid Retina’ dis­play to reach from edge to edge and top to bot­tom. (For that mat­ter, the body it­self is slim at only 5.9mm thick, which Ap­ple says amounts to 25

per­cent less vol­ume than its pre­de­ces­sor.) Not only does this look sleek and mod­ern, but it makes the iPad Pro more of an ideal can­vas for artists and scrib­blers in that it bet­ter re­sem­bles a sheet of pa­per.

In fact, Ap­ple ex­pressly showed that it was aim­ing for this form fac­tor. The new iPad Pros comes in two sizes – 11- and 12.9in – both of which are sizes that artists and writ­ers are com­fort­able with on pa­per. At one point Ap­ple over­laid an im­age of the iPad Pro with a stan­dard Amer­i­can 8.5x11in sheet of pa­per and showed that there was vir­tu­ally no dif­fer­ence in size. Im­pres­sive.

The 11in model has a res­o­lu­tion of 2,388x1,668 pix­els with a pixel den­sity of 264 pix­els per inch, while the 12.9in model has a res­o­lu­tion of 2,732x2,048 pix­els, also at 264 pix­els per inch. Last year’s iPad Pros shared the same pixel den­sity.

5. Ap­ple Pen­cil got a mas­sive im­prove­ment

Ahead of to­day’s event, we com­piled a list of fea­tures we wanted to see from the new Ap­ple Pen­cil. Hap­pily, Ap­ple gave us most of what we wanted, greatly im­prov­ing an al­ready im­pres­sive de­vice.

No longer do you have to awk­wardly charge the Ap­ple Pen­cil by in­sert­ing it per­pen­dic­u­larly into the iPad; in­stead, you can sim­ply use a new flat­ted edge on the Ap­ple Pen­cil 2 to snap it to the 102 mag­nets sur­round­ing the iPad it­self, which will charge it wire­lessly. In one step, Ap­ple elim­i­nated the frus­tra­tions of not hav­ing a place to stow the Pen­cil and not be­ing able to charge it with­out wor­ry­ing about break­ing it (or los­ing the cap, for that mat­ter). It also

now pairs with the iPad im­me­di­ately, although it’s not clear whether this works on older iPads.

And that’s not all. Tak­ing cues from the Air Pods, the Ap­ple Pen­cil now lets you switch brush stroke styles sim­ply by tap­ping twice, and Ap­ple says you’ll be able to cus­tom­ize this ac­tion with other apps. It sounds cool, but I’d like to try it out. Right now I’m a lit­tle wor­ried about ac­ci­den­tally trig­ger­ing it too of­ten when I’m ner­vously tap­ping my fin­ger while think­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, it looks as though the new Ap­ple Pen­cil will only work with the new iPad Pro (and you won’t be able to use the old Ap­ple Pen­cil with the newer de­vice – there’s no way to charge it, for one). Nat­u­rally, Ap­ple also boosted the price on the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion de­vice, as it now costs £119 in­stead of the orig­i­nal model’s £89.

6. USB-C makes the new iPad Pro ideal for at­tach­ing pe­riph­er­als

Ap­ple is al­ways go­ing on about how USB-C is the fu­ture, but it usu­ally comes off as a mixed mes­sage, con­sid­er­ing how USB-C us­age has been lim­ited largely to the Mac line while iOS de­vices re­tain their Light­ning ca­bles. The new iPad Pro, though, only has a USB-C port.

Not only does this mean you can use the same charg­ing cable for your iPad that you use with your Mac, but it also means you can sim­ply hook up more stuff to the tablet it­self. In line with Ap­ple’s em­pha­sis on artis­tic cre­ation to­day, the Cu­per­tino com­pany demon­strated that you can hook up an ex­ter­nal 5K dis­play to your iPad us­ing USB-C. It also showed that

you can hook up mul­ti­ple other pe­riph­er­als such as cam­eras and use your iPad Pro to charge your iPhone. Hello, pro­duc­tiv­ity.

We cur­rently have no idea how much that will drain the bat­tery of the iPad Pro it­self (which holds a charge for 10 hours of ac­tive use), but we’re look­ing for­ward to hav­ing fewer ca­bles to worry about.

Face ID is great, but I’d hate to face that bill

So much room

The Ap­ple Pen­cil now lets you switch brush stroke styles sim­ply by tap­ping twice,

The 2018 iPad Pro has a USB-C port

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