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iPad Pro (2018), analysis: the future is unstoppable

You’re reading this from a world that didn’t exist 15 years ago. We started the millennium by placing ourselves inside our digital life thanks to the Internet , which already reached practically all homes – but within them only one place: that computer on the table, monolithic, imposing, noisy.

During all this time we got used to it. That powerful appearance resting almost like an altar – where we tuned in to our digital worlds further reinforced the idea of a powerful, complex machine, a point of entry. Almost a portal. We wanted to connect with something or someone and that’s why we went to it. It was almost part of the daily ritual, but it wasn’t an important part of it. It wasn’t intertwined with our needs, it just solved them at a certain moment. And not all of them, because we didn’t take him everywhere.

iPad Pro (2018), analysis: the future is unstoppable
iPad Pro (2018), analysis: the future is unstoppable

And suddenly, three devices in one. A cell phone, an iPod with a touch screen, an Internet browser. Apple called it “iPhone”, the rest of the world discovered it as a revolution that positioned us in the take-off ramp of something bigger: computers were already starting to travel in our pockets. No more “altars” in the form of desktops with our imposing machines on top. And things began to change.

Apps, mobility, ubiquitous computing

The door that Steve Jobs opened on January 9, 2007 with the iPhone changed what we understood as the concept of computer: perhaps we grew up or had heard too much about those mastodon machines of the second half of the 20th century – when technology seemed to have no limits and it was a great achievement that a computer occupied the entire size of a room to calculate space rocket trajectories.

Apple iPad Pro (11-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

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Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

Today on Amazon for 876.58

We grew up thinking that computers would always be on the table, but now technology is on the move

We had always seen them on our desks, we 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 converted into laptops. During this whole 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 realizing it we were all changing a bit along the way.

The iPhone has radically changed all those concepts taken to the extreme, as it is 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 increasing with the arrival 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 mean by computer.

Okay, this is not a standard analysis . I’ve got 455 words in this article and we haven’t commented on the device itself yet, but this is precisely one of the most important features of the iPad Pro: the way it shakes up certain dusty concepts and shakes up certain comforts that not everyone likes. To many, this product seems to be stealing attributes from its big brothers. At other times, it flatly denies the ability to completely replace ( this is the error ) a “traditional computer” – or what they understand by computer.

The competitive discourse that a computer can only have one desktop operating system is short-sighted and outdated

The repetitive maneuvering 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 think no device today does everything – maybe it shouldn’t either – and in my opinion the decision to recycle a desktop system to save the short term is only going to work in opportunistic advertising campaigns and fail in the medium to long term.

What is a computer? Apple started a recent campaign like this because at the point in the history of technology where we are it is convenient to ask it. If we don’t, we will fall into the error of underestimating the opportunities and losing others: of settling for what we have and not wanting to leave the comforts of what we knew before what is to come. No, the iPad Pro cannot do absolutely everything, but in all the facets in which the Apple product is strong, it is 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 that prepares the prelude to a plan, the one that is changing the heart of apps towards professional apps ( finally! ). You can call it post-PC, mobility, intersection… Without a doubt – this, ladies and gentlemen, is the iPad Pro and everything that’s coming with it.

More window than frame

The new design of the iPad Pro finally gets rid of the frames we were used to in previous generations, and proposes a design similar to that of the iPhone XXS. Perhaps in the case of this iPad Pro it is not so pronounced, keeping more edge but giving a sense of continuity around the perimeter. Thanks to this we eliminated the notch and here you can change to the hidden True Depth sensor bar under the edge. It appears to be more homogeneous and comfortable to work with.

This allows us to have a 12.9″ iPad Pro screen but reducing the size of the device by 25% : it is now much more portable and more comfortable to hold, especially the 11″ model – which practically takes up what a physical magazine traditionally took up. The thickness is 0.59 cm, very thin. I was worried that this first iPad Pro with a “square” design ( angles on the edges ) would be uncomfortable to hold but on the contrary: it has a good grip and is light enough to carry in a bag or briefcase as well as to hold in your hand.

The True Depth sensor bar is now located at the top if you hold the iPad Pro vertically, but it also works if you hold it horizontally. On this device, this bar has been modified by software so that face detection also works in this mode – this is appreciated when we have the iPad Pro on the table. Sometimes we unconsciously cover the bar with our hand, but the operating system itself will warn us about it so that we don’t think it’s a failure of Face ID.

A significant change is the removal of the Smart Connector which is now located at the bottom rear of the device. This change makes the accessories of the previous generation incompatible by position, and it has certainly been put there to improve how the Smart Keyboard is anchored to it : the magnetic connectors spread over the entire surface of the device make the new keyboard also a cover that covers the front and back, like a book cover.

About the new keyboard, few new things ( touch and operation identical to the previous generation ), beyond that: during this month of testing I really liked to see 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 it in almost any situation.

As points to improve: the keyboard should be backlit . A moving device is not always in the best light conditions and Apple should offer it even as an “extra” model to the current more basic one. Another thing that doesn’t convince me is that when we put the keyboard on the back of the iPad Pro to hold it like a book completely open by the cover, the least touches are the uncovered keys that rest behind. It’s okay because they’re not active, although it’s not comfortable. It’s the only drawback we’ll have for gaining in stability that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There is also a version of the Folio Cover available, which is basically the Smart Keyboard without a keyboard and designed so that it can be folded completely in a triangular fashion, similar to the previous generation. If you just want protection and a comfortable way to use a stand for the iPad Pro, this is one of the best options and protects much better than the previous model by anchoring itself better magnetically and closing the device in “book” mode.

Liquid Retina comes to the iPad Pro

To achieve a curved-edge design and reduce frames, Apple uses the Liquid Retina technology already employed in the iPhone XR : it is a display that enhances conventional LED panels, and has an exceptional appearance and colour fidelity. On paper, both screens ( the one on the mobile and the one on this iPad ) are the same, but the improvement in nits ( the brightness unit of digital screens ) which goes up to 600 gives a better impression.

In all my tests the colour fidelity and the representation has been very good : the depth of the black colours was always without marks or gradients even when looking at it with complicated angles and reflections in airports, train stations or cafés badly lit or with too much light. Reading digital books, comics, documents or magazines is truly a delight with this iPad Pro: the lightness of the product and the comfortable size mean that you don’t have to think about taking it out of your bag to look at what you need or to entertain yourself.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the screen on this iPad Pro (as on the previous one) is that Liquid Retina also features Pro Motion, which won an award for one of the year’s advances in display technologies. This technology allows you to adapt between 24 and 120Hz , which improves the graphic movement of the operating system – much more smoothly – and the response time of the touch interface.

New Apple Pencil, now yes

I still remember the ” ooooohhh ” that we heard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in the middle of a keynote, when we saw that the new Pencil was magnetically attached to the iPad Pro and that it also charged wirelessly. The charging design of the previous generation was long criticized: neither inserting it into the Lightning port nor using the adapter to charge it by cable was a very good design idea.

Apple iPad Pro (11-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

Today on Amazon for 710,15

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

Today on Amazon for 876.58

Again the magnets take full advantage of the new iPad Pro , holding the pencil very firmly on one side if it is held vertically or on top if it is on the table. I think all the guests at the presentation shook the iPad Pro like crazy with the Pencil on top of it to check that, and it held. The charge 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 with the AirPods – if we leave the Apple Pencil magnetically anchored for storage, we can practically forget that it requires charging.

That’s precisely the downside of the design at the moment: it can only be loaded with the new iPad Pro. There is no wireless charger or system that can do this, and we’ll have to wait if the Air Power finally comes out to check if it can be charged as well ( may be ). It’s nothing especially serious since this Pencil only works with this iPad Pro, and it will surely be solved in the next months with some accessory released for this purpose.

The design is tremendously successful: it looks more like a traditional pen, is not completely cylindrical so that it can be supported without sliding on the table – and can be attached flat to the iPad Pro – but is compatible with the interchangeable tips of the previous generation. The operation and characteristics of intensity, pressure and inclination are identical to the predecessor, only that we now have a small accelerometer in the attachment area that when tapped slightly twice, triggers a conceptual action in the app we use.

For example, in the notes app, the new Pencil allows you to switch between a drawing tool and an eraser. In other applications we can even select which action we want for the secondary touch , and it works quite comfortably and accurately without accidental changes. Here you can see the experience gained in the AirPods, where this gesture is also used in each of the headphones to play songs or activate Siri.

A12X Bionic

The evolution of Apple-designed processors is now unstoppable. They will come to Macs at some point in the medium term, and the power they deliver while remaining energy efficient is invaluable for the future. The learning from this experience has a direct impact on how you approach the next generation of processors, and this is especially evident in the A11 and A12 chips.

The enhanced iPad Pro version of the iPhone XS processor is the A12X chip, which is capable of no less than 5 billion operations per second. This computing power is especially useful for the artificial intelligence and “Machine Learning” tasks provided by iOS 12. 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 speaks volumes about the level achieved.

And it’s not just about raw power anymore, the key to these processors, as I said at the beginning, lies in energy efficiency. This means that they are capable of self-managing to use only the power they need when they need it , and that they do not need complicated cooling mechanisms such as fans or similar that would reduce the battery life. Having something like this in a device as light and with as much autonomy as the iPad Pro is what really differentiates it as a product far 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 impression of improvement of this iPad Pro is that Apple does not accompany it with a Pro software ready to exploit the capabilities and advantages of the new hardware. I believe that the company needs to take two important steps to make this device avoid any doubt that it is much more than a conventional tablet: the first one is a dedicated iOS, far from the one of 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 work colleagues or family and it would be very wise for each to have their own accounts, applications and services.

Beyond the operating system, applications have to rely on software that is not a little brother to the mature desktop version. In a way it is logical that this has not yet been bet on, the desktop versions of Photoshop or Final Cut Pro have been on the table for a long time and use a usage paradigm ( 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 who use the conventional version, but 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 the software beyond what we knew, by putting it in the context of the world that the iPad Pro is capable of.

For the future we expect the arrival of more professional software. Photo retouching companies for example are already releasing Pro versions of their software and we expect Apple to take the next step: to release apps like Logic, Xcode or Final Cut Pro adapted for the iPad Pro , personally I don’t think it will take long to have news in this sense.

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

All this does not mean that this device remains a conventional tablet, its power and versatility specify what really defines this product: it cannot be used for everything – such as developing software in the absence of conventional development environments. However, whether we’re photographers, video editors, artists, journalists, musicians or architects, this iPad Pro can perfectly solve almost 90% of the needs we have : in a way that you can never do a desktop computer tuned in a tablet case, like the competition. But as a new generation of computers that take traditional tasks a bit 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 have never had in my hands a computer so powerful, well designed, and with a software that really reinvents itself and becomes more attractive every day.

True Depth cameras, sound, USB-C and its statement of intent

The removal of the Lightning port on the iPad Pro is not due to a transition of all iOS devices to USB-C, but rather to the need to be able to use external accessories that use this interface comfortably : cameras, monitors… In my opinion this is an excellent idea, as we eliminate the need for adapters and accessories that bridge the gap between them. For example, the HDMI to USB-C cable that I used to connect my MacBook Pro to the TV, now serves me the same purpose with the iPad Pro.

The sound has been slightly improved by changing the body of the device as well: Apple has also designed new speakers – the finest it has ever created – especially for this iPad Pro, which still sound great and allow us to enjoy powerful bass and clear treble even in noisy rooms or busy cafés.

The inclusion of the True Depth cameras also brings the selfies in Portrait Mode and the Animojis to the iPad Pro, more accurate than with the rear camera and with the same depth editing possibilities as on the iPhone XS. The rest of the features keep the 12 Mpx camera and 4K video , which treated conveniently with the A12X chip can give amazing results.

Conclusions

After using the iPad Pro for a month, I think it’s one of the best computers I’ve ever had . The field that this professional model has opened up has only been on the market for three years and the pillars on which it is being discussed have many roots. That is why there is always a passionate debate about it, a sign that it is shaking up pillars that we thought were immovable.

The reality of day-to-day life with it is that anything we can do with an iPad Pro that we find more comfortable to do than with a laptop , we’ll end up doing on it. This natural transition is a true move from the desktop to this understanding of technology, and the power and ease of use it offers will make it very conveniently the primary tool for many of us to use for certain tasks, or even all of them.

We are in a world that we did not know 15 years ago, but that we did imagine through science fiction films: now we are able to do much more and be more creative thanks to these tools that are progressively migrating our habits and our way of consuming technology. Right now, the iPad Pro is the cutting edge of computing for the present , and the future. And it is absolutely unstoppable, fortunately.

Apple iPad Pro (11-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

Today on Amazon for 710,15

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 64GB with Wi-Fi) – Space Grey (Latest Model)

Today on Amazon for 876.58

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