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

iPad Pro 2018
(Image: Apple)

Much like the tablet market as a whole, the iPad Pro had started to feel a little dull. But that changes from now

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31 October 2018 | 0

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. Here are six reasons why.

Face ID removes the home button
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 only with Face ID, and Apple’s TrueDepth sensors are hidden discretely in the 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.) Not only does it look good, but it also works regardless of how you’re holding the display.

It’s worth noting that some commentators were sure this feature would be coming to the iPad in the wake of iOS 12, which replaced the iPad’s traditional home button-focussed actions with the swipe gestures from the iPhone X. The controls were now there – the tech needed to catch up, and now it has.

Its A12X Bionic chip is a powerhouse
Reumours had it 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. It’s a beast, with seven-nanometer technology along with an eight-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores.

According to Apple, this gives it 35% better single-core CPU performance and 90% better multicore performance than last year’s iPad. For that matter, Apple also claims that the new iPad Pro is also 92% 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.

Pro desktop apps on the iPad are at last a reality
It’s not entirely certain why it has taken such a popular (and essential) design app like 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, all 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 impressive: Apple showed how you could see sweat on individual athletes in NBA 2K Mobile, along with fabric details on their jerseys.

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

The 11″ model has a resolution of 2388×1668 pixels with a pixel density of 264ppi, while the 12.9″ model has a resolution of 2732×2048 pixels, also at 264ppi. Last year’s iPad Pros shared the same pixel density.

Apple Pencil got a massive improvement
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 the matter). It also now pairs with the iPad immediately, although it’s not clear if this works on older iPads.

That’s not all. Taking cues from the AirPods, 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 €139, up from €99.

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 means you can use the same charging cable for your iPad that you use with your Mac, but it also means that you can simply hook up more stuff to the tablet itself. In line with Apple’s emphasis on artistic creation, Cupertino showed that you can hook up an external 5K display to an 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.

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.

Preorders for the new iPad Pro begin today, and the device starts shipping on November 7. The 11″ model begins at €909 and the 12.9″ model begins at €1,129.

Both models are available in silver and space gray, and come in 64Gb, 256Gb, 512Gb, and 1Tb storage configurations.

IDG News Service

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