iPad Pro Review
For my last review on the Apple TV (4th Generation) I did something out of the ordinary for me. I wrote the entire review using my iPad Air and a Kanex Bluetooth Keyboard. My iPad was primarily a consumption device. I would mainly use it to catch up on news, watch videos and play the occasional game. With the release of iOS 9, I began taking advantage of some of the new multitasking features. Slide-over made it extremely easy to look up information while writing the article and the new keyboard shortcuts, especially "command+tabbing" between apps, was a fantastic new addition. By the time I was finished I realized I actually enjoyed writing the article on my iPad. This sparked my interest in upgrading. I'm now the proud owner of an iPad Pro.
1. The Screen / As you may have guessed having a 12.9" screen to work on is awesome. Split screen multitasking is fantastic. As I write this review, I currently have Drafts open on the left side and Safari open to do some research. I really enjoy working this way. When the screen is split in half it's like having two iPad Air's side by side.
2. Speed / Apple included an A9X processor and 4 GB of RAM on the iPad Pro. The speed is a tremendous upgrade even from my 2 year old iPad Air. Switching and opening apps is instant. The RAM allows me to never have to reload webpages in Safari which was an annoyance on previous iPad. I did a bit of photo editing in Adobe Lightroom and some audio editing in Ferrite. Everything ran smooth. I have yet to do any video editing but the thought of it on an iPad is intriguing.
3. Speakers / The iPad Pro features a four speaker audio design bringing stereo for the first time to the iPad line of products. When moving from portrait to landscape, and vice versa, you'll actually hear the sounds move to different speakers to accommodate the way your holding it. My previous iPads have all been connected via Bluetooth to my Bose Soundlink Mini and I'm continuing to do this with my iPad Pro, but I'm finding I need to do this less. When listening to podcasts, the IPad Pro speakers are plenty loud enough. I no longer have to turn the volume up all the way. Some people will find the speakers to be adequate for movies and music as well. These are a huge step forward for mobile device speakers.
4. Keyboard Support / While not just an iPad Pro benefit, keyboard support in iOS 9 has added some great new features. These features are key to making the iPad Pro a productivity tool. Being able to "Command+Tab" through apps is an absolute joy, holding down the command key will allow you to view the available keyboard shortcuts in the app you have open. Not all apps support this but hopefully more will join in the future. I'm a huge spotlight user in OS X and the ability to "command+space bar" to bring up spotlight in iOS makes life much easier. I do wish the animation was a bit quicker and you could launch a result by using the arrow keys. There's also the universal key combination of "command+shift+h" which will always bring you back to the home screen. Some iOS keyboards have dedicated home buttons. I've been using Apple's Magic Keyboard which does not, but I have grown accustomed to using the home screen shortcut. The keyboard itself is small, light, charges with a lightning cable and feels nice to type on. Basically everything I want in an iOS keyboard so I can't complain.
5. Accessories / I've never used more accessories with an iPad than I do with the Pro. I've already mentioned the keyboard but I've also been using the SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Gaming Controller and the Apple Pencil. The game controller has a great feel and has given me new interest in gaming on iOS. While I have no drawing skills at all, the pencil feels very natural. Drawing is fun but taking notes is a much more real world scenario for me and so far the pencil is a great tool to do that. I couldn't give a realistic review of drawing on the iPad Pro so had my extremely talented friend Julie Eagan do a drawing for me. This was only the second time she had drawn something on the iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil and has never done any digital drawing before this. She picked it up pretty quickly and everything felt quite natural.
1. Battery / When you get a new thing, you tend to use it more in the beginning and overtime that usage time goes down. I'm not discounting that possibility here but I haven't had great battery life so far. My iPad Air was being charged every 3-4 days. My iPad Pro is more like every other day. I have been taking advantage of the large screen by watching more videos and playing more games. I'm in no way dissappointed with the battery life but I feel like having a larger device would result in some above average results.
2. Size / While having a giant iPad definitely has it's benefits it, there's also a few downsides. I tend to use the IPad Pro in landscape more the majority of the time. I purchased the Logitech CREATE Any-Angle Stand anticipating that I would mostly use the device in landscape. It's a fantastic case that offers great protection and as the product name suggests, allows you to adjust the iPad at any angle. While the case is on I do not use it in portrait mode. If I have to use it in portrait mode, like when playing playing Monument Valley, I'll take the case off. It's a bit too bulky to keep on and hold the iPad Pro upright.
1. Portrait Mode / Every iOS device in the past has been built to be used in portrait mode primarily with the occasional switch to landscape for a game or video. The iPad Pro, in my opinion, is a landscape device first with the switch to portrait being an occasional occurrence. Now don't get me wrong, portrait mode works fine. Every thing you did on your previous iPads you can do on an iPad Pro; except thumb typing for majority of us. Like I said previously, I take my iPad out of the case to use it in portrait mode. After about 5-10 minutes, it gets tiresome to hold the device in one hand so I end up propping it up on my legs while sitting on the couch. At this point I'm back to the Logictech Case and using it again in landscape. Again, portrait mode works perfectly fine, the set up screen can only be completed in portrait mode but I just don't want to use it that way. Landscape is just a better experience and I'm personally fine with that.
2. Not Enough App Support / Whenever Apple introduces a new size screen it takes some time for apps to update to take advantage of it. So far they have been few and far between. Developers are not rushing out to support Apple's declining sales category of iPad. Most of them are not even updating their apps to take advantage of the massive screen. So far the best apps I've used that actually take advantage of the screen are Drafts, Reeder, Tweetbot 4, and Fantastical 2. There are some more but these have been the one's that have really done a great job adapting their app for the iPad Pro. Unfortunately, some of my primary apps that I use on a daily basis have not seen an update. Especially apps from Google including Inbox, Docs and Sheets. It's really disappointing these apps have still not been updated since they are essential to my daily work.
There's certain tasks that for me are more enjoyable on the iPad Pro. I've been answering email, writing, doing research, watching videos primarily on my iPad Pro since getting it. While multitasking in iOS 9 helps me accomplish these tasks, I find that the simplistic view of one or two apps at a time helps me be more productive and stay focused. If you're already using your iPad Air or Mini as a productivity tool, the iPad Pro will be a nice upgrade if you don't mind the size. Starting at $799, the iPad Pro may be overpriced for many as a secondary device to their computers so many would elect for a smaller sized version. There's no doubt many people could use this device as their primary computer but until users learn that iPads in 2016 are more than just a consumption device, it would be a hard sell.