Apple iPad Pro is Official, Offered with “Pencil” Stylus, Smart Keyboard and a 12.9-inch Retina Display
As expected, Apple has pulled the wraps from the iPad Pro in the traditional majestic way. Tim Cook opened the show introducing the iPad Pro as the “most powerful iPad ever” fitted with the “biggest screen for iOS”. Apple claimed that it tried to create a bridge between the traditional smartphones and the notebook, part of which is the mammoth 12.9-inch display.
Formfactor and Display attributes
The width of the iPad Pro is equal to the height of iPad Air 2, and the revised dimensional attributes speaks a lot of how well the iPad Pro can accommodate the apps, the generous screen real estate means a lot to a lot of users who intend to use the iPad Pro for their work. The 12.9-inches display comes with a variable refresh rate, which changes the refresh frequency depending on the rate at which the things are moving. Suppose you are playing a game and the gameplay suddenly accelerates, variable refresh rate will come in play and hike up the screen performance accordingly. On the contrary, if it is a slow playing video, like an Opera event, the display will tame down the refresh rate. The variable refresh rate will not only offer the screen performance on tap but it will also help in bringing down the battery consumption, thus making the device more power efficient, thus contributing to the 10-hour battery life.
The “Pro” tag of the new iPad has automatically entrusted it with high expectations, especially on the performance end. As expected the iPad Pro has Apple’s new A9X chip at its heart. The A9X is the third generation 64-bit chipset from Apple that boasts of 2X read and write speed, 2X performance, 2X graphics performance and Apple claims that this sort of readies the iPad Pro to take its first step towards becoming a console class machine (ahem! not so fast, Apple). On the imaging front the iPad Pro comes with a 8-Megapixel iSight camera unit.
Contextually speaking, Apple claims that the iPad Pro is 80% faster than 80% of the PCs being shipped right now and is better in Graphics performance as compared to 90% of the current crop of PCs being shipped. That obviously includes low cost Windows and Linux PCs, so let’s not read too much into that. But it was impressing to see AutoCad being run with sheer smoothness at refresh rate of 60fps. The bottom line – Apple wants to convey the fact that new A9X Chipset is superlatively superior than its competition and it indeed is, at least when you compare it to other ‘tablets’.
It will take us some time in adjusting to the large 12.9-inch display as it is a giant leap not just for Apple but for the tablet industry in general. Looks wise, the iPad Pro resembles the iPad Air 2, as earlier leaks had pointed out the iPad Pro does come with a 4-speaker setup, two on the top and the remaining two at the bottom. The auto balance feature in the speakers automatically balances the sound on the left and right speaker, depending on how you hold it. New speaker setups will offer amplified Audio Volume to the tune of 3X as that of its predecessor. iPad Pro weighs in at 157 pounds which is slightly heavier than the first iPad, despite carrying a two times bigger display.
As we already mentioned, the reason for iPad Pro’s existence is merely not the giant screen size but the fact that Apple wants to blend a mobile device and a full fledged notebook into one single piece of gadgetry. The Cupertino folks have come up with a smart keyboard which comes with dome switch and three circles that will help it to connect with the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro will automatically optimize the UI in order to suit the keyboard.
iPad Pro comes with a stylus which garners the capabilities of the force touch. Apple calls the stylus “Apple Pencil”, and this indicates a turn of events for the company that loathed Styluses (remember Steve Jobs ridicule the Stylus whilst unveiling the first iPhone!). The Pencil is in fact a very important element that opens a multitude of function which were previously considered “too intense to be done on a tablet”. The Apple Pencil comes with an inbuilt battery and just in case you run out of juice, just plug it into the iPad Pro’s lightning connector slot.
Force touch is relatively a new technology and just to make sure users have enough applications to take the advantage of force touch, Apple has brought about some tailor made applications for the iPad Pro. Microsoft (Yes! Microsoft) has optimized MS Office applications for the iPad Pro and all of these applications can be opened in multiple windows allowing the users to copy paste data between the two. This feature will squarely eliminate the need to switch between the applications by minimizing them, thus renders a much needed boost in productivity.
We were impressed by how the guy from Adobe created a design in a few minutes and also seamlessly jumped from one application to another without having to close or minimise any of them. The application boasts of a three-touch horizontal save feature which will ensure you that your original design is always saved, without any prompts.
Apple Pencil will help users to sketch their way in most of the drawing tools and will also let them annotate on the documents, a feature that Samsung Galaxy Note 5 already boasts of. iPad Pro also comes with 3D Medical application which will help Doctors explain the scans or the reports to the patients intuitively and also send them the 3D image of the same. The app lets Doctors draw injuries in 3D and also annotate using the Pen tool.
Force Touch is like trying to draw in sand with your fingers, more is the pressure you apply the bolder the line will be. Additionally the Force Touch would eliminate the feeling of drawing on the screen and tries to simulate a paper like environment allowing users to shade the images in different tones, just like how they would do with a traditional pencil.
Pricing and Availability
If you are happy that Apple has bundled the Pencil and the Smart keyboard along with the iPad Pro as a retail package, you are mighty wrong. Both the smart keyboard and the Apple Pencil are separate accessories costing $99 and $149 respectively (phew!).
The Apple iPad Pro has been priced at $799 for 32GB, $949 for 64GB and $1079 for 128GB (Wi-Fi+LTE). The iPad Pro will be available only by November, just as the rumor mills predicted.
Apple has strived to make the iPads more relevant in users’ lives. The new features add a previously unseen level of functionality. Tablets have mostly been a recreational device used for daily media consumption, but with iPad Pro all this is set to change. It is but natural for the iPad Pro to come with better bunch of hardware as compared with its predecessor, so no brownie points on that one, but the fact that it has added a bunch of accessories which will help the working class is a plus point. Cue for Microsoft for creating the Surface (along with the keyboard accessory) back in 2012/13. That being said, I still can’t come to terms that a giant tablet can replace my trust worthy notebook and it will take maybe an iteration or two for Apple to come up with the perfect tablet to replace notebooks and ultrabooks, sans compromises.