Padding Up: Seven changes we would love to see on the new iPad Pro!
Trim ‘em bezels, pencil space and more...
There is an Apple event coming up later today. And while the Cupertino giant has in the best tradition, kept a studied silence about what it will showcase at the event, speculation is (in another best tradition) rife that new iPad Pros will be among those products that will see the light of the day (or glow of the hall…whatever!). There is a good reason to believe this as well. The iPad Pro range is due for a refresh after all. So what can we expect? Well, Apple knows the answer. But we would love to see the following features on the new iPads:
FaceID, but no notch please
We think Face ID is a must on the iPad Pro, simply because it would be so much more convenient to just look and unlock the display rather than look for the fingerprint sensor, which appears even tinier than it does on the iPhone, thanks to it being right next to an even larger display. We also think it would be kind of cool if all those sensors on the front would enable you to lock the display by just waving your hand across it – sometimes that is SO necessary to keep away those prying eyes (much more of an issue with a large display tablet than a smaller phone). Our only appeal would be to avoid a notch – one can understand space being at a premium in phones that have to fit into coat and trouser pockets, but in a tablet, surely the sensors and cameras can be arrayed in a less intrusive manner!
More screen in less space
Yes, we know we just railed about the notch, but that said, we would not be averse to some severe bezel trimming on the iPad Pro. The 12.9-inch one is rather massive in particular. We would, therefore, appreciate a bit of bezel space being taken off in the interest of more display space. Mind you, we would not like something as severe in the bezel-less department as the iPhone XS, because we actually hold tablets by the bezels on the side of the display, rather than the sides of the device itself as in the case of phones (our palms are simply not big enough to stretch around a tablet). So more display in less space and more compact form factors, please, but…leave us with something to hang on to!
Handwriting recognition out of the box
We know that the iPad Pro has a very good onscreen keyboard. That said, one of its most distinctive features is its compatibility with the Apple Pencil, and for some reason, the iPad Pro does not come with handwriting recognition. Yes, there are apps like Nebo Writer which can convert your scribbles into typed text but in most cases, these come with a price tag and do not work as smoothly as in an inbuilt handwriting recognition feature would. It would be neat if one could just scribble a reply to a text message while sketching, without having to put the pencil away and invoke the keyboard. So make handwriting recognition native, Apple?
Need a place to put the pencil
All right, we know that the Apple Pencil is an optional accessory and does not come bundled with the iPad Pro (more on that later), but we do think it is important enough for Apple to start thinking in terms of giving it some space – literally – on the iPad Pro. It might be a magnetic panel to which the Pencil can stick at the bare minimum or maybe a slot into which it can be inserted (a la the Galaxy Note) at the most (as it would require considerable design tweaking for something that the consumer might not even purchase), but really, that stylus deserves better than just being allowed to roll off on its own – which it does way too often for comfort right now.
Better keyboard connectivity…
Another point about an “optional” accessory. This time it is the Smart Keyboard cover that snaps on to the iPad Pro using magnetic connectors on the side of the tablet. When it works, it seems super and more convenient than fiddling around with Bluetooth settings with wireless keyboards. However, when it does not work – and our experience has seen the keyboard suddenly stop responding and “accessory not supported” messages popping up on the iPad – then you are literally stuck, with no option but to pull the iPad out and then jam it back on the keyboard. And pray. Those connectors need to be improved, really, and well, we would not object to having Bluetooth as an option when the connectors get moody!
…and more keys please (lit, preferably)
This is again about the Smart Keyboard cover. It is a bit silly that Apple’s own keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro does not come with keys to control functions like locking the display, going to the home screen or even controlling volume and brightness – features that we have seen on keyboards from other manufacturers (yes, we appreciate the irony). It would also be nice to have the keys backlit for those times when we need to type in the dark. And as those lights need some battery, how about giving that keyboard a battery of its own, so that it not only does not suck the life out of the poor iPad!
Some wireless charging…but not what you are thinking
Give the size of the iPad Pros, we are not sure they are ideally suited for wireless charging – you would need massive charging pads to park the tablets on, for starters. So why the heading? Well, simply because given the massive battery inside the iPad Pro, we think it would be kind of cool if we would use it to charge other Apple devices wirelessly. Imagine being able to get some charge back into your AirPods or iPhone by simply placing it for a while on your iPad Pro? Yes, it would take some fancy engineering, but then hey, this is Apple we are talking about.
And one – actually, two – more thing(s)
Bundle a keyboard and an Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro, please. We do not know how the economics will work out, but well, whatever Apple fears, it is certainly not stiff price tags on its devices. Yes, users should have the option of just purchasing the iPad Pro only, but a special bundled option should be available too, preferably at a price that is lower than the cost of purchasing all the accessories separately.