First 24 Hours with 9.7” iPad Pro

Just some initial observations…

It’s fast and the screen is beautiful – the colours really pop.

I’m not fully convinced on the “True Tone” technology. Sitting at my desk, it makes the screen seem warmer, almost as if I’d switched the Night Shift option on. It is a little distracting when comparing to my other devices and desktop monitors that don’t have True Tone capabilities. However, trying the smaller iPad Pro compared to a normal iPad Air 2 in direct sunlight, the iPad Pro does look better and more natural. The iPad Air 2 seems more washed out and has a definite blue colour whilst the iPad Pro looks more natural. I’ll experiment further.

I’ve become accustomed to the luxury of the larger iPad Pro when couch surfing. I tried the smaller iPad Pro and it felt too small. The smaller form factor means that you tend to have to hold it to position it correctly, but the larger iPad Pro just seems to sit more easily on your lap. If you’ve never used the larger iPad Pro, this won’t be a problem for you, but sitting in front of the TV, I had to put the smaller version down and go back to the larger size. When it comes to travelling, the smaller size of the new iPad Pro will win out.

I’ve used Split View but again, the size of the small iPad Pro gives you the equivalent of two iPad minis side by side, whereas the larger iPad Pro is like two iPad Airs side by side. Might not be a deal breaker for some people, but with my eyesight, I definitely prefer the larger size.

Not yet had chance to play with the Camera.

The Apple Pencil works just fine as you might expect, and swapping it between both devices is just a matter of plugging it into the device you want to use it with for a few seconds.

I mentioned yesterday about my dissatisfaction with Apple’s pricing of accessories – I’d stumped up £55 for the Silicone Case but thought I’d be able to use one of my existing Smart Covers with the new iPad Pro.

Wrong!

It transpires that you need to buy an iPad Pro specific Smart Cover, the older iPad Smart covers don’t work as the magnet positioning is different. I’ll give Apple the benefit of the doubt here, in that due to the new Smart Connectors on the side of the iPad Pro, it probably wasn’t possible to support the older iPad Smart Covers. The older Smart Cover won’t attach to the side of the new iPad Pro.

The question is now do I stump up an extra £39 for the iPad Pro Smart Cover, or £129 for the Smart Keyboard.

I already have both a Smart Cover and a Smart Keyboard for the larger iPad Pro, and I much prefer carrying it around with just the Smart Cover – the Smart Keyboard adds considerable bulk to the larger iPad Pro.

As an aside, the larger Smart Keyboard works just fine with the smaller iPad Pro if you remove the Silicone Case, but that’s not really practical.

Small iPad Pro on larger Smart Keyboard

9.7″ iPad Pro on a large Smart Keyboard!

As I’ll be using the smaller iPad Pro mainly whilst travelling, and I’ll usually have my MacBook with me, I’ll probably stick with just the Smart Cover for now.

My general feeling is that if you’re used to using a standard iPad, the upgrade to the 9.7” iPad Pro is a no brainer. If you’re already used to the larger size, you may not want to downsize.

Unless you do a lot of travelling that is, the smaller iPad Pro is much more portable!

Ouch! How much?

IMG 1580

 

So this morning, I swanned off to my not so local Apple store to pick up a new 9.7” iPad Pro – I had to, it’s my job!

I was intrigued by the new “True Tone” technology built into the display, but I also wanted to check out the audio quality and performance. And the camera – I wanted to check out the camera too seeing as how it’s the first iPad with support for 4K video.

I could do all this in store of course, but it’s so much better to spend a couple of days with a new device to understand fully how it handles, and how it compares to other devices. As I’m not on Apple’s list of approved bloggers, I don’t get review units. So if I want to try one, I have to buy one.

I especially wanted to compare the smaller form factor and enhanced features to the larger iPad Pro in day to day usage. The larger iPad Pro is an awesome device and I love the larger size, but it is big!

Stonkingly big in fact – just a bit too big to be a truly portable device, especially when it’s not your primary device. I still prefer a Mac as my primary computing device.

So I’ll test it out over the next week or so, and post a comparative review between the smaller and larger iPad Pros.

In case you’re wondering, I went with the 9.7” iPad Pro, Space Grey, 128GB, Wifi Model. As with the larger iPad Pro, I felt uncomfortable having such a slender, vulnerable bit of kit without a case,  so I also went with the Apple iPad Pro Silicone Case in Charcoal.

Which leads me to a particular bugbear of mine…

I know the iPad Pro is not cheap, but I can appreciate why it attracts a premium price. Once you take into account the cost of research & development, the cost of materials, the cost of assembly, the cost of marketing and the costs associated with herculean efforts that Apple go to to bring these premium products to market across multiple countries, you can understand why they are priced the way they are. Premium pricing for premium products.

I get that, and I’m happy to pay a premium to get the latest and greatest.

However, what I don’t appreciate and what I think gives Apple a really bad name, is the disgraceful cost of the Apple accessories, brought home today with pricing of the 9.7″ iPad Pro Silicone Case – £55 including VAT for a single piece of silicone rubber with a soft lining – that’s almost $80 inc tax. Basically a single piece moulding that covers the back of the iPad Pro. No components, no electronics, probably minimal assembly.

I know Apple has to make a profit (they are quite good at that), but I do think £55 is, shall we say, a little excessive. It doesn’t even include the Smart Cover which is another £39 on top!

Yes, I could wait a couple of weeks for a much cheaper third party case, but that means using the iPad Pro for a couple of weeks without protection, and I’m not happy to do that.

It’s no wonder some people have such a dim view of Apple products, and leave us Apple customers open to criticism.

Just wanted to get that off my chest!

Where’s the fun?

Apple GraphicSo it’s time for another Apple event later today.

As usual I, like many other Apple fans, are eagerly anticipating to hear what is to be announced.

Or should I rephrase that…

I, like many other Apple fans, are waiting for confirmation of what’s been rumoured for the last several months.

Initially rumoured, and then enhanced, tweaked and then pronounced as definite.

So I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anyones day by repeating that the two devices we should be seeing today are the new iPhone SE (the new smaller iPhone), and the new smaller iPad Pro supporting the Apple Pencil. Oh, and we’ll probably also see the release of iOS 9.3 – an OS that has been in public beta for quite a while.

Don’t get me wrong, if they do get announced, these will all be solid products, but I do miss the days of the surprise product announcements.

Apple are just so huge now, I suppose it’s difficult to keep hardware products secret to the extent they used to be. They can still suprise with hardware – the cylindrical Mac Pro and the new single port MacBook spring to mind. But with iOS devices being produced on such a massive scale, I would imagine it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible to maintain a high level of secrecy.

I’m still looking forward to the event as it will still be fascinating to see how they position these new devices in their overall product line, and how they sell the benefits.

But I’m not expecting any major suprises today to dilute or distract from the iOS message they’ll be delivering.

We most likely will need to wait for WWDC in June for any new Mac hardware… or dare I even mention, the fabled 5K Apple Cinema Display.

One can but hope!

Syncing iPads?

So now I have a new iPad Air and a new iPad mini. All in the name of research of course!

Both machines are wonderful, but each has a specific role for me:

The iPad Air tends to be my main iPad when at my desk, or when I need to use the keyboard for extended periods of time.

The iPad mini is my travel iPad and the one I turn to when away from my desk.

I could use one quite easily for both roles, but hey, I need to keep up with the latest and greatest.

So my first world problem is how to keep them in sync.

Yes, I know I can sync new apps quite easily. That’s built into iOS. I just switch on automatic downloads for Music, Apps, Books and Updates and everything new will be pushed to both iPads. However, if I delete an app off one of the iPads, it will remain on the second iPad.

I’d also like to sync my home screen layouts – re-arrange on 1 iPad and the changes in icon positioning and layout are reflected on the other.

A current Twitter stream suggests that Apple Configurator could be the answer, but I’m not sure it would acheive what I really want – it may be a half way house though.

iCloud backup/restore is also a potential half way house solution – Configure one of the iPadsd as I want it, do an iCloud backup and restore to the second device. Again, it will establish a common starting position, but over time, things will drift. There is also the issue of user data. It can take quite a while to restore data and there’s always the issue of re-entering some passwords and re-authorising apps in the restored version.

I just want changes on one to be reflected on the other in real time and automatically.

Not a major problem, but as iPads start to become more popular, I’m sure others will have the same (nice to have) problem!

iOS8 perhaps?

The iPad Pro?

The iPad Pro, when it inevitably arrives, might be defined by a larger screen, TouchID and other hardware enhancements we may not yet be aware of.

However, it shouldn’t be the hardware that defines it, it should be defined by the software, and what the software allows you to do on the new device.

Much as I love my new iPad Air, and am in awe of the tremendous power under the hood, the constraints of the current single application mode of working in iOS stops me from using the iPad as a primary personal computer. The compromises and effort required to do anything but the simplest of tasks, relegates the current iPad to a secondary device.

A very useful one, but for my workflows, I could never use the iPad as my primary device.

This post by Kyle Baxter nails it…

…iOS still hews closely to the one-app-at-a-time, app-as-silo concept that began with the iPhone in 2007. For some purposes, this actually makes the iPad a better tool than the PC; the iPad’s limited ability to multitask makes it easier to focus on writing or other focused tasks like sketching. But it also significantly constrains what’s possible on the device. Writing an email or article that references a website or note, or doing any work that requires looking at one application’s content while working in another, requires flipping back and forth between applications, which makes for an excellent test of patience. And there is virtually no support for allowing two applications to work together on a single task by passing data between them.

Where Does The iPad Go From Here

Hopefully iOS8 will bring the necessary features required to elevate a future variant of the iPad to a true Pro machine.