Thursday, November 12, 2015

iPad Pro Reviews

Tim Cook:

Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.

John Gruber:

We’ve now reached an inflection point. The new MacBook is slower, gets worse battery life, and even its cheapest configuration costs $200 more than the top-of-the-line iPad Pro.


The iPad Pro is “pro” in the way MacBook Pros are. Genuine professionals with a professional need — visual artists in particular — are going to line up for them. But it’s also a perfectly reasonable choice for casual iPad users who just want a bigger display, louder (and now stereo) speakers, and faster performance.


For just plain typing, it’s not that bad […] My complaints and frustrations are more from the software, both iOS 9.1 itself and individual apps, both from Apple and third-party developers. Trying to use the iPad Pro as a laptop with the Smart Keyboard exposes the seams of an OS that was clearly designed for touchscreen use first.


I don’t think it’s inherently problematic that iOS has no conceptual support for a mouse pointer, and thus can’t work with any sort of trackpad. But, given this constraint, good support for navigating as much of the UI as possible using the keyboard is more important on the iPad than it is on the Mac. But iOS’s support for navigating using the keyboard is worse.


It brings me no joy to observe this, but the future of mass market portable computing involves neither a mouse pointer nor an x86 processor.

Andrew Cunningham:

The A9X can’t quite get up to the level of a modern U-series Core i5 based on Broadwell or Skylake (see the 2015 MacBook Air and Surface Pro 4 results), but it’s roughly on the same level as a Core i5 from 2013 or so and it’s well ahead of Core M. And despite the fact that it lacks a fan, the A9X shows little sign of throttling in the Geekbench thermal test, which bodes well for the iPad Pro’s ability to run professional-caliber apps for extended periods of time.

Daniel Eran Dilger:

When Apple first unveiled iPad Pro, it noted that its custom designed A9X chip would be faster than 80 percent of the PCs that shipped this year. Benchmarks indicate that it’s not just faster than low end generic PCs, but also faster — and less expensive — than Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.


This isn’t quite what we’re used to! With the logic board situated in the center of the iPad, the display cables connect in the very middle of the device, so we can’t even lay the display down while we work.

Federico Viticci:

The feeling of a bigger-than-usual but lighter-than-I-imagined device has stuck with me. Every time I pick up the iPad Pro, I realize that it’s much bigger than the screen I’ve held every day for a year, but also not as heavy as I thought it would be.


After a week of intense usage, various trips in my car, and numerous walks around the house, I’m glad to acknowledge that the iPad Pro is still a portable iPad. I can hold it with two hands when walking around for a few minutes without feeling excessive wrist fatigue, and I can even hold it with one hand (usually my left one) if I want to interact with an app on screen with my right hand. I know that it sounds ridiculous – and I couldn’t believe Apple’s marketing shots either when I first saw them – but holding the iPad Pro with one hand in a corner is possible.


On the Home screen, the iPad Pro keeps the same 5x4 grid (in landscape, excluding the dock) of smaller iPads, only app icons are more spaced out. It’s odd to look at when coming from an iPad Air 2, and I think users should be able to keep more apps on the same page. The Home screen hasn’t been updated to take advantage of the iPad Pro at all, so even folders carry the same four-apps-per-row limitation of the Air 2 (same with the dock).


The Slide Over app picker is the leading example of how scaling some UI elements to the bigger screen isn’t going to cut it. Five months into iOS 9, I believe that the way apps are found and picked in the Slide Over interface is aging badly – you can’t search for a specific app in the tray, and if you realize that you need to re-open an app that you last used a few days ago, you’ll have to scroll all the way back to the top to launch it. This is starting to be problematic on the Air 2, and the issue is exacerbated by the iPad Pro.


The iPad Pro doesn’t use the second-generation Touch ID sensor employed on the iPhone 6s (Apple confirmed this to me) and the device doesn’t have a 3D Touch display.


Two ways to interpret this:

  1. Apple no longer cares
  2. New Springboard design coming in 2016

Federico Viticci:

The Apple Pencil feels great in the hand, it’s taller than I expected it to be (it’s really the size of a pencil), and its performance on screen is phenomenal.


You can pair a Pencil with the iPad Pro simply by removing the cap, plugging its Lightning connector into the device, and accepting the pairing request. The cap itself snaps magnetically onto the Pencil, which is a nice detail, and you can also remove the tip and replace it with a new one if it’s worn down too much. Apple includes a replacement tip in the box, and I’m a fan of the small tip that allows for fine strokes and small handwriting.


I noticed that iOS would have the occasional line accidentally drawn by the back of her hand; I’d say that Apple has managed to achieve a solid 90% palm rejection with the Pencil, which is impressive.


Once paired with an iPad Pro, you’ll be able to use the Pencil to interact with apps normally through taps and swipes. In fact, using the Pencil as a pointer and interactive tip when the iPad is held upright by a stand on a desk is quite nice.


The lack of special function keys makes interacting with the iPad Pro when connected to the Smart Keyboard a bit slower – I need to touch the screen to bring up Control Center for music controls, and I can’t double press a Home button shortcut to enter the app switcher.

However, the Smart Keyboard’s biggest advantage is that it doubles as a cover, it’s light, and it connects to the iPad via the Smart Connector. I can’t overstate how nice it is to not have to worry about Bluetooth pairing requests anymore – or having to recharge a Bluetooth keyboard every few months.

David Pogue:

Unfortunately, the iPad doesn’t have an adjustable kickstand like the Surface’s. Put another way: You can prop the iPad at any angle, as long as it’s 55 degrees.

There’s an upside to that inflexibility, though: The iPad’s keyboard cover is rigid enough to use on your lap.


Finally, Apple focused exclusively on the act of using the Pencil, and put no thought at all into storing it or resting it. There’s no place to carry it on the iPad, or even in the keyboard cover. It doesn’t attach magnetically during your work session, as on the Surface Pro 4. And it doesn’t even have a pocket clip, flat edge, or anything else to stop this perfect cylinder from rolling away from you.

Lauren Goode:

But the Pencil is just plain fun. It is indeed Apple white, and there are Apple-y things about it — for example, the fact that it is weighted, and won’t roll away on a table top, and always stops rolling with the word “Pencil” facing upward on its metal band.


To move the cursor on your iPad screen, place two fingers anywhere on the keyboard until the keyboard turns gray. Then move your fingers to move the cursor around.

Previously: iPad Pro.

Update (2015-11-14): Manton Reece:

I don’t think I’ve ever been less excited to walk out of a store with a brand new $800 gadget. The iPad Pro has so much potential. I think it’s going to be a success and I’m building apps for it. But without the Pencil and keyboard, a significant part of the appeal is missing. And worse, developers who need a Pencil to start testing their apps — especially those apps like the one I’m working on that already supports third-party stylus pressure — are put at a month-long disadvantage compared to Adobe and the other early partners.

Update (2015-11-30): Gordon Mah Ung:

3DMark also runs a physics test, which measures how a platform would run a theoretical game engine. In short, it’s supposed to measure how fast a device’s CPU would be, not its GPU. The result here actually puts the iPad Pro and the A9X at a pretty big disadvantage against all of the x86 chips—yes, even the lowly Atom.

Update (2016-04-20): Kirk McElhearn:

I’ve noticed one annoyance with the iPad Pro however: the display shows smudges much more than previous iPads.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

"[Federico Viticci] […] In fact, using the Pencil as a pointer and interactive tip when the iPad is held upright by a stand on a desk is quite nice."


I also couldn't help noticing that, in review videos, as soon as the iPad Pro was on the keyboard stand, it was like using a MacBook with a touch screen. Again something that is supposedly not humanly possible according to the book of Cupertino.

I tried an iPad Pro at an Apple Store, and every third-party app had horrible stylus latency. Is this problem limited to demo machines? I remember for Macs, Mission Control performance on demo machines was inexplicably <1 fps for several years, so hopefully the problem is something similar. Still, not exactly encouraging when that's the only experience you can get in-store before buying a $1100 device billed as having super-low stylus latency...

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