Thursday, November 8, 2018

iPad Pro 2018

John Gruber:

The iPad Pro is like a computer from an alternate universe. In the normal universe, Moore’s Law has stopped delivering significant year-over-year returns, and high-performance portables need fans to cool them. In the iPad universe, Moore’s Law still delivers year after year, and a super-fast, genuinely “pro” portable needs no fan.


The new Apple Pencil is one of the best “2.0” products I’ve ever seen. The original Apple Pencil is a terrific product, but the new one nears perfection for the concept.


I’ve been using the 12.9-inch model for testing over the last five days. It’s a lot easier and more comfortable to hold. There have been times when I forgot I was using the “big” iPad.


iPad is not really a multi-user device, because unlike MacOS, iOS still doesn’t have any concept of user accounts. But I know that many people use iPads as shared family devices. iOS 12 limits you to two faces with Face ID — your default face and an “alternate appearance”.


The new Smart Keyboard Folio cover is a much better design than the old Smart Keyboard. As promised by Apple, it’s much sturdier and more stable. Apple is really serious about all these magnets. They work. The downside, though, is that it’s thicker on the device, because it covers the front and back. I think this trade-off is worth it.

Nilay Patel (tweet):

The overwhelming message was the iPad is more powerful, more capable, and more the future than any laptop — Apple’s own new MacBook Air included.

But computers are about more than just sales and processor specs: they’re about software. And the one thing Apple didn’t really change on the iPad Pro is iOS 12, which has all of the same capabilities and limitations iPad users have come to expect. Apple wants you to think that the iPad Pro is the future of computing, but if you’ve already used iOS 12 on an iPad Pro, you know exactly how you feel about that idea.


Apple keeps saying the iPad Pro now has an “all screen design” that “goes from edge to edge,” but let’s just be honest: nothing about these bezels is edge-to-edge. It is, however, an extremely nice 264ppi LCD screen, and I continue to be a fan of Apple’s fancy technique to round off the corners of LCDs.


But one extremely important category of devices will definitely not work: iOS does not support external storage. You can plug as many flash drives or hard drives as you want into the iPad Pro’s USB-C port, and nothing will happen. Apple says third parties can write apps to talk to external storage, but out of the box, this $1,899 tablet simply won’t talk to a flash drive.


There isn’t a single other tablet on the market that can compete with the raw hardware of the iPad Pro, and there aren’t many laptops that can either. But Apple’s approach to iOS is holding that hardware back in serious and meaningful ways, and while USB-C makes life with this new iPad Pro slightly easier, it still has the same basic capabilities and limitations of last year’s iPad Pro.

Matthew Panzarino:

One basic summary of the arena is that Microsoft has been working at making laptops into tablets, Apple has been working on making tablets into laptops and everyone else has been doing weird-ass shit.


Apple needs to unleash itself from the shackles of a unified iOS. They don’t have to feel exactly the same now, because the user base is not an infantile one. They’ve been weaned on it — now give them solid food.

Jeffrey Van Camp:

As a more traditional work PC, it sometimes struggles. In a pinch, the iPad Pro and its Smart Keyboard are usable. For example, I wrote this review on the Pro in Google Docs while also opening webpages on the right side of my screen, but it took me longer than normal to do research and collect links—and a good long while to figure out how to do other tasks. I wanted to use the normal web version of Docs, but I had to use the app. My office also uses a collaboration tool called Airtable that wouldn’t work in an iPad browser. It also tossed me to the app, which lacked key features. Attaching specific files was kind of a nightmare in the Gmail app, too. Some apps, like Spotify, don’t allow Split View multitasking (side-by-side viewing) at all yet. You have to use them full screen. Spreadsheets are also tougher (slower) to manipulate in the apps I’ve used.

I found solutions to all of these problems, and I’m sure I can keep finding creative solutions to make the iPad Pro work as a PC, but the hassles will keep coming. The iPad’s web browsers are still treated more like their less-capable smartphone counterparts, and the apps that are supposed to work in their place also sometimes lack desktop features. Part of this is the fault of developers, but Apple bears responsibility, as well.

It doesn’t feel like the world is ready to treat my iPad as an equal to a PC yet—even if that iPad is a lot more powerful and user friendly. Now that Apple has declared the iPad is a PC, it should take more of the guardrails off of iOS and strongly encourage developers to treat it like they do the Mac.

Matt Lee:

Brand new 12.9” iPad Pro. Faster than MacBooks and MacBook Pros. More powerful than 80% of notebooks. BUT, can’t access @AppleEDU’s own Apple School Manager website. #NeedRealSafari #PrettyPlease

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Just to make the iMac Pro people miserable: if you look at Geekbench’s LLVM component, the iPad Pro’s A12X handily outperforms the iMac Pro’s Xeon at compiling…

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Putting USB-C on the iPad has confused a lot of the tech press; TL;DR the capabilities are the same as the Lightning USB adapter, just with added 4K support. MFi is still a thing, app developers can’t write apps or drivers for USB devices, etc. Nothing, as yet, has changed

I remain unconvinced that the new iPad Pro actually drives a 5K display at 5K. There hasn’t been a straight answer from Apple on this yet, but I believe it’s 4K60 as the specs page suggests (upscaled to fill 5K by display). I’d love to be wrong & look forward to definitive answer

Marques Brownlee:

Been using this new iPad Pro for a couple days now and the review is coming soon. But bottom line - It’s ridiculously powerful to the point where it almost doesn’t matter because iOS is still iOS.

Best iPad by far. Still an iPad.

Colin Cornaby:

Hi going to repeat again that I still think an ARM version of macOS that has changes for touch should be what the iPad runs

Bob Burrough:

If you try to jam keyboard and mouse into iPad, just so you can say it replaced your computer, iPad is no longer designed for a specific scenario. It can be used in all scenarios...none of them considered. That’s not design. That’s anti-design.

Mark Gurman:

2015: “iPad Pro review: Big and powerful, but it won’t replace your laptop”
2016: “iPad Pro 9.7 review: Apple’s best tablet, but it won’t replace a laptop”
2017: “iOS 11 on an iPad Pro still won’t replace your laptop”
2018: “Nope, Apple’s new iPad Pro still isn’t a laptop”

Ben Bajarin:

It definitely isn’t a truck. But it is a car.

This is always the rub with more tech reviewers profiles in that they are people who need a truck, reviewing a car, with truck use cases in mind.

And probably never will.

What do you think about the idea that PC/Mac innovation has peaked but iOS/iPad still has room to grow up?

It only looks like it peaked out because Apple hasn’t been focusing on the Mac for the last 10 years or so.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It was way easier to excuse the missing basics before iPads cost $2000 and had power outstripping the MBP. Even in iPad Pro’s own market segment, it’s the only product missing all of these things, like external storage support, desktop-class browsing, mouse input, etc

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I keep wanting to love the iPad for everything-but-programming, but even for RAW-based photography, the software still just isn’t there. So much performance, so little workflow.

Raymond Wong:

How fast is the new iPad Pro at exporting 3-min 4K vid to 1080p in Adobe Rush CC?

- 56% faster than 2017 iPad Pro
- 711% faster than iPad Air 2
- 115% faster than iPhone X
- 35% faster than iPhone XS
- 124% faster than 2015 MacBook
- 804% faster than 2017 Surface Pro

Steven Sinofsky:

I’m fascinated by the technical “class” obsession w/ iPads replacing laptops.

This review of GUI and mouse is what I think some of the review of the iPad will look like in 20 years. Sure I could be wrong.

I have no illusion of convincing anyone but some thoughts…

Walt Mossberg:

The most important word in your thread is “scenario”. I ordered a new MacBook Air because I still need or prefer a Mac for some scenarios. But my most used, and favorite, computers, are my iPads (a Pro and a mini) and my iPhone X.

Jason Snell:

The iPad Pro is a Rorschach test, or if you prefer, a mirror. People see what they want to see

Patrick Moorhead:

With all the iPad defenders coming out of the woodwork, it’s evident to me that some sense of a panic button has been pushed. Because I have many people SiliconValley‘splaining to me how the PC is the new mainframe. Fact is, the PC has adopted most characteristics of the tablet.

Nilay Patel:

As one of the few people outside of Adobe that has used Photoshop for iPad, I think it will make for a great mobile complement to a desktop, but not much more. We have a full dive here:

Gabe Weatherhead:

As excited as I am to get my new iPad Pro with a USB-C connection, it doesn’t feel like Apple is putting a lot of wood behind this arrow. These are iterative improvements because any major changes require major changes to iOS and the entire interaction model behind app and window management.

For a certain percentage of iPad users the device is feature complete.

Marco Arment:

Figured it out.

The LG UltraFine 5K does NOT work with the iPad Pro. It only accepts Thunderbolt input, but the iPad Pro outputs 5K over USB-C as DisplayPort, not Thunderbolt.

A 5K display that supports DisplayPort input should work, but I don’t have one to test.

Samuel Axon:

Ars sat down with Anand Shimpi from Hardware Technologies at Apple and Apple’s Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller to ask. We wanted to hear exactly what Apple is trying to accomplish by making its own chips and how the A12X is architected. It turns out that the iPad Pro’s striking, console-level graphics performance and many of the other headlining features in new Apple devices (like FaceID and various augmented-reality applications) may not be possible any other way.

Federico Viticci:

Fun in USB-C land with the new iPad Pro and an UltraFine 4K display:

The USB-C cable that comes in the box with the iPad Pro cannot mirror the iPad to the external display. It just charges it.

The USB-C cable that comes with the UltraFine supports 4K60 mirroring.

Benjamin Mayo:

To add onto the mess, if you walk into an Apple Store and want to buy an Apple cable that actually works with displays, you need to buy the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cable — even though the iPad doesn’t use the Thunderbolt 3 part.

Jacky Haruhiko:

Nobody understands the difference between a USB-C charge only cable which only supports USB 2.0 but not 3.1 speed, and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB-C data cable that supports 10Gbps data transfer which requires a separate purchase. And then the Thunderbolt e cable which looks the same.

Michael Love:

Your app is going to look bad if it’s not optimized for this 11" screen, so optimize it. Also, given the generally tepid state of the iPad software market I expect a lot of iPad apps will never be updated, so bear that in mind when evaluating cost/benefit vs 2017 model.

Keith Harrison:

There’s no notch to worry about but there are rounded corners, and the home button is gone, replaced with Face ID and a bottom home screen indicator. There’s also a new Apple pencil gesture. Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know to support the new models.

Nilay Patel:

Gosh where did all these reviewers get the idea that the iPad Pro should be compared to regular computers

James Rogers:

Why does the iPad Pro have to be a laptop replacement? I know that Apple flirts with this messaging, but that alone doesn’t define the device. They also spend time downplaying this concept, as well when it doesn’t suit them. I also look back to Steve Jobs’ original framing of the device as a purpose-built machine that was perfectly suited to particular tasks.

Marco Arment reports that the new iPad Pro’s screen has the same oleophobic coating as other recent models, i.e. it has the increased propensity to collect to fingerprints.

See also: Apple, MacRumors, MacStories.

Previously: October 2018 Apple Event.

Update (2018-11-12): Jason Snell:

That brings us to the new iPad Pro, with 102 magnets spread all around. On the new iPad, Apple’s using magnets in four primary ways: As a way to firmly attach accessories to the device’s back, as an Apple Pencil attachment, to attach the Smart Connector, and to attach a screen cover while locking or unlocking the device.

Nilay Patel:

It’s true that the iPad Pro has enough magnets in it to stick to a fridge. But did you know it will also make you look super silly trying to pull it off a metal table?

Matt Birchler:

Same deal with Apple’s other iCloud web apps. “Use the native apps” you might say, but things like Apple News Publisher don’t have apps. Even if you request the desktop site, it only sorta works.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

How did Apple find itself in a situation where it has three different kinds of incompatible Apple Pencil pairing technology?

Marco Arment:

Can confirm, the new Pencil doesn’t include an extra tip like the first one did.

Whatever their reasons, this feels needlessly stingy.

Alexis Gallagher:

Can anyone with a new Apple Pencil tell me if it’s any more accurate than the old one?

I keep hoping and hoping that one day $1,000+ of cutting edge technology will become a viable substitute for a $3 paper notebook. Is it now?

John Siracusa concurs.

Craig Mod:

The problems begin when you need multiple contexts. For example, you can’t open two documents in the same program side-by-side, allowing you to reference one set of edits, while applying them to a new document.


Switching contexts is also cumbersome. If you’re researching in a browser and frequently jumping back and forth between, say, (the actually quite wonderful) and Safari, you’ll sometimes find your cursor position lost. The document you were just editing fully occasionally resetting to the top of itself. For a long document, this is infuriating and makes every CMD-TAB feel dangerous. It doesn’t always happen, the behavior is unpredictable, making things worse. This interface “brittleness” makes you feel like you’re using an OS in the wrong way.


Even so, once your photos are finally imported, you find that programs like Lightroom CC on iOS are hamstrung in baffling ways. When editing in Lightroom CC on the desktop I make half a dozen virtual copies of good images to quickly compare different crops or edits. On iOS, the ability to make a copy of an image is inexplicably, infuriatingly, not present. You get one copy of each image per album, no more.

Federico Viticci:

Speaking of thumbs: whatever Apple has done to improve thumb detection along the edges of the screen, it’s working really well for me. I was concerned that, with these extremely narrow bezels, the new iPad Pro would pick up accidental taps more often than the old one when holding it in portrait, but this hasn’t been the case for me so far. In fact, if I start holding the iPad from one of the edges with my thumb, I can hold the device by touching both the bezel and the screen and iOS will not register it as a tap or scroll action.

Matthew Panzarino:

So I’ve been on the iPad Pro this work trip to Brazil and it’s great - almost there - but simple things still require gymnastics to pull off.

David Barnard:

Sure, the iPad isn’t a laptop replacement… yet. But if you’re in a pinch and need macOS to accomplish a specific task, using @ScreensVNC on your iPad Pro with your iPhone as a mouse is surprisingly great.

Drew McCormack:

The iPad will never be the primary productivity tool for most people. It’s not about the software either — it’s about the physical interaction. It may not be a popular opinion, but a mouse or trackpad is much less taxing, allowing much more control, with much less effort.

[The case is] fine for typing, but in that config, it’s just a laptop. And I dread having to lift my arms to move the cursor or swap apps. It’s a physical thing.

Frank Reiff:

I think Apple is pursuing a pipe dream with the iPad “Pro”: a device as powerful as a Mac but as simple as the iPhone. A workhorse OS needs more powerful abstractions such as file systems, file types, interprocess communication, etc.

The fallacy is to believe that you can wield the power of say a file system without understanding its abstraction. It’s the deliberate use of the abstraction that unlocks its power. Having to make an effort to learn the abstraction, while inconvenient, is necessary.

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

I first read about the wobbly screen in the Smart Keyboard Folio in Will’s post and layer saw that Marco Arment mentioned it in his video review. Do watch the whole thing — it comes at the iPad from a different and interesting perspective.

See also: Adam Jackson’s unboxing photos, The Talk Show, iFixit, Marco Arment.

Update (2018-11-16): Upgrade:

After a week with the new iPad Pro, it’s time for our in-depth review of what we like and don’t like about Apple’s latest tablet hardware. Which size is the best? Why does Jason want to cover his Smart Keyboard Folio with stickers? Does the new Apple Pencil pass Myke’s tests? And why is Jason so angry about Apple’s pro apps?

Jason Snell:

I got kind of fired up at the end of Upgrade today when I considered that Apple’s now selling two high-end, high-powered iPad Pros and yet won’t release their pro video and audio editing apps on the platform, just their simplified subsets.

It’s hugely frustrating & the source of lots of the review pushback - these powerful portable machines with such huge potential and yet still so much pro software not on or available to iOS. Would kill for Logic or a basic level Pro Tools on iOS.

The real shame is, this was all within Apple’s hands - it is a failure, either of imagination or of their OS and app development groups. Apple’s own apps should be leading the charge. Instead, they’re nowhere to be seen.

Jason Snell:

The iPad Pro is not meant to be a toy or a curiosity or an alternate device. It is just as serious a device as a computer, Apple suggests, and if that’s true we should judge it accordingly.

But just because the iPad Pro needs to be taken as seriously as a computer doesn’t mean it should be judged as a PC. The iPad is not a computer, not as the term’s been defined for the past 40 years. It’s something new and different, and it excels in some ways that PCs don’t while also struggling to do some things that PCs do well.

Dan Masters:

I feel there has been a lack of nuance in the ensuing debate; thus, I will analyse the six most common arguments I have encountered.


iPad proponents have understandably confused any critique of the iPad Pro and its OS with the common refrain from years ago: “You can’t use an iPad for real work” — after all, iPads could obviously be used for real work, even prior to the Pro! The mantra was largely unjustified and rightly mocked. However, not all criticisms are created equally, and to dismiss scepticism simply because it seems similar to previous incorrect views, or because it doesn’t align with one’s own experiences is shortsighted.

You may argue that ultimately my quibble is with the iPad Pro’s price, but that its superior specs compared to similarly-priced laptops means it is justified. However, Chromebooks with impressive specs (and prices to match) have not been widely adopted. Why? The software simply doesn’t justify it!

Apple fans have always said specs don’t matter; only user experience does. The iPad Pro is no different[…]

Joe Cieplinski:

iPad has been my favorite Apple device for a long time now. This new edition only strengthens my feeling. I am newly inspired to write apps for this machine. I want to use it more than I already do. It doesn’t have to replace my laptop. It needs to expand my current concept of how and where I use computing devices. And that’s been steadily happening since the first iPad was released in 2010.

Paulo Andrade:

As a developer, I can no longer avoid the iPad. I have to start using it on a day to day basis. It may very well be the future of personal computing.

Update (2018-11-19): Juli Clover:

Alongside the new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, Apple introduced a second-generation Apple Pencil, which is designed to work exclusively with its latest tablets.

In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at the new Apple Pencil 2 and compared it to the original Apple Pencil to highlight all of the improvements that Apple made with the second iteration of its iPad stylus.

Juli Clover:

Apple’s new 11 and 12.9-inch models are its thinnest yet, measuring in at just 5.9mm, and both forum complaints and a new bend test video suggest the two devices have the potential to bend without a huge amount of force.

Marco Arment:

“Flaws” that matter about the iPad Pro:

- The Face ID sensors are in a bad spot that your left hand often covers when holding in landscape

- The Keyboard Folio is a bit clumsy

- Everything’s more expensive than before

“Flaws” that don’t matter:

- It is possible to bend it

John Gruber:

But, I will object to one thing: the iPad feels like a young platform, yes, but it’s not young. It’s over 8 years old. Steve Jobs was still around to introduce it. When the Mac was 8 years old in 1992, System 7 had been launched and it was a very advanced platform, suitable for work of any kind. The new iPad Pro hardware might be the best consumer computer hardware ever made — the only rivals are the iPhone XS and XR. But software-wise, the iPad platform is nowhere near as far along after 8 years as the Mac was a generation ago. The iPhone is. But the iPad is not, and I don’t see how anyone can deny that.

Juli Clover:

Apple today shared a new short video focused on the recently released 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, listing five reasons why the tablets can be your next computer.

Update (2018-11-21): Bob Burrough:

The “What’s a computer?” ad is yet another Apple marketing failure, but the real problem is much more fundamental. These products are supposed to be so designed as to market themselves. Apple is trying to force iPad into use-cases where it is not the best tool for the job.

If Apple wants to build a mobile productivity platform, they should start with a blank sheet of paper and figure out what a product needs to have to do exactly that, and do it better than all alternatives. If they did that, it would sell itself.

Nick Lockwood:

Sigh... another day, another timeline full of iPad fans trying to get their story straight about whether Apple is taking its time to adapt iOS for pro users, or whether it already did but pros are just too dumb to know all the obscure features and gestures that make it usable.


Did pros really want Photoshop on the iPad, or did they actually want a Mac tablet they could draw on? Apple never offered that option, so sales of iPad Pro and Photoshop for iOS may be misleading.

Federico Viticci:

The beauty of computers is that they won’t judge you.

Use whatever computer you prefer. Use a terminal, a Mac, a PC, a phone, an iPad, a Chromebook. It doesn’t matter. The work you do matters.

Never let anyone tell you that the way you create something is wrong. Just do it.

Update (2018-12-03): Jason Snell:

With apologies to FiveThirtyEight, I also whipped up this scatter chart, showing current models, charting their benchmark scores against their prices.

The real thing to measure in this chart is height above the trend line. And by that measure, the 2018 iPad Pro is way ahead. Meanwhile, the Touch Bar MacBook Pro models all retain a fairly consistent height above the trend line. (And the less said about the 12-inch MacBook, the better.)

Update (2018-12-04): Jordan Merrick:

The fact that the iCloud website doesn’t work properly on an iPad—and hasn’t for years—is beyond frustrating. How can Apple expect others to take the iPad seriously if their own web pages don’t work correctly?

Update (2018-12-19): Becky Hansmeyer:

And then there’s this: to really thrive, the iPad needs a richer ecosystem of pro applications. Besides filling the obvious holes in its software line-up like Logic and Final Cut Pro (also Aperture 4ever ❤️), Apple needs to offer developers more capable APIs and continue to improve its App Store guidelines and practices.

For example: improve the revenue split, aggressively purge scammy apps from the store, stop nitpicking every little thing from developers with a good track record (alternatively, make the guidelines more clear), continue to explore new business models, and make it a helluva lot easier for developers to implement subscriptions. To an outsider like me, this doesn’t seem like rocket science. Perhaps it’s just poor organization, or utter cluelessness, or maybe it’s a stubborn unwillingness to even acknowledge (let alone address) these issues because it might negatively affect the bottom line. Whatever the case, it’s holding iOS back.

I long for a day when iPad reviews aren’t by necessity reviews of iOS. A day when we’re just bickering over specs, colors, ports, and keyboard layouts. Some say we’ll never see such a day while Tim Cook is at the helm. I prefer to remain optimistic. 2019 will be the year, I just know it. 2019, y’all. You’ll see.

Update (2019-04-08): peterfromsarasota (via Damien Petrilli):

Has anyone else found that leaving their Apple Pencil 2 attached to their iPad Pro 11 overnight drains the battery anywhere from 15%-25%. I did a test of leaving the pencil attached over night and saw a 17% loss in the iPad battery. The pencil was fully charged when I left it connected overnight. So it really had nothing to charge on the pencil. Then I charged the iPad to 100% and left overnight without the pencil attached and the next morning the iPad battery was still at 100%.

Seems like the Apple Pencil 2 is constantly drawing power from the iPad Battery.

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[…] too bad that you can’t get coverage for longer. The new iPhones and, in particular, the new iPad Pro, should be able to last a lot longer than two years. AppleCare for Macs provides three years of […]

[…] iPad Pro 2018, How to Game the App Store, Hasta La Vista, Visual […]

Bad Uncle Leo

I feel comfortable saying this as it’s been the experience with every iPad I’ve ever owned including the pro ones: The iPad won’t be anything other than a surrogate screen reader for my laptop or desktop.

All of my work clothes that I used to do on a page 2 monitor I now do on an iPad. 90% of my workflows on the iPad are reading books and comics, the other work clothes I do concern remolding into a machine using TeamViewer or chrome remote desktop.

Siri shortcuts are of questionable use unless I’m firing a remote script on one of my server machines. I really want Apple to remove the artificial limitations including the political ones in the App Store. Maybe if they do that the iPad can become useful but I really don’t see casual users using an iPad for anything more than a glorified Kindle.

Bad Uncle Leo

Footnote: case in point, Apple’s dictation. My above post was almost entirely dictated, I corrected typos and missed a few, and the product is the above.

How does Apple expect tablets to become useful if they can’t parse basic English via “machine learning”. (Japanese and German are ”better” believe it or not)

[…] iPad Pro 2018, Using an iPad as a Mac mini Display, Proof That iOS Still Hasn’t Gotten Undo […]

[…] iPad Pro 2018, The Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keypad Is Apparently Bendy, iPhone 6 Bendgate and Touch Disease, […]

[…] It’s good to see the iPad mini updated after all these years. The new models look good, although I was hoping to see a lower end model with a reduced price. The $310 A10-based iPad, though a better tablet, is still more than double the price of comparably sized Android tablets. And, I’m sure it would confuse things, but I personally would want one without pencil support because I know I won’t use it, and so I would prefer the more oleophobic screen. […]

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