iPad Pro

The dawn of the MacPad?

Apple PencilIs the new 12.9″ iPad Pro, with its Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, the evolution of the iPad that will make MacBooks redundant? From a screen size perspective the iPad Pro has 0.9″ on the latest reiteration of the 12″ MacBook.

This means the iPad Pro offers enough screen real estate to make it a serious contender for both work and play.

Although, the recently released 12″ MacBook is a marvellous combination of function and design, and will put up a good fight.

Apple added a long overdue split-screen and multitasking support to the iPad Pro to resolve one of the biggest complaints about the iPad, and to close a competitive gap with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. This function, combined with the new screen size, goes towards making the iPad Pro a viable MacBook replacement.

The new Smart Connector, a magnetic interface which provides a direct physical connection for the Smart Keyboard to the iPad Pro, without the need for pairing, is a genius touch, although the keyboard works only in landscape orientation.

The iPad Pro will compete against Microsoft’s 12″ Surface Pro 3. Microsoft calls the Surface Pro 3 the ‘tablet that can replace your laptop.’

Can we say the same about the iPad Pro?

Apple’s iOS is gradually becoming the main operating system for Apple, with a large proportion of its device ecosystem built around it. Apple’s OS X desktop operating system itself has been morphing over the last couple of year to look and feel more like iOS.

Apple made a conscious decision not to give the iPad Pro its OS X operating system, unlike Microsoft’s 12″ Surface Pro 3 which runs Windows 10 and all the familiar Microsoft programs.

While iOS is an excellent operating system, and iOS 9 will take it to the next level, it is still a ‘pared-down’ mobile operating system which cannot run a lot of applications and lacking some functionalities. The App Store, with its extensive offerings, does go a long way to address this issue. The iCloud Drive introduced by iOS 9 will also address one of the most nagging absences from Apple’s mobile devices, making files stored in all iCloud folders accessible across devices independently of specific Apps, such as Photos and Pages.

Unlike Apple’s iPads the Surface Pro 3 also features a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a Mini Display Port. The lack of ports has been a long-discussed issue when it comes to Apple devices. Personally I feel it’s an overblown issue in today’s cloud environment. I have been operating very happily with my new 2015 MacBook and its sole USB-C port option, and the lack of multiple ports is yet to be a problem. Come to think of it, after four moths of heavy use, I’m yet to use the port …

Tim Cook is also bravely making his own way at the helm of Apple as evidenced by the introduction of a … stylus – I mean the Apple Pencil. The Pencil is reminiscent of Apple’s white plastic phase from about a decade ago, and appears to be somewhat disconnected from their current design aesthetics.

Who wants a stylus? You have to get em’, put em’ away. You lose them. Yuck.
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the 2007 iPhone launch

The Pencil is more than a stylus – it is the usual functional masterpiece you would expect from Apple, yet it has some serious practical shortcomings.

First, neither the iPad Pro, nor the Smart Keyboard, has built-in storage for the Pencil. My current stylus, Pencil by 53, has a nice square design and a magnet which makes it snuggly stick to the device or the smart cover, so it’s always handy and practically impossible to lose.

The Apple Pencil has a magnetic cap, but it remains to be seen whether that cap will make it attachable to the device or the cover. It’s also a round design and can roll away in a flash.

I know! Real pencils are often round and they roll – but they don’t cost $99 if they roll away from you and you lose them. Oh yes, and it only works with the iPad Pro, it won’t work with your iPad Air or Air 2. On the other hand, my Pencil by 53 works with all iPads.

I suspect, like with all previous Apple products, the next reiteration of the Pencil will have many improvements.

You should also keep in mind that at 723 grams, for the model with Wi-Fi and mobile, the iPad Pro is not a ‘read in bed’ model. It is only slightly lighter than the very first iPad released in 2010, which weighed in at 730 grams, and significantly heavier than the iPad Air 2, which comes in at 444 grams.

On its own, it is lighter than the 12″ MacBook which is 920 grams. There has been no mention of the weight of the Smart Keyboard Cover, but I would guess somewhere around 200 grams. That would bring the iPad Pro together with the Smart Keyboard up to the same weight as the 12″ MacBook.

The introduction of the iPad Pro does raise a number of questions.

Will MacBooks live on, or will they be swept away by more sophisticated iPads? Will MacBooks and iPads eventually merge to become the ‘MacPad’?

If so, will we see an iPad with the full OS X operating system, or will iOS evolve to become an operating system on par with OS X and Windows, to offer the same practical capabilities?

On the reading of the market, particularly consumer behaviour trends, my current bet would be on the supremacy of the iPad and the evolution of iOS, at the expense of the MacBook.

My love for my iPad is well known. I’m currently using the iPad Air 2, supplemented with a 12″ MacBook.

Will I upgrade to the iPadPro? Most likely, but not immediately.

I use four devices. An iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook, and, at the office, an HP desktop running on Windows. I believe there is the right tool for each task and I switch between these devices as necessary, for maximum efficiency and productivity.

I don’t see a need for a fifth device, therefore an iPad Pro would have to be a sensible and practical replacement for one of my four key devices.

My iPad Air 2 is a mobile, light, efficient and productive workhorse, and I use my brand new MacBook for the more complex professional tasks that are not conveniently completed on the iPad.

Perhaps such tasks will be able to be performed on the new iPad Pro. If so, once the MacBook is ready to be retired I may replace it with the iPad Pro.

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