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How Productive is the iPad Pro?

Posted on 12 Nov 2015 Written by Michael Wass

We picked up a 32 GB iPad Pro for testing purposes. It wasn’t long before we decided we had to voice an opinion on the device itself. Perfect blog fodder, no?

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So we set ourselves a challenge: let’s see how we get on writing the blog post about the iPad Pro on an iPad Pro. With the limitations and successes exposed, warts and all.

Why should the enterprise be excited?

The Pro follows the iPad mini and iPhone + in marking a distinct turning point, a step away from the original vision of tablet computing and the best dimensions for a mobile device. The people demanded a bigger iPad, they demanded a stylus and they insisted upon power.

The extra screen real-estate is the most prominent feature of the Pro. It turbo-charges the usefulness of flagship features such a the various multi-tasking enhancements of iOS 9, providing enough space for 2 apps or web Windows to sit side by side. The screen itself is sharp and vibrant, sits very close to the glass and attracts finger prints like they’re going out of fashion.

Multi-tasking

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iOS 9 shipped with multi-tasking capabilities for devices with large enough screens and fast enough chips to handle them. The iPad Pro is probably the first effective implementation, but right now this is mostly limited to Apple’s default apps. The newest iOS also brought a big improvement to notes, and it’s likely that they had the Pro specifically in mind.

Slide View

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Pull in from the right hand side and you can see a snippet of an app or window next to the one that you’re working in. Within notes you can handwrite information, reminders or doodle. We expect that many iPad Pros will spend their lives in meeting rooms, so expect doodling to become a centrepiece of the mobile experience.

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Users can change the multi-tasking app by dragging down from the top right of the screen.

Split-screen

Dragging the slide view bar further to the left will snap apps into a split-screen view. The split is dominated by whichever app is on the left and the ‘supporting’ app won’t stretch further than halfway.

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The  Pencil

Setting up the pencil was more awkward than expected. Out of the box, you need to connect it to the iPad by the Lightning port. The iPad will ask if you’d like to pair, but once you do you need to twist the nib of the pencil slightly before it begins to register on the screen. The information inside the box didn’t make this clear at all, which is unusual for Apple.

The pencil itself is nice to hold, feeling about the right weight and size. It has a good range of sensitivity, and generally speaking resting your palm on the iPad while you write or draw isn’t particularly problematic (although not always).

Not being a fan of stylus interfaces, it is surprising how useful the pencil is in terms of pure navigation. The absence of 3D Touch makes the necessity of an accurate pointing device more palpable, but even the cack-handed amongst us will be shocked at how precise the pencil is in terms of dropping in a cursor at the right spot. Gone are days of dragging it around under the microscope.

Verdict

Writing this up on the device itself inside Safari was an unscientific test to work out whether the iPad Pro can handle productivity better than it’s smaller siblings. A fully functional, Pro-friendly WordPress app may have made this much easier, but in truth the process probably was easier than I thought it might be. Getting used to an expanded onscreen keyboard, navigating an editing suite not designed for touch and figuring out when the pencil is better than the digit were the most prominent teething pains.

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There is a lot of buzz around the Pro, and as someone who was sceptical at first I have to say I’m won over. If not because of the immediate awkward adjustment period, but in optimism that good enterprise apps that fully embrace the new features are right around the corner. The pencil in particular is a highlight, although it won’t be long before someone loses it.

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