Apple has a vision

Five innovations for Apple's iPad Pro vision

Michael Simon

Skepticism was allowed, especially with regard to the trackpad, but Apple's solution presented yesterday is appealing. And not just that.

EnlargeThe floor is lava - the iPad Pro uses lidar

If there was any doubt that Apple had planned a special event for this month, they will be refuted with the announcement of the new iPad Pro on Wednesday at the latest. With a slew of new features and improvements, the new iPad Pro is more than just the usual update. It takes a whole new course for the iPad and draws a clear line between the consumer and professional iPad.

The new iPad Pro offers all of the "pro" functions of the previous model - USB-C, second generation Apple Pencil support, ProMotion display, Face ID - but it is also packed with a number of next-generation functions that it does Take it to a whole new level and bring it closer and closer to the hybrid device we've always wanted.

Focus is on the graphics

Apple always put an upgraded version of its newest processor in the iPad, but the A12Z Bionic is a whole new beast. Not only does it have a new last name (Z instead of X), it is also the first Apple processor with eight cores, with twice as many GPU cores as the A13. By taking a technically slower processor in the A12 and focusing on the graphics, Apple uses its technology where it matters.

Speed ​​is nice, but the iPad Pro with the A10 Fusion chip was really fast. By focusing on the graphics, the new iPad Pro should be able to do more than just deliver on Apple's promise of "strong performance for things like 4K video editing, 3D design, and augmented reality" while making the entire experience much faster. Apple has also tweaked the chip's thermal architecture to get higher peak power and longer continuous power, so the chip should rock.

Magic in the keyboard

Let's face it: Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio for the iPad Pro has always been mediocre. It did what it was supposed to do - it added a keyboard to the iPad when it was on a desk - but with only two viewing angles, non-backlit keys, and a clamshell design that gave the slim tablet a lot of bulk, it was not exactly revolutionary.

EnlargeApple says the "floating" design of the new Magic Keyboard makes the new iPad work better in one round.

But the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is exactly that. It offers backlit keys with the same stroke of 1 mm and a scissor mechanism as the Macbook Pro, an integrated USB-C port for charging, "smooth angle adjustment" of up to 130 degrees and an embossed Apple logo on the back. But the coolest part might be the new "floating design" that puts weight into the keyboard and makes the screen float to (hopefully) make it more convenient to use like a laptop.

The only problem is the price: 329 euros for the 11-inch version and 399 euros for the 12.9-inch version. These prices are close to the entry-level iPad, but if it's as "magical" as Apple says, the new iPad Pro could be Apple's first true 2-in-1 device.

The cursor is not an experience disaster

I admit I was skeptical when I heard rumors a few weeks ago that Apple was planning trackpad support for the iPad. But now that I've seen it in action, I'm a little more receptive to ideas. Apple didn't just plant a trackpad on the iPad and declare the matter over. With iPadOS 13.4, Apple has brought "a more natural typing experience and more precision to tasks like writing and selecting text, working with spreadsheets, and professional workflows." The result is a smart cursor that only appears when you need it and that adapts to what you're doing.

From Apple's videos and explanations, we can see several states for the cursor: a small circle when it is between objects, a selection tool when hovering over text, and a highlighter when it is on a button or application icon . We'll have to try it out to see how it works, but Apple makes it seem very fluid and smart.

EnlargeThe cursor on the new iPad (here outlined in yellow) changes dynamically to the mode you need.

Perhaps more important than the cursor are the new "intuitive trackpad gestures" built into iPadOS. Instead of reaching up to tap the screen, trackpad gestures can control things like the app switcher, dock, control center, and slide over just like on a Mac. There are also new trackpad APIs that allow developers to go further and add "unique experiences" with their apps, which could mean huge changes to apps like Photoshop and Pixelmator. So we could only scratch the surface of what tablet applications can really do.

Cameras with cool laser beams

The new iPad Pro may have twice as many cameras as any other iPad that previously featured a new 10 MP ultra-wide-angle lens, but that's hardly the most interesting part of the new square array. Rather, it's the round sensor directly to the right of the new lenses. That would be the new LiDAR scanner (Light Detection and Ranging), which is responsible for more precise AR applications.

According to Apple, the scanner "measures the distance to surrounding objects at a distance of up to 5 meters, works both indoors and outdoors, and works at the photon level at nanosecond speeds," meaning AR objects are placed instantly, a Get improved motion detection and faster measurements. That turns the iPad Pro from a good AR device into a great device.

Sound recordings like in a professional studio

The iPad Pro may have lost its headphone jack with the 2018 redesign, but Apple is still focused on the audio issue. The new iPad Pro has the same five microphones as the previous model, but they are "studio quality" for precise recordings without the need for additional equipment. Improved sound recording is a huge boom for podcasters and sound engineers, bringing the iPad Pro to a whole new audience.

EnlargeThe new iPad Pro gives the sound recording with new microphones in "studio quality" a boost.

Apple has also highlighted the upcoming release of DoubleTake by Filmic for the iPad Pro, which will allow you to capture 4K video at 60 frames per second and mix it with high quality audio right on your iPad. And more pro-level apps will certainly follow. This could allow audio and video professionals to leave their Mac at home and perhaps even pave the way for Final Cur Pro or Logic Pro on the iPad.