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Jen Hennings
Jen Hennings

Akendi Alumnus

The iPad Pro – A very confused Device

So being a bit of an (massive) Apple fan-girl, I was unbelievably excited when the new iPad Pro arrived in our office at the end of last week. There’s something about that simple white box and imagery that just calls to you and tells you that greatness lies within.

I was a bit late when it came to the party with the iPad, my first one being the iPad mini, which absolutely blew me away. For me it is the perfect size for a tablet. It fits easily into my bag, is big enough to watch movies and TV shows, but also small enough for me to comfortably use it while travelling and even one-handed.

That’s what a tablet should be. It’s the portability and ease of use of a smart phone but with that extra screen space to make apps more fully fledged and increase the viewing pleasure when consuming digital media.

This is where it all falls apart for the iPad Pro. It’s not a tablet, but it still has’ the same operating system and aspirations of a tablet. Maybe I’m wrong in saying that it’s not a tablet, not an iPad specifically, in the way we have come to understand and interact with our iPads to this date.

Let’s just think about this quote from Steve Jobs for a second, and then maybe you’ll see why I think this iPad Pro is a step in the wrong direction.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

It’s too Big.

Yes the screen is amazing, and yes watching movies on this iPad Pro would be an absolute dream, but on its own, without a stand, it’s completely impractical. Its size means that it is too heavy to be comfortably held for long periods.

You can’t Use it as a Purely Touch-Driven Device.

To get the most out of your iPad Pro, you’re going to need the Stylus and keyboard accessories to go with it, and those aren’t available yet here in the UK. I’ve tried to use this iPad Pro as a touch device, holding it with one hand and tapping with the other, I’ve tried typing the same way I type with my iPad mini and I can’t reach the keys in the centre of the keyboard when I’m in landscape mode. And why oh why have you made the number keys smaller?

It’s Got the Wrong Operating System on it.

If this iPad Pro came with a slightly scaled back version of OS X on it, I would be utterly in love with it. I would buy a keyboard and the stylus and I’d probably never use my MacBook Pro ever again. To me that is what this device is screaming for. Clearly Apple is aiming this as the competition to the latest versions of the Microsoft Surface, but where the surface has it beat is that it doesn’t pretend to be a pure tablet experience. The Surface is a touch screen laptop that can be used without the keyboard. You’re hardly lacking with screen space in the iPad Pro. Let me run Creative Suite on it and give me Desktop level applications and I’m sold.

The Apps Make it Worse

So, as well as being a bit of an Apple addict, I am like most of my generation, a Facebook addict. So the first thing I downloaded to the iPad Pro was of course, the Facebook app. Maybe finally I’d be able to administer all those groups that I am an admin to properly. Maybe I’d be able to have chat windows open whilst I’m browsing my timeline to see who else has commented on the Ronda Rousey fight (yes I’m heartbroken). But no, until the existing apps are optimized to take full advantage of this device, I’m still left with a stretched out version of the original apps, which just lessens the experience.

What’s the Use Case for the iPad Pro?

The first thing I asked myself after using the device, for about half an hour, was — who is Apple aiming this at — because I don’t understand.

It’s too big and bulky to be used as a tablet to travel with, and I’d be terrified of breaking that massive screen as it just seems like an awful lot of glass to get smashed. Unlike my iPad mini, I couldn’t happily chuck it in my bag and go travelling, as I’d spend the entire time worrying about it.

But then again if they’re planning on making the iPad Pro focused at Professionals, why are you still limited by the iOS operating system that has been designed to make devices simple? The screen size is the same as my MacBook Pro, yet I can’t run the Creative Suite on it properly. Yes I get that this is based around creatives and drawing, but what happens when that drawing is done and I want to export the SVG and save it to the cloud and collaborate with my colleagues? You can’t do that effectively with iOS.

Final Thoughts

I will give Apple some praise for this device; the screen is incredible, for how big it is it is still incredibly thin and light for its size. The speed of the hardware and the apps that run on the device are very impressive. There is nothing functionally wrong with the hardware or the device itself.

But, unlike when I got my iPad Mini and literally didn’t put it down for over a week, I put the iPad Pro down after a couple of hours and haven’t really used it since. It all feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. If this had been Apple’s answer to the Microsoft Surface then I think this could have been something incredibly special.

Maybe it will get there with future updates and the addition of the Keyboard and Stylus, but on release, it just isn’t there yet.

Jen Hennings
Jen Hennings

Akendi Alumnus

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