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If you think the new iPad Pro is “just a bigger iPad”, you’re wrong. It’s a new way of iPad-ing.
Much like with any Apple announcement, people are split down the middle about the new iPad Pro. Everyone has an opinion, whether they intend to buy one or not — and so do I.
Ignoring the question of my authority, the debate shouldn’t be about whether people need a bigger iPad or not. It’s not even about innovation. The only thing you need to ask yourself is this: is the new iPad Pro useful?
The iPad Pro Wants to Make iPads Useful
Ask around and you will find several iPad owners who don’t know what to do with their iPad any more. It’s used once in a while, but mostly, it’s just lying neglected at home, like that inflatable sofa you bought off the TV shopping channel at 3am. MacWorld’s Simon Jary wrote the best piece I’ve read on this phenomenon, and found several echoes across the web.
That’s what the iPad Pro seeks to improve on. Its purpose is to make you use it beyond the usual “play a few games, surf the web for a few minutes, check my emails” scenario. The iPad Pro is the first productivity-focused iPad.
The iPad has always been primarily a consumption device and not offered much in terms of creation. But the Smart Keyboard cover changes that by letting you turn it into a laptop anywhere on the go. Similarly, the Pencil, when combined with the right software, will enable everything from robust image editing to creating presentations.
Champion of the Surface, Microsoft is bringing major changes to Office for iPad by actively supporting these accessories, making the iPad Pro a good option for the professional on-the-go.
The iPad Pro Wants You to Dump Basic MacBooks
In a way, the iPad Pro is taking on the MacBook. I’ve always said that the MacBook Air is a great value laptop, but the new iPad Pro seems to be challenging it for the crown of a value-friendly portable computing machine.
“If I was looking at replacing my MacBook in a few years time and had the option between an iPad Pro or another MacBook, I think I’d find it pretty tough to justify the extra money I’d need to stump up for Apple’s laptop. The same can be said for many who use the Air. And even some who use the Pro,” wrote Eliot Michaels in a blog post about the iPad Pro’s cannibalization of MacBooks.
Right now, the app ecosystem of the MacBook and the general OS X environment is far better suited for power users. Even though the new iPad Pro’s larger screen can take advantage of split-screen multi-tasking in iOS 9, it isn’t true multi-tasking like you would get on OS X. And heavy-duty professional apps like Final Cut Pro and Scrivener are still missing.
However, app developers will flock to iOS as it gets more users, and more professionals. The example of Microsoft and Adobe making iPad apps is indicative of how even the most unlikely of software developers will warm to the platform once the userbase is there.
Maybe not now, but in a few years you could definitely look at the iPad Pro as an alternative to the MacBook Air or other Mac laptops.
Is It Innovative? No. But It’s Still Great
At this point, there is no arguing the fact that Apple has dropped the ball on being innovative when it comes to the iPad Pro. The Microsoft Surface Pro beat it to the punch.
“Apple has done a great job as a design company. But I wish they would do something as earth shattering as some of their earlier computers,” wrote Francine Hardaway. Some said Bill Gates predicted tablets better than Apple and Jobs. And then there’s that comic strip by Hijinks Ensue.
But here’s the thing: Not being the first doesn’t mean this isn’t a good product. We loved the Surface Pro and so did most of the tech press, especially the latest Surface Pro 3. It’s a great form factor and it makes a lot of sense. So when you apply the same logic to the best tablet around, why wouldn’t it be a killer machine?
Leave the Windows vs. Apple hatred aside, and focus on the product itself. If the Surface Pro 3 makes sense as a great portable 2-in-1 device, so will the iPad Pro. While the Surface Pro is a desktop first and a tablet second, the iPad Pro is a tablet first and a desktop second. That’s the basic difference, but both devices will do all jobs you want of them.
Will You Buy the iPad Pro?
In my head, it’s pretty clear that the iPad Pro could become a viable 2-in-1 convertible-slash-hybrid device. Plus, given Apple’s control of the ecosystem of third-party developers and accessories, I would put good money on betting that it will be better than existing hybrids.
What about you? Will you buy the iPad Pro? Can it replace your laptop?