What is the iPad Pro, now that new MacBook Pros are here?


What is a professional device, really?

What exactly is a Pro device?

In the world of consumer technology, “pro” may be the most misunderstood term. It was originally used to denote a professional product, but it’s now commonly used to denote luxury. The XDR Pro OLED display from Apple? That is reserved for pros. What is the iPhone 13 Pro? That’s an iPhone 13, but it’s a little prettier — albeit those cameras are fantastic.

In the same product line, the name has also meant other things. The MacBook Pro has been a better MacBook Air for the past few years. Meanwhile, the new MacBook Pros, which were announced last week, are aimed squarely at professionals. They’re bringing back a handful of ports, adding insanely powerful M1 Pro and Max CPUs, and receiving a Mini LED display that looks and feels similar to the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro, to be precise. It’s a difficult product to categorise because it’s promoted as a tablet and a laptop. Despite the fact that it has “Pro” in its moniker, it’s difficult to see how it differs from the nearly identically styled iPad Air (or even other iPads). The 2021 iPad Pro even has an M1 CPU, which is part of the same processor family that powers Apple’s MacBook Pros. The MacBook and iPad lines appear to be merging, so it sounds like they’ll be comparable. That’s not the case.

Is the iPad “Pro” because it can serve as a daily driver in place of your laptop? Who is this for, given that there are four iPad subclasses, including a freshly upgraded iPad Mini? After nearly two months using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I’ve figured out where the iPad fits in comparison to MacBooks… and what “pro” on an iPad implies.

First and foremost, the iPad professional is not a replacement for a laptop computer. Second, this is frequently a professional tool. and this is the goal. Being a tool that is primarily intended for experts implies that it is not intended for the general public.

Is the iPad professional your next laptop?

The iPad Pro is a fantasy gadget for many people, including me, who have fantasised about it replacing our laptops. A beautiful slate that can be connected to a keyboard and supports notetaking with the Apple Pencil? Yes. The iPad Pro can now be used as a daily driver laptop thanks to Apple’s Magic Keyboards, which have keys and a trackpad. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite there yet.

The problem isn’t with the hardware. Despite its compact size, the Magic Keyboard is easy to use, battery life isn’t an issue, and the iPad Pro has enough of power. The issue is that the iPad Pro runs iPadOS, which is more like a phone operating system than a computer operating system.

The idiosyncrasies of iPadOS usually only necessitate simple workarounds. Take, for instance, Google Docs. When compared to the internet experience, the Google Docs app is clumsy, as it needs you to flip between read and write modes. I quickly discovered that using the Safari browser rather than the app allowed me to access Google Docs. In this approach, I had to rethink a lot of tiny jobs, but within a few days, I was able to complete practically all of my work on the iPad Pro.

Almost everything.

The iPad Pro is almost, kind of a laptop.

On the iPad Pro, I can do 98 percent of my work, but the final 2% is critical. I can easily write stories in CNET’s content system, but I have a lot of trouble uploading them. Clearly, this is a problem. Similarly, our email programme frequently causes me problems in a variety of mundane but inconvenient ways — our version of Outlook can copy and paste on computers but not on my iPhone or iPad Pro — making it unreliable. Apple is not to blame for any of this. It’s impossible to avoid the fact that corporations will design tools for desktops rather than hybrid operating systems like iPadOS, but the reality is that most companies will not have internal tools adapted for iPads.

The option to dual-screen with an external display is the most important feature on my iPad wish list that Apple can control. You can mirror the iPad Pro’s screen on an external device right now, but you can’t stretch one screen into another. Given the tablet’s power and USB-C port, this appears to be a software limitation that Apple could (and will) overcome with a software update rather than a hardware barrier.

Many had hoped that iPadOS15, which was released in September, would provide true multimonitor functionality. That was not the case at all. Instead, iPadOS15 brings a few more enhancements to the iPad Pro that make it easier to use: It improves multitasking, adds widget support to the homepage, and includes a handy feature that allows you to pull up Notes with a diagonal swipe from one of the corners if you’re using an Apple Pencil.

The quality of the show and processor

The enhancements to iPadOS15 improve the iPad Pro experience, but they don’t completely transform it. As uninteresting as widgets are in 2021, I found them extremely useful. But that’s the point: don’t expect the iPad Pro to replace your laptop.

It all comes down to the term Pro. The term “professional” does not signify “the best version of,” but rather “for professionals.” In that regard, the iPad Pro is similar to the XDR Pro display. Many of us snicker at the monitor’s $6,000 price tag, but for a group of creative workers, it’s a viable alternative to industry-standard monitors that cost well into the five figures. They don’t see a pretty screen; they see a device that helps them solve a problem. The same can be said about the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, which can be customised to cost up to $6,000.
Or, more likely, a Mac.

Many professionals perceive an issue that the iPad Pro can help solve when they look at it. They could be artists who consider the greater processing power and RAM in the 2021 iPad Pro as beneficial to making apps like Procreate, LumaFusion, and Photoshop work more smoothly. It’s possible they’re tennis players, as several of them seem to enjoy an app that makes use of the iPad Pro’s lidar cameras. Or, more likely, a Mac.

The MacBook Pro still lacks a touchscreen, isn’t compatible with the Apple Pencil stylus, and lacks the iPad’s superior cameras. More than anything, the iPad Pro is an art and photography tool. What about the rest? Perhaps you should think about anything else. That implies you’re better off acquiring an iPad Air, Mini, or normal iPad if you don’t know how it’ll help you be more productive.

Or, more likely, a Mac.


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