Georgia

I’m not going to do a full-blown review of my new iPad Pro, which I’ve christened Georgia (it’s just easier to keep track of the all the iPads and iPhones when they have proper names).

This is what I wrote in DayOne on the day that Georgia was delivered.

These are some impressions from using the iPad Pro for a week or so. The Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil arrived yesterday, so I’ll gradually expand this post before I publish it.

Georgia is no lightweight. You can hold the iPad Pro with one hand, but I wouldn’t want to for any length of time. But I was surprised how quickly I got used to the size. The first evening I sat on the sofa playing with Georgia, installing apps, organising folders and just generally trying different things out. After a few hours, I put Georgia aside and picked up Nikki to take her to bed. Nikki—my iPad Air 2—seemed tiny.

The Screen

The screen is big and beautiful. My photos look fantastic.

Split-Screen

Writing in Byword with split-screen in operation, I’ve experienced some crashes when Georgia hiccoughs and throws me back to the desktop. I don’t know if this is an iOS or an app bug. It’s a little annoying but hasn’t lost me any work. Split screen working will take getting used to: I’m still often double-clicking the home button and swiping. There are a couple of annoyances: often when I try to set up split-screen I find that one of the apps has not been updated to take advantage of the capability. Secondly, picking the second app means scrolling through a whole bunch of apps that are split-screen enabled. A search box would be very useful.

The Smart Keyboard

The Smart Keyboard is attached to the iPad Pro using the new smart connection on one side. Folded in one direction, the iPad then magnetically snaps into place with the keyboard available and the iPad resting at an angle. In another configuration, the keyboard is hidden, and the iPad is in viewing mode. When not in use, the Smart Keyboards is a front cover for the device.

The keyboard is pretty much full size. Edge-to-edge it is slightly wider than the Magic Keyboard for my iMac. The keys themselves are ever so slightly smaller—about 15mm to 16mm. I can’t touch-type so no complaints about how much the keyboard slows me down too much.

The feel of the keys is acceptable. I would prefer a little more resistance, but…

One problem that I have found is that the keyboard occasionally loses the connection with the iPad, and the virtual keyboard pops up. This seems to happen after a period of non-use. I’ve fixed it by simply removing and replacing the keyboard, but there may be a more elegant method.

The Apple Pencil

The pencil is round, but it doesn’t roll about when you put it down because it’s weighted inside, so the centre of gravity is offset. It rolls backwards and forwards gently and then stops moving after a few seconds. However, it rolls easily when knocked. I decided that a 1m fall from my standing desk wouldn’t be desirable, so I dug out a souvenir mug from the 2004 Christmas Market in Cologne to serve as a pencil holder.

The Pencil is just heavy enough and long enough to feel comfortable. Using it does feel like I have a real pencil in my hand.Apple Pencil In A Mug

I have found the Pencil very useful when highlighting text in books or articles that I’m reading. My fingers are too fat and often obscure the exact points at which I wish to start and end a highlight. The thin tip and length of the Pencil make this activity much easier.

I’m not an artist so other than creating simple sketches for some reason, I won’t be drawing much with the Pencil. But there’s no doubt that it’s a much better experience than with other styluses. Here’s what Gus Mueller has to say:

I love tablets. I love drawing with a good stylus that works together with the tablet and when built together correctly they become something that feels empowering and wonderful. Endless pages in a sketchbook. All the colors I could ask for. Pencils, brushes, and watercolor all working together in harmony.

Every single stylus that has been made for the iPad or iPhone has been a pile of dog shit when compared to what you can do with a Wacom tablet. Even compared to what you could do 20 years ago with a Wacom tablet. The KoalaPad on an Apple //e was probably better.

It’s been hard, and upsetting. And so much money wasted on crappy iOS styluses. I stopped paying attention whenever a new stylus was announced, since I was inevitably let down.

And then this week I got the Apple Pencil (which is Apple speak for a stylus) and an iPad Pro. This new tablet from Apple has the hardware support needed to make a useful stylus. Hardware support that has been missing for five long, very long, agonizing years.

And It’s God Damn Amazing.

Games

I haven’t put lots of games on Georgia. But I have installed Real Racing 3 just to see what it’s like. The graphics are great, but the device is a big too big to hold comfortably (but I imagine I’d get used to it) and the “driver viewpoint” is a bit close. I will keep looking for something that properly exploits the big screen and stereo sounds.

Is It A Laptop Replacement?

For some people: absolutely. I have been retired for a couple of years now, but for two years or so before that, I only took an iPad with me. I was convinced not long after iWorks for iOS was released. I was at the sushi bar in Schiphol Airport connected to a wifi hotspot. Someone emailed me a Powerpoint presentation, which I downloaded and opened in Keynote. I made some edits, added an extra slide or two, and then emailed the revised presentation back converting it to Powerpoint format as it went. Federico Viticci has been using the iPad as his primary computing platform for two or three years.

The iPad Pro dramatically increases the number of people who could travel iPad-only. This is Viticci’s view:

This is less of a “just for media consumption” device than any iPad before it. The iPad Pro is, primarily, about getting work done on iOS. And with such a focus on productivity, the iPad Pro has made me rethink what I expect from an iPad.

Viticci’s review is comprehensive and concludes:

The iPad Pro is the iPad I didn’t know I was waiting for.

This is John Gruber:

Is it a MacBook replacement for me, personally? No. For you? Maybe. For many people? Yes.

One thing I haven’t done yet is travel with Georgia. We’re off on a cruise soon, so I’ll see how it goes. Right now my favourite modus operandi is using Georgia placed on the keyboard tier on my standing desk without the Smart Keyboard attached.

Do I like it? Oh, yes!

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