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In Depth: A month with the iPad Pro

Michael deAgonia | Dec. 21, 2015
Apple’s big tablet is the ultimate (literal) laptop, and with the right accessories, a pretty good desktop replacement.

As important is the technology triggered when the optional Apple Pencil is in use. When the display senses the Pencil is near, the input sensor scans at 240 times per second, much more than what's used for touch input. The result is that drawing on the iPad Pro with the Pencil produces markings without lag; it's as close to actually marking on a piece of paper as currently technically possible. The reduced latency is the best available on the market -- that includes the Surface Pro 4 -- which will be a boon to digital designers or fervent note-takers.

apple pencil 
Apple Pencil. Credit: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The display also offers palm rejection technology, which makes it easy to draw without worrying about inadvertently altering a sketch if other parts of your hand touch the screen. This feature isn't limited to when the Pencil is in use; palm rejection means you can rest your hand on the iPad screen while flicking a finger to scroll or using other multitouch gestures like closing apps with the fist-clench move.

The one thing the iPad Pro does not have are the 3D Touch/Force Touch capabilities found in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and Apple Watch. 3D Touch and Force Touch add additional functions to apps based on the amount of pressure applied to the display, triggering shortcuts to frequently used actions, and even more features without adding more interface elements.

iOS 9 -- built for the iPad Pro?

Without the right software, even the best-looking hardware is a brick. It's clear many of iOS 9's features were designed with the iPad Pro in mind. Specifically, Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture really take advantage of the larger screen. I've found I can be as productive writing on the iPad Pro (working with Safari on one half of the screen and Pages on the other half) as I am using a similar setup on my 15-in. MacBook Pro.

The only caveat is that software needs to be able to take advantage of the bigger screen. This isn't a problem for built-in apps from Apple, but third-party apps need to get on board. The best example is Facebook; the current iOS 9 app simply scales up content to fill the screen, wasting a lot of space. Viewing Facebook in Safari is a better option on the iPad Pro.

There are other benefits to the larger screen: the virtual keyboard in landscape mode nearly imitates the spacing of a physical keyboard, which allows for easier 10-finger touch-typing. The virtual keyboard also has room to accommodate a number column above the traditional letters, saving a screen press whenever numbers and punctuation are entered. There are also buttons for more functionality like font selection, text formatting (including options for smaller/larger/bold/italics/underline), and paragraph formatting.


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