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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.

Virtual keyboard and Split Screen 
The larger iPad Pro screen allows for a more full-featured virtual keyboard and Split Screen view. Credit: Michael deAgonia

Another feature introduced in iOS 9 makes it easier to use the virtual keyboard as a virtual trackpad. Placing and holding two fingers anywhere on the screen activates this virtual trackpad, allowing you to drop the text cursor precisely where you need it. You can also use taps and drags to highlight and select words or entire paragraphs.

The enhancements to the virtual keyboard in concert with AutoCorrect and text dictation help make the case for the iPad Pro as a real productivity tool for anyone writing for fun or profit. When combined with optional accessories, the iPad Pro makes a better case for use as a primary computing device.

Pencils and keyboards

There are plenty of add-ons for the iPad Pro. For the past month, I've been trying out the $169 Apple Smart Keyboard, the $149 Logitech Create backlit keyboard case and the still-rare $99 Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil isn't just a stylus; you can manipulate and navigate the interface with the Pencil, sure, but that isn't what it was made for. The Pencil is designed for situations where precision is important and was engineered specifically for the iPad Pro. Onscreen markings depend on the tilt of the Pencil tip and how much pressure is applied while drawing: light and hard presses will produce correspondingly thin or thick lines, and using the Pencil at an angle will create shading. I'm not a graphic artist, but it works really well in practice.

The Pencil doesn't feel like a cheap plastic bit in the hand; it's weighted, but not so heavy as to be uncomfortable. On a full charge -- you pair it up to the iPad Pro and charge it by removing the end where an eraser would be and plugging it into the tablet's Lightning port -- it will last for 12 hours. Fret not if you’re ever low on battery life; plugging in the Pencil and charging it for 15 seconds will give you 30 more minutes of use.

As someone who is not a fan of stylii in general, I’m impressed with the Pencil -- though it’s pricey. It is not something everyone will need, but those who draw and design will appreciate how well it works. The only missed opportunity is that the non-pointed end doesn't work as an eraser when you slide it across the screen.

iPP and Logitech keyboard 
The iPad Pro with the Logitech CREATE keyboard. Credit: Michael deAgonia


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