Tag: ipad (page 1 of 2)

2018 iPad Pro

Just over a year ago I upgraded to the 10.5 iPad Pro with folio keyboard and Apple Pencil. I was convinced this iPad would do me for another 3-4 years…until Apple brought out a brand new iPad Pro design and a version 2 Apple Pencil. The message from Apple this year is the iPad Pro will make you rethink what an iPad and hence a computer is capable of. Does it?

New Design
I love the new design of the iPad Pro. Flat edges and thin across the whole iPad it feels great in the hand. I wondered if the flat edge would feel uncomfortable when holding the iPad for a while but I’ve had no issues so far. The design reminds me of the iPhone 4 & 5 which were a favourite of mine. I’d love to see a similar design introduced for next years iPhone’s.

The rounded corners are now matched with rounded screen corners. Apple have brought their Liquid Retina LCD to the iPad – Liquid Retina seems to indicate rounded corners – and it looks fantastic. Despite it not being an OLED I struggle to see the difference in playback of videos when I compare the iPad to the iPhone X. The screen still has all the new tech that was introduced last year including ProMotion and TrueTone which ensures a fantastic image at all times.

Many have said this is a borderless iPad and the screen is edge to edge…but it’s not. It’s close to the edge but there’s an undeniable border that runs around the whole screen. The difference is that it’s constant and you really can’t tell which way is up unless you look at the back and see the Apple logo. The thinner border also houses the main difference from every other iPad so far as there is no home button or Touch ID.

Face ID is now tucked into the iPad Pro (no notch!) and so far it’s been better in use than the iPhone. It works in any orientation, it’s faster than my iPhone X and if you do have your hand covering the front facing camera it will alert you with an on screen dialogue. It also feels more frictionless than Touch ID. I will be working on the iPad and when something needs to unlock like 1Password it just happens assuming camera isn’t blocked. Face ID has really speeded up my iPad usage.

The removal of Touch ID has lead to Apple tweaking both iPad Pro design’s. The smaller iPad is no longer a 10.5″ screen but moves to 11″. The larger iPad 12.9″ screen stays the same but the footprint of the iPad has now shrunk. Due to this shrinking and the overall thinning the 12.9″ now takes up 25% less volume than last years model. This lead to a tough choice. I didn’t pre-order the iPad Pro as I wanted to see the new models in the flesh. Last years 10.5″ iPad Pro was great as a consumption device and was OK as a laptop replacement but there were times when the keyboard felt small and multi-tasking two apps was a bit tight on size. Could I move to this years 12.9?

Yes. On comparing the 11″ and 12.9″ I much preferred the bigger screen and felt the compromise in weight was one I could make. In practice over the last week it’s been the right choice for me. Using the iPad with the keyboard has been far more comfortable, video watching on the larger screen has been great and general browsing and reading is a bit more clearer. Yes it’s more weighty and slightly more cumbersome but it’s not been enough to make me think about swapping back to the 11″.

Faster and Louder
Powering this years iPad Pro’s is the new A12X chip. The performance of this is pretty astounding. I’ve ran a Geekbench test against the new iPad Pro and my current 2017 iMac and iPhone.

The iMac is more than 2.5 times the cost of the iPad Pro and has a noisy fan at times when you stress it unlike the iPad Pro but the Geekbench scores are close. App’s fly on the iPad – it’s faster than last years model which was already a really good performer. It feels like Apple could replace Intel with ARM chips in Mac’s now, especially for the MacBook Air and Pro’s.

The other significant change is in the connector – lightning has been dropped for USB C. USB C is more capable than lightning, it can supply more power for example. There are also thousands of USB C peripherals out there but at the moment it’s trial and error if the iPad Pro supports it thanks to iOS.

Worse is the limitations around files. Plug in a camera or an SD card via an adaptor and it will be recognised and allow photos or videos to be imported. Anything else however is ignored. Plug in a flash drive with a Word or Pages file – ignored. Zip file – ignored. Music files – ignored. Support for browsing of external drives seems trivial to add to iOS especially with the Files app that arrived with iOS 12. This shouldn’t need to wait until iOS 13 – why not a 12.2 or 12.3 feature? It would bolster Apple’s claims about rethinking what an iPad can do and would have silenced a lot of negativity if it had came alongside the iPad Pro release.

Always the butt of jokes, the camera’s have seen some upgrades too. The rear camera is new and unique to the iPad, isn’t as good as the new iPhones but does take a good picture and is also great for scan’s. The camera bump is pretty large but doesn’t cause the iPad to rock when placed flat. The front facing camera is the same as the XS and XR (thanks Face ID) so unlike the rear supports portrait mode.

Something that has been dropped is the headphone jack. This feels mean especially for something advertised as a Pro machine. Yes you can buy USB C adapters (and unlike the phones no adapter was included with the iPad Pro) but it feels like a mistake to me. However the 4 speakers are improved over last year. Louder and clearer the sound on the new iPad is excellent for something so thin.

Final point is on battery life. Apple change each year how they define battery life. 10 hours, full day etc. I’ve found the battery life to be much the same as previous iPad’s. Long lasting especially when compared to a laptop, so a full day of work is easy to achieve.

Folio Keyboard
So far, so positive. The new Folio Keyboard has also seen some design changes. There is a new smart connector for the keyboard and rather than attach at the side of the iPad the new folio covers the entire back. In fact the back of the iPad plays an important role in aligning the keyboard via magnets. On the back of the iPad Pro there are over 100 magnets used to align the folio when connecting. This works so well. Easy to take the keyboard off an on and no worry about whether it’s on and aligned properly.

The outside material of the folio feels a little different to the last model. It feels a bit softer but it also picks up fluff and dirt easily which is annoying. It’s also a shame that the new iPad is then wrapped in a solid flat grey case – there’s not even an Apple logo on show. In some ways it matches the industrial design of the iPad but it is bland compared to the naked iPad.

The folio is far more comfortable to type on my lap. Little movement, and the wider keyboard is far more comfortable than the older 10.5. The majority of this post was written using the new keyboard and it’s far less cramped than the 10.5 version. However the keyboard itself feels a missed opportunity. There are still no backlit keys – not even a caps lock indicator. There are also no media or shortcut keys which seems lacking for a Pro device.

They new folio allows for two positions, desk and lap. It’s nice to have two options but it’s nowhere near as flexible as something like the Surface Pro. I’ve had no major issues with the angles provided but I’ve seen others complain about neck strain as neither angle is exactly right.

While the keyboard is more stable in general the iPad on the folio seems to flex more than with the last design. The image below shows the 2017 iPad Pro 10.5″. There’s a bit of movement when you poke the screen.

The second image shows the 2017 iPad Pro 12.9″. There’s much more movement including the keyboard itself. Not sure if that’s a symptom of the new design, it’s due to the bigger iPad or just that the keyboard is new and needs time to settle.

So the folio keyboard isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. Worse – it costs £200. Like most Apple products this year they’ve all went up by around 20%. I can justify that to myself when I see new features or technology but there is nothing in this keyboard that shouts new…or Pro. I felt a bit wronged when buying the folio and I’m looking forward to seeing some third party options appear in the coming months that address the folio’s shortfalls.

Apple Pencil
Unlike the folio, the new Apple Pencil has been totally redesigned and address’s all the issues with the first version. The first difference is the matte finish. It feels much more comfortable in the hand aided by the second noticeable change. Instead of being totally round the pencil now has a flat edge that serves two purposes – it magnetically connects to the edge of the iPad and it also stops the pencil from rolling. I also find it more comfortable to hold.

While magnetically connected to the iPad the pencil wirelessly charges. This means unlike the older pencil which you could never find and if you did it was usually not charged, the new pencil is always to hand and charged and ready for action. The wireless charging means there’s no more awkward charging via a port and the pencil is slightly shorter, feeling more balanced in hand.

The final change is a button. An Apple product with a button? Don’t be daft, it’s a double tap in the lower third of the pencil that activates an alternate function which is set per app. So in Notes you are drawing with the pencil and a double tap swaps to the eraser. I’ve found it a bit awkward to use but easier the more I do it.

The Apple Pencil has also seen a 20% increase in price which for me is more justifiable compared to the old design as it includes gesture support and wireless charging. However Apple no longer supply a spare tip with the pencil. That’s tight.

In the last week I’ve used the pencil far more regularly. Comments on a PDF, signature on a doc, editing photo’s in Lightroom and just general navigation. A fantastic update.

Elephant in the Room
Apple want to class the iPad as a computer and given the power it has that’s no surprise. However reviews to date have identified one major flaw – iOS – and I have to agree. I use my iPad every day and it replaced the MacBook Air that I had. However I couldn’t give up on my Mac as iOS doesn’t let me do what I can easily do on the Mac. There are also tasks that despite the improvement in iOS 11 and 12 are faster and easier on the Mac either down to the maturity and flexibility that macOS offers or the support of things like a mouse, trackpad or large monitors.

I’d like to see iOS improve in a number of area’s:

  • Let me pick default apps. There are great mail, calendar, task management and browsers in the App Store all hampered by the fact that you can’t make them the system default.
  • Let me browse attached storage. Seems a no brainier to add and soon.
  • Make better use of the large tablet interface. An 11″ or 12.9″ screen should let me do far more than the default iOS springboard currently does. It really is just a bigger iPhone.
  • Mobile Safari doesn’t cut it anymore. Give us the same functionality and power as desktop Safari…or let me default to Chrome.
  • Multi user? I don’t need it but the iPad has everything from a hardware perspective that would allow multi user support and it seems more important to add with the price of the devices now.

Will we see any of this in iOS 13? No idea and undoubtedly won’t see them all if any. If you are picking up an iPad Pro hoping that these features come in the next 12 months then prepare for some disappointment. One last ding on Apple and software – where are the pro apps? They paraded Adobe at the iPad Pro launch and talked up Autodesk but where’s Logic? Where’s Final Cut? Pro users need Pro software and not seeing Apple’s Pro app’s on the iPad is a real negative.

Verdict
I love the new iPad Pro. The design is great – a thin all screen slab that is also a really fast computer. It feels more like the device Jobs promised in 2010 when he showed the iPad for the first time. The screen increase to 11″ and shrinking of the 12.9″ body will lead to more moving to the larger iPad. The keyboard is a kludge but the gen 2 Apple Pencil is a fantastic step up and improves in every area.

Will it replace you current computer?

Maybe.

It totally depends on what you use your current computer for. I fallback often to the iMac and I couldn’t move to being iPad only right now not due to the hardware but solely down to iOS. 2019 is a big year for software on the iPad. Real Photoshop from Adobe will land and there will be much speculation on what iOS 13 will deliver for the iPad. For too long the iPad has seen little attention to differentiate it from the iPhone. Apple, it’s time to unlock the iPads potential.

10.5″ iPad Pro

My iPad Air was getting long in the tooth. Over three years old it was slow to launch apps and didn’t fully support running two apps at the same time. During that period Apple had launched the 12.9” Pro which was tempting but just a bit too big for my needs. The 9.7” Pro was also launched but just felt like more of the same. I really wanted something in between. So when Apple announced a 10.5” iPad Pro I decided to go all in and order one to not only replace my current iPad but also my MacBook Air which was 5 years old. It’s been a few weeks since the iPad was delivered so I’ve had plenty time to form some opinions.

Design & Hardware
The 10.5” iPad Pro is slightly taller than the existing 9.5” but not by much. The screen however is 20% bigger and the bezels have been reduced. They aren’t invisible and there’s certainly still a chin and forehead but I really like the size/screen ratio and for me it’s a better size than the 12.9”. It’s portable, light and easy to use in the hand when reading but big enough for real work whether that’s writing this review, using Office or photo retouching. Running apps side by side is also much more comfortable than the 9.5” but I’ll talk more about that later.

iPad Pro 10.5″ with Keyboard

The biggest new feature is the screen. For me it’s the best screen I’ve seen or used on any device. Colours pop, text is smooth and video looks superb. Reading the Guardian, surfing via Safari, reviewing PDF’s in Documents or catching up on articles via Pinner is a joy. It’s responsive too and a real step up from previous iPad’s and any other tablets I’ve used over the years.

The reason is something Apple call ProMotion. The screen can run up to 120Hz but does this adaptively so when you don’t need that refresh rate it drops to preserve battery life. Apple also ensure you don’t have any frame rate issues when watching videos. The Pencil is also silky smooth with almost zero lag in most apps.

The new Pro has 4 speakers and is notably louder and clearer than previous versions. It makes for an amazing consumption device. Watching YouTube or Netflix, not only do the visuals pop but it sounds great too.

One other notable spec bump – the camera. I know, who wants to look a tit taking photo’s on an iPad but the best camera is the one you have with you and the iPad shares the same sensor and lens as the iPhone 7 so that’s a 12 MP camera that can capture 4K video. You also get a small bump on the back of the iPad and while it’s not got in the way in my use the design would look so much better without it. The size of the iPad gives you a bit more stability as well, so forget how daft you look, just use it.

Learn to love the bump

Performance
This years iPad Pro has the A10X chip inside. Apple have been designing their own mobile chips for a few years now and yet again the performance of the A10X is staggering. Every app I’ve tried has been fast including more intensive apps like video or photo editors. If anything it’s overpowered for today’s software on the iPad which is great for the longevity of the device but also should give confidence to iOS developers that they can push their apps.

Another jump is the RAM which sits at 4GB. This in combination with the chip delivers some great benchmark scores, similar to a low end MacBook Pro. When swapping between apps there is zero lag even for apps that were opened a while ago. Apps launch quickly, it feels like you are resuming from wherever you’ve left out without delay and it really is a joy to use.

Gorgeous screen, scrolling text easily readable

Couple of other performance notes. The Touch ID sensor has been updated and is as quick to use as the iPhone and the lightning port has been upped to USB 3 speeds which makes for faster charging and speedier data transfers. Overall the iPad Pro is, right now, an untapped beast.

Accessories
Considering the price of the iPad the lack of in the box accessories is a tad disappointing, especially given that the charger supplied is not the larger 29W power adapter which costs £49 and comes with no cable. However the accessories released by Apple are really nice if again pricey.

The Smart Keyboard for the 10.5” is a good size. The slightly smaller iPad felt a little crampt when typing but I’ve had no issue with the 10.5. You don’t need to power it either as it draws everything it needs from the Smart Connector. The keys are comfortable, don’t feel too shallow and I can use it for extended periods without issue. The only thing it lacks is backlit keys which I miss. The only real negative is the price at £159…and the reality that it could do with being ever so slightly bigger.

The Apple Pencil has seen no changes this year but the more responsive screen makes the Pencil feel even better than when I tried it on last years iPad Pro. Comfy to use, the charge lasts well and if it does run out it doesn’t take long to get a workable charge into the Pencil. £99 doesn’t feel pricey as it’s such a quality piece of kit. One issue though – where to store it?

The Apple Leather Sleeve is a gorgeous case for the iPad Pro that solves the storage issue. The Pencil slots in at the top and the iPad and Keyboard fit snuggly in the case. The case is a soft leather and really does complete the iPad. The issue? Price again as it’s £149.

I picked up all three accessories and while it’s a fantastic combination the overall cost was £1116. Eek!

Eleven Heaven?
It can be argued that I picked the iPad Pro up early as it came with iOS 10 and iOS 11 brings a number of iPad specific updates that promise a step change for users. I skipped the first developer beta’s but jumped in with the public beta and I’m glad I did as it’s a more complete environment for iPad users than we’ve seen in the past.

The biggest change is the dock, which allows for a larger number of apps that you can launch from any screen than the six you could have before. You also see the last three app’s you’ve opened or iOS chooses to display thanks to handover. The dock can be seen on the home screen or by swiping up when you are in any app. Reminds me of the dock on macOS but crucially iOS 11 has changed multitasking and the dock is a key component.

You no longer swipe from the right and select an app to run in split view. Instead you drag an app from the dock and can leave it hovering on top of the main app or you can enter into split view, and this can now be left or right – you aren’t restricted as you were in iOS 10. However iOS 11 introduces the concept of app pairs, so you pair Tweetbot with Safari and can select them again when you swipe up from the dock. But you can’t pair Tweetbot with another app. If you only use a handful of apps, the dock method works great. If you regularly use more then multitasking feels awkward, slow to use and the best method is to use spotlight but that feels like a hack when you do it. It’s only a beta so things may get a bit smoother, but this feels a bit clunky.

You also get a files app in iOS 11 (finder!) and drag and drop between apps is great but only Apple apps support it and we need to wait until September to see third party releases with these features. Overall iOS 11 delivers a much better experience for iPad users and hopefully we’ll see some tweaks to multitasking to make it a bit smoother to use day to day.

Verdict
It will be of no surprise that I love the iPad Pro. The 10.5” is the perfect size for me – still portable but large enough to be useable. In the weeks I’ve used it I’ve not touched my MacBook Air once. Something the new iPads have reignited is the age old question – can the iPad replace your Mac or PC?

It’s a bogus question. Whether it totally works for you depends on what you do. For me I still use an iMac for certain tasks but there’s no doubt I lean on iOS more than ever. For other users the iPad is all you need. In fact for many the iPad will be by far the best option compared to a Mac or PC. It’s all down to what works for you especially considering the iPad isn’t cheap. The cheapest MacBook or MacBook Pro is £1249 compared to the £1116 I’ve spent on the iPad Pro. You certainly spend less if you buy the iPad on it’s own but it’s so much better with the keyboard and pencil.

I’ve also seen some reviews that says the iPad Pro needs iOS 11. Bullshit. With iOS 11 you get a better experience, but the hardware upgrade alone makes it a great purchase…iOS 11 add’s a bit more as will future iOS updates.

Overall the iPad Pro 10.5″ is a fantastic device with potential to last for years. There’s no better tablet on the market.

iPad Air

When the iPad was first announced I scoffed at it. Who’d want a bigger iPod Touch? More fool me. I loved the first iPad and jumped on the first retina iPad when it came out in March 2012. I loved it but as time went on it was obvious that it was underpowered and was struggling to throw all those pixels around. October 2012 saw Apple release a fourth generation iPad with a better CPU but that was too soon for me to upgrade. iOS 7 didn’t help and only highlighted the third gen’s performance problems. They also released an iPad Mini but that was non-retina so I always knew my iPad upgrade would probably be this year and involve a choice between a new iPad and a retina Mini.

So in late November after much deliberation I plumped for an iPad Air. I love it.

iPad Air

iPad Air

The iPad Air and Retina Mini are more similar than I expected. They have the same processor, memory, M7 chip, come with the same capacities and both have 4G options. They even have the same pixel count – the only difference is size and weight which made the choice a difficult one.

Ultimately what swung it for me was the usability of the larger screen over the smaller one. Reading both books and comics was better on the Air and the virtual keyboard was easier to use for me on the Air. A part of that is probably just me being used to the size so your mileage will vary. What was surprising was how close the weight of each device felt. The Air weighs 478g against the Mini’s 341g but in practice they felt closer. The Mini felt denser and ultimately I preferred the feel of the Air in my hand. It was much lighter than expected especially as I was used to the third gen iPad weight at 668g’s.

Heavier than the Air

Paper notebook now heavier than the Air

The A7 chip and the power it delivers felt more noticeable on the iPad against the iPhone 5s. Again that might be because I’m used to the third gen performance but iOS and app’s felt so snappy on the iPad Air. App’s loaded quickly, game performance was so much better and swapping between app’s made iOS 7 feel far more complete on the Air. All combined, the Air has been a great upgrade for me. One surprising aspect hit me a few days after use. The drop in weight of the iPad Air has now made it lighter than my usual work notebook which weighs in at a mighty 580g. Thats for a 200 page A4 paper pad. I can now swap that for a lighter iPad Air that can do everything a paper pad can do plus so much more. The iPad Air feels like the iPad that matches the ambition that Apple had when Steve Jobs showed it for the first time in January 2010. A lot has changed in 4 years – that original iPad looks massive now yet much remains the same. 9.7″ screen, physical home button and a familiar design. The only feature I miss is Touch ID. I am constantly trying to unlock the Air by touching the home button. Damn you Apple.

Logitech Ultrathin Cover

Logitech Ultrathin Cover

I say Touch ID is the only feature I miss. This isn’t strictly true. There are times that a physical keyboard would be great for taking notes or updating documents on the go. Yes, I could use a laptop but I can do 95% of my work on an iPad so for those infrequent times I want a physical keyboard I’ve picked up a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. This acts as a screen protector when carrying and does increase the weight but includes a great physical keyboard that works over bluetooth. I’m OK at using the virtual keyboard but still feel more comfortable using physical keys that I can touch. The keys are smaller than a full size keyboard and initially I’m finding some letters are constantly being missed – A is always an S at the moment. However it’s been working well and the keyboard shortcuts that you can use on iOS especially for selecting blocks of text are great when compared to their touch equivalents. The logitech matches the ipad colour eactly but feels a bit plastic in comparison. Also, it’s another device that needs to be charged although a charge seemingly lasts for around 3 months assuming a couple of hours use per day which is good. Definitely a niche requirement but I’d wanted one for around a year and waited until I swapped to a newer iPad design. It will be interesting to see how my usage fairs over the coming months.

I can’t recommend the iPad Air strongly enough. Fast, light with a great screen and an amazing software library. I’m looking forward to developers pushing the A7 chip to see what the Air and iOS can really deliver.

iPad Not Annoying

Mavericks is mostly great apart from an annoying notification that your iPad isn’t charging which can’t be turned off. Until now. Great tip from Craig Hockenberry.

iOS 7 and those new iPads

It’s been a few weeks since Apple released iOS 7. Has it caused much change?

My iPhone home screen using iOS 6

My iPhone home screen using iOS6

Home screen on the 5s on iOS 7

Home screen on the 5s

It surprises me in that short time how dated the iOS 6 screenshot looks. Not sure if thats down to familiarisation from day to day usage of iOS 7 but it just screams ‘old’ when I look at it. On the surface many app’s look the same but most if not all the home screen app’s have seen updates over the last 6 weeks with some bringing considerable new functionality.

Take Fantastical for example. A new version came out with not only an updated look for iOS 7 but integrating reminders alongside appointments. A small change but one that has led me to using Apple Reminders rather than Wunderlist which I’d moved to from Omnifocus as it was over the top for my needs. iOS 7 has kickstarted a simplification of my app’s and services I use.

Next was removing my reliance on Apple for podcasts and switching to Instacast – should have done it months ago as listening to podcasts is a far better experience and iTunes is more stable now that I’ve removed podcasts from it. Coincidence?

Unfortunately there are still some ugly aspects of iOS 7 that irritate all the time. That Safari icon is one of them. It annoys me so much that I may switch to using Chrome on iOS as that’s what I use on the laptop and desktop. iOS 7 is also quite crashy, especially on the iPad. Hopefully a 7.1 update will remove the stability issues if not the ugly icons (agreeing with Shak that Contacts is ugly too).

Overall though I’m happy with iOS 7, the updates it’s made and the new direction it’s taking alongside the many many great app updates from third parties.

iPad

iOS 7 on the iPad

iOS 7 on the iPad

Alongside the crashy nature of iOS 7 on the iPad there’s something about it’s look that just doesn’t feel right. There is so much space and the app’s look lost on the bigger screen. Why not a fifth row? Why do folders only show 9 app’s at a time – it feels like a toy town O/S in some of the views which I’d never say about iOS 6 or the current versions of Android. Performance on my third gen iPad is also spotty so I’ve disabled most of the animations which helps but I still notice keyboard lag and stutter from time to time.

Of course, the iPad Air is now out and performance of the new device is amazing thanks to the new chip’s being used. I popped into the Apple store at the weekend and what stood out the most was the weight of the new iPad Air. More to the point, the lack of weight.

Not the screen, not the smaller design, the thinner design or the lack of Touch ID. The weight difference compared to my gen 3 iPad was more than I expected. I was convinced that a Mini Retina would be my next iPad but it will probably be an iPad Air. Yes, probably.

I’m not yet 100% that I need to replace the iPad right now. While I may want to replace it, need is something entirely different. So I will hang fire for the time being, compare it to the Mini Retina to make doubly sure and wait and see what app updates will come over the next few months that take advantage of the new chipset. Once I do decide I will definitely pick up one of these Logitech keyboards for the iPad – I think they are awesome.

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