My thoughts on the 2018 iPad Pro

I have owned and used almost every iPad that Apple has made. The first iPad was great, but it had some serious limitations. I used it mostly for reading ebooks and news, watching an occasional movie, or catching up on email. I loved that early experience. The iPad 2 was so much thinner! I was in heaven when it arrived. That was the first iPad where I really tried to use it as a computer. It was the iPadAir that really drove my commitment to using the iPad for work. Every iPad was a little better. The new iPads Pro are no exception to that trend. Faster, thinner, lighter, and more powerful.

 Photo: Apple.com

Photo: Apple.com

I recently purchased the iPad Pro 12.9", generation 3 and have a few thoughts that I wanted to share, and the experience started with the FedEx driver handed me the box. I was a little taken back ... It was so light that I wondered if there was an iPad in there. The packaging was the normal for Apple ... clean, simple and elegant.

Apple has done some amazing work on the setup process. A few years ago, it would take a while to enter passwords and make decisions on how to configure a new iOS device. It was a lot of work. This experience: When the iPad prompted me, I brought my iPhone near the iPad and away it went. In a few minutes I had restored a previous backup and it was ready to go. I had a backup from my old 10.5 and one from my 12.9". I am not sure why, but it chose my 10.5. I would have gone with the 12.9", but this worked.

This iPad is light and thin. While the screen size is the same as my previous 12.9", the bezels are small. Given the lack of a home button, it feels as if you are working on a sheet of glass. This is the closest thing to a sci-fi device yet. I don't really notice which way is 'up', I just rotate it to portrait, landscape or somewhere in between, and start creating.

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One of the main reasons I upgraded was speed. I create YouTube videos two or three times a week. I use LumaFusion to create these videos. Now that I have the new iPad, I tested it and found that it can render an average video about 8% faster than my previous iPad. Less than I was hoping, but still an improvement.

The new iPad Pro comes with a new connector, USB-C. Yes, a new connector, and all of those old cables will not work. I have so many lightning cables. That said, this change is a big deal. I have connected a host of devices to the iPad already, and everything works. The big deal for me is that all of the Mac USB-C devices I have will now connect to my iPad. For example, I have several hubs that I can now use with my iPad to connect to SD cards, HDMI, USB-A devices, and so forth. This is a big deal, and I am excited about this change. I hope the next iPhone has USB-C.

This new iPad has FaceID instead of TouchID. I am not going to get into how the technology works since it has been around since the iPhone X was released in 2017. I love FaceID on my iPhone, but the new version on the iPad is so much better. It is faster and it works in all orientations. It is so fast that I forget it is even there. The only time it slows me down is when I put my fingers or hands in the way of the sensor.

 Photo: Apple.com

Photo: Apple.com

The Apple Pencil is great. It is slightly shorter, but the finish feels better. There is something familiar about the flats edge that makes if comfortable in my hand, but maybe that's just me. It works the same, with the exception of a new 'tap' interface that can be configured by developers to switch modes. For example, in Notes, a tap changes from a pencil to an eraser. Perhaps the coolest new feature is how it attaches to the iPad to charge. It's fast, smooth and works great.

I purchased the Smart Keyboard Folio. I used the previous Smart Keyboard for the 10.5" and the 12.9" iPads. This one is more stable when used on the lap, but the keys feel the same. It does not fold up like the previous version, which means that the keys are exposed when folded back in the tablet position. (add photo). This really bugs me, but it works.

Battery life on the new iPad is great. Apple says 10 hours while using WiFi, and I am seeing at least that. I love being able to pick up my iPad, and just do work and not have to worry about the battery.

I purchased the 512g version. I find apples pricing for the 1TB versions a little steep. I thought about it for a while. The 1TB version also includes an additional 2g of RAM. Maybe I will wish I had made that extra memory down the road, but I figure this is a 2 to 3-year investment and I'll deal with it when and if it becomes a problem.

 Split Screen on the 12.9” iPad Pro

Split Screen on the 12.9” iPad Pro

A friend asked me why I chose the 12.9" instead of the 11" iPad Pro. I struggled with this in the past, and it was a difficult decision this time. I owned both the 10.5" and the 12.9" of the previous generation. In the end, I want more screen. I love being able to have two full windows in split view, as well as the large canvas for creating. View for apps like mail is much better on the larger canvas. The onscreen keyboard is better on the large screen as well. The new 12.9" is so light and compact that I have had owners of the old 12.9" ask me if I was using the 11". It really does not feel as large. [pic here of split view, and mail)

Who is this iPad for? This is highly debated in the tech press. If you like working on a Mac, and are not ready to move to iOS for your computing needs, then please use a Mac. (If you want an iPad for consumption, there is a lower cost iPad that will meet your needs too).

If you have an open mind, or grew up using iOS as your computer, then an iPad Pro may be the perfect computer for you. I'm in that camp. 99% of my computer time is spent on the iPad or iPhone. That 1%? Well, I still backup my Mac weekly. I don't know why. I could automate it, but I still do it.

I think many creators will find the iPad to be a great tool. They will create art and other creations using the iPad. Loving this new iPad, and can't wait to see what software comes next.

~ Rick