The iPad Pro has finally dropped into the balmy jittery hands of reviewers and customers alike and their first impressions have flooded the internet. So far it seems like a whole bunch of “it’s not a good laptop” and “it’s not a good tablet”. Much like everything in life, the use case varies from person to person, and it could be a perfect device for say, grandparents, and an impractical device for a business professional.
Needless to say, the iPad Pro is somewhat of a confusing product. It’s almost too big to be an iPad, and it’s too constrained to be a laptop. As an iPad, it’s a great consumption machine with wonderful sound and a large high resolution display. But laying in bed and watching Netflix with such a large device is cumbersome. Not to mention, holding the device with one hand causes a good deal of strain. A good analogy is the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus. The device is so large, it’s almost impossible, and definitely impractical, to use with one hand. iPads were never really meant to be used with one hand, but one would oftentimes hold the iPad in one hand and manipulate the screen with the other. With the iPad Pro this general use case becomes uncomfortable, just as it did with the 6 Plus. So let’s say we attach a keyboard and use it as a laptop. Even then, the “Pro” aspect of the iPad Pro is grossly constrained by iOS itself.
Unless “doing work” is writing a blog, or drawing something, the iPad Pro is not going to easily replace a laptop. iOS 9 made great strides as far as multitasking and other productivity-centric features. Despite this, other than first-party Apple apps, the iPad is fairly lacking in desktop class apps. Sure the device has the power and the size to be essentially a laptop, but Apple isn’t doing anything to incentivize developers to bring their productivity apps to iPad.
Desktop class applications cost $50-$100 in most cases. In addition, each year applications are usually upgraded and you can buy a new version, or pay for a subscription service. These features that are usually synonymous with pro apps aren’t easily implemented via Apple’s walled garden of an app store. What consumer is going to go on the app store, pay $99.99 for an app, and then do the same thing next year? We’ve been trained by the app store to expect free updates automatically pushed to our phones, which rarely happens in the pro app world. What if the consumer dislikes the app? The typical iOS course of action is to leave a negative review voicing complaints. If they had bought the application from the developer directly, they could go to the developer and voice their concerns without the app store middleman in the way. Not only that, but once the developer has fixed whatever issue was plaguing their app, they have to submit the update through Apple and wait for it to be published, adding another step that previously was not there. The moral of the story for developers and consumers alike is doing something productively on an iPad Pro is possible, but more difficult.
The iPad Pro is a compelling product, but it is difficult to say who it is for, and how well it will succeed. Future iterations of iOS not only need to better support developers, but also need an overhauled UI. Currently, the user interface is beautiful, and simple, but not necessarily easy to use, or intuitive. Productivity stems from how well the user interface is set up, and currently iOS is not doing too great of a job. The likelihood of Apple improving or moving away from a tiled window based UI in iOS is slim to none. It is definitely possible to be productive with an iPad Pro, but, using a MacBook, or Surface Pro 4/Surface Book, would be much easier, and more likely than not, much more productive.
Recently, iFixit tore down an iPad Pro and revealed it’s innards for the world to see. It is nothing new or terribly exciting. What the teardown did show is that fixing an iPad Pro is a costly endeavor for repair professionals. The laminated digitizer/display combo is not only large in size, but price as well. Unfortunately, I would not expect a Shatter Buggy iPad Pro repair anytime soon. It will happen eventually. Just not soon.