The iPad has always been Apple’s special child which has the lofty purpose of one day representing the future of computing and perhaps so replace the Mac. But since that fabled January morning in 2010, for the most of the last decade, the iPad has been relegated to being a third category product that is stuck somewhere between the traditional Mac and the iPhone. In essence, the iPad is what a Mac would be if it was built using software and hardware that’s traditionally used for an iPhone. For the longest time, it felt like an oversized iPhone but the last iPad Pro which came out in 2018 has shown that the hardware and software of the iPhone can be used to build a powerful computer for the masses that could shame even the most powerful MacBook Pro. And with the launch of this new iPad Pro, Apple is now starting to show off how traditional PC concepts can be translated to the iPad while adding things that most people can’t imagine doing with a phone left alone a mobile computer. In more ways than one, the 2020 iPad Pro and its accessories show the future of the Mac.
- The most striking thing about the design of the new magic keyboard attachment for the iPad Pro is that the iPad floats on the hinge. This is similar to the way you’d see an iMac float. So a lot of inspiration is being drawn from the Mac, while Apple also incorporates things like a tilt angle of 130 degrees which wasn’t possible. Apple might’ve played a bit of catchup here but the great thing is that it is doing things its way. It’s a uniquely Apple design. Apple has also made the keyboard backlit and clicky like a traditional keyboard which was an issue with the folio.
- The addition of the trackpad has been done in a measured way. Apple hasn’t just shoehorned a macOS style trackpad here on to iPadOS, it has done this thoughtfully. The trackpad is dynamic and contextual according to the area of the user interface you are in. It adds the precision that trackpads are known for but also incorporates native iPad gestures on the magic keyboard. Once I test this, I will know more, but it looks like a first-class citizen on the iPad.
- Apple has been talking up augmented reality for years. It has made the iPad a stage for AR for a while but the addition of a full-fledge LIDAR is a statement. It is something no tablet or laptop manufacturer can dare to do which allows this new iPad to do AR in ways that no other consumer electronic gadget can. It also gets the support of two fantastic cameras on the back which take great photos and shoot basically the best 4K video that a portable gadget can. How do I know this? Well, the iPhone 11 is proof of that.
- Performance has been at the core of what the iPad delivers to its user. Apple hasn’t released many details about the new A12Z bionic processor but what I can tell you it that it ought to be faster than the A13 Bionic which is on the iPhone 11 which was faster than the Intel Core i5 on the MacBook Pro. Interestingly, that processor slower than the A12X Bionic which was there on the older iPad Pro was faster. This bad boy adds a new 8-core GPU marries it with an 8-core GPU and a neural engine. Apple has pulled all the stops and you can expect thing machine to be faster than the latest notebooks — so you can imagine editing 4K video on it and playing the highest resolution games via Apple Arcade.
- Basically, everything that’s been great about the iPad remains as is. This means you get access to the incredible library of apps of which some also now work on macOS, you get the same 120Hz pro-motion display which has been loved by people and the battery life remains great even with the addition of faster processing, pro-level microphones and LTE. There are things Apple could’ve done which were rumoured but the iPad is so far ahead of the competition that it doesn’t matter.
On a fundamental level, Apple has taken technologies taken mobile-first technologies and given the iPad Pro the ability to things that you’ll likely do on your Mac and then perhaps go one step further. At the same time, these additions come at a time where many believe the Mac is on the cusp of a huge change with rumours pointing towards an iPad-like processor for it which will need a new application paradigm inspired by the iPad. Already, developers can make their iPad and iPhone apps run on the Mac which means as the iPad becomes more like the Mac, it also becomes more like the iPad. But when the iPad can do all these things, do people need a Mac?