iPad Pro

Sunday, 25th November 2018

I’ve been really loving working on my 10.5-inch iPad Pro since I got it around a year ago. Recently the newer, fancier 11-inch pro came out and as much as I lust after the new design I’ve decided not to upgrade this time around.

The main reason’s the hardware side of iPads seem so vastly ahead of iOS, my current model has a good chance of getting the improvements I’m wanting without shelling out for new hardware every year or two. There’s a bunch of stuff that’s limiting on my current pro that only software can really address. The things that hold me back are relatively minor in isolation, but combined they paint a picture of productivity friction that doesn’t match the pro moniker:

  1. USB drive support in the files app – I don’t think this is something I would use all that often, I certainly don’t on my Mac, but it’s one of those capabilities that when you need it, you need it. Its absence is a particularly egregious limitation given how Apple devices have been shooting 4k video (which are very large files) for some time. Copying large files like this to a drive is often a much faster way of working and collaborating on this sort of thing.
  2. Safari – Mobile Safari is an amazing thing, but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it, particularly when it comes to downloading files. For example, I want to download a file from a stock image site to include in this blog post, no can do (at least not in an obvious way) in Mobile Safari, yikes!
  3. Multitasking improvements – There’s quite a bit in this space, but for me, it’s all about polishing what’s in the system now. I love using split screen to have two apps side by side, normally I use this when I’m doing things like replying to emails and want a browser to look stuff up at the same time. The biggest issue is there’s no way of seeing which application has keyboard focus. Yes, it’s a minor thing, but it’s little bits of friction like this that add up on daily iPad use.
  4. The camera app – Something I really like about the notes app on iOS is the document scanning function built into it. The only issue, I use Bear for note taking. On an iPad I rarely, if ever, use the camera for taking pictures but I frequently use to scan documents or take pictures of whiteboards. It would be great to be able just pop open the camera app and scan away. Scanning should be a system-wide capability and the camera app seems the obvious place to have it.
  5. Setting default apps – There’s a vast number of fantastic third-party apps available to meet just about any need. For instance, I use Outlook for my email, calendar and contacts because it works better with the Office 365 infrastructure at work. Unfortunately, you can’t set an app like Outlook to be the default “manager” of these activities. So if I click an email link in Safari, up pops the standard mail application. Not exactly ideal and certainly not pro.

The good news about all of these shortcomings is they are 100% solvable and (touch wood) are fairly likely things to come in a future release of iOS. Cool factor aside, skipping the new iPad Pro this time around feels like the right thing to do. There’s a lot of room for my existing device to grow with software updates, so it just doesn’t make sense for me, no matter how high the cool factor. The joy of Apple products.