Ever since Apple introduced the original iPad 10 years ago, companies have been trying to create an iPad-killer Windows-based alternative. But, while devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro are powerful mobile computers, Windows multi-touch support still feels like a tacked-on bullet point.
Apple today announced a new iPad Pro, with features that firmly position it as a full-on laptop replacement. It offers laptop-level CPU performance, a high-definition touchscreen display, 4K video recording, ‘pro audio’ and trackpad support.
With the new iPad Pro, has Apple finally gotten the multi-touch laptop right?
Here’s what the company has to say about the new iPad Pro:
Now with the A12Z Bionic chip, iPad Pro is faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops. The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality mics and a breakthrough LiDAR Scanner that delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities, opening up more pro workflows and supporting pro photo and video apps. The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras, motion sensors, pro performance, pro audio, the stunning Liquid Retina display and powerful apps, extends the lead of iPad Pro as the world’s best device for augmented reality (AR). The new iPad Pro is available to order starting today on apple.com.
With iPadOS 13.4, Apple brings trackpad support to iPad, giving customers an all-new way to interact with their iPad. Rather than copying the experience from macOS, trackpad support has been completely reimagined for iPad. As users move their finger across the trackpad, the pointer elegantly transforms to highlight user interface elements. Multi-Touch gestures on the trackpad make it fast and easy to navigate the entire system without users ever lifting their hand.
The iPad Pro For Musicians and Media Creators
In the last decade, the iPad has been widely adopted by musicians as a platform for music-making. Developers have created thousands of music apps, ranging from software synths to MIDI controllers to digital audio workstations.
For most musicians using iPads, though, the devices have been a secondary platform for music – used primarily for mobile music making and live performance.
In the last few years, though, the list of the iPad platform’s shortcomings has gotten smaller, as the hardware has gotten more and more powerful and iPadOS has added features like AU support and a more capable file system.
With the new iPad Pro, Apple is positioning it as a device for users that want a laptop replacement with power. The key features for the device focus on content creation, vs content consumption:
- The new Magic Keyboard features a backlit keyboard and a trackpad
- The A12Z Bionic Chip at the heart of the iPad Pro is powerful enough to handle editing 4K video or designing 3D models. An eight-core GPU gives iPad Pro the highest performance ever in an iPad.
- The iPad Pro features an edge-to-edge high-definition display with up to 120 Hz refresh rate, True Tone color management and anti-reflective coating.
- The camera system on iPad Pro features a 12MP Wide camera for capturing 4K video and a 10MP Ultra Wide camera and can capture 4K video
- It also features five microphones high-quality microphones and immersive sound with four-speaker audio. The combination of 4K video, multiple microphones and high-def display will make it an all-in-one option for video, podcasting and other media creation.
- The new iPad Pro also features a LiDAR Scanner that can measure 3d space at nano-second speeds. The company says that this “enables a whole new class of AR experiences”.
A Multi-Touch Laptop Done Right, Or The Refrigerator/Toaster?
When competitors introduced early multi-touch Windows machines, Apple CEO Tim Cook famously responded, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.” He was making the case that adding multi-touch to decades-old, mouse-based operating systems was inherently kludgy.
The new iPad Pro makes the case that taking the opposite approach – adding a trackpad to a multi-touch OS ecosystem – will result in a ‘converged device’ that’s not a ‘refrigerator/toaster’, but in a mobile device that can tackle more and more tasks that used to call for a traditional computer.
While there’s no doubt that both MacOS and Windows have deeper benches of professional audio and media apps, what’s most interesting about the evolution of the iPad is that it is carving out its own territory for content creation.
Is the new iPad Pro the multi-touch laptop done right – or a refrigerator/toaster? Either way, mouse & trackpad support is coming to iPadOS next week.
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Pricing and Availability
The new iPad Pro is available to order now.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $949 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $1,149 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
iPadOS 13.4 with trackpad support will be available on March 24 as a free software update for all iPad Pro models, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later. Trackpad support will be available on any iPad running iPadOS 13.4, and work with Apple’s Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. Third-party mice connected over Bluetooth or USB are also supported.