Software UX

For those that are unfamiliar with our other articles, we reviewed iOS 9 at its release back in September. If you aren’t familiar with what has changed in the move from iOS 8 to iOS 9 I highly recommend reading it as for the most part I have nothing new to say in the context of what was covered in that review. Instead of treading old ground, it’s worth discussing the specific aspects of the user experience that are unique to the iPad Pro.

The first, and perhaps most obvious change is the display size and resolution. While the aspect ratio is the same as the iPad Air, the significantly increased display size and resolution also affects applications. For the most part I haven’t noticed any issues here. However, in some cases there are still applications that haven’t been properly redesigned for the larger display, so they end up simply being purely upscaled versions of applications designed to fit 7.9 and 9.7 inch displays. This tends to look fairly ugly in my opinion but it does work without issue when dealing with backwards compatibility.

In cases where applications are updated to fit the iPad Pro, designs are generally well-executed and take advantage of the additional screen real estate. It’s probably not a surprise to know that most applications fall under this category, but it’s worth mentioning at any rate.

The larger display size also greatly enhances the utility of split-screen multitasking on the iPad Pro, as it’s generally quite useful to be able to run two almost iPad Air-sized apps simultaneously on the iPad Pro. As discussed in the Apple Pencil section of this review, being able to read a PDF and take notes/do problem sets based upon a document opened in Safari is incredibly useful and helps with productivity. There are other applications here to be sure, but I think an education setting was where I found the most value. However, it's worth mentioning that the multitasking UI feels like it isn't really designed for a future where hundreds of applications will occupy the slide-out multitasking menu.

For the most part, iOS is smooth and performant on the iPad Pro. However, there are a few notable cases where I did notice frame drops. For whatever reason, this seems to be basically limited to the Notes application. It seems that as time has gone on it has become increasingly difficult for anyone shipping a mobile OS to make everything smooth all the time, likely a product of their increasing complexity and larger code base.

Overall, I don't have as much to say here. When the only two competing tablet operating systems worth discussing in comparison to iOS are either neglected (Android) or heavily reliant upon legacy applications that really need a mouse and keyboard to be used properly (Windows), iOS stands alone as basically the only touchscreen OS worth using. I don't think the solution to the problem of the keyboard with the iPad Pro means that it needs a touchpad, nor should using both keyboard and touch simultaneously in the deployed mode be the dominant method of interaction. Trying to do the former is basically just emulating a really terrible laptop, while the latter makes for poor ergonomics almost universally.

While it may be appealing to make a tablet that is also a laptop due to the nature of legacy Windows applications, trying to make such a convergence device is a great way to make either a compromised laptop or a compromised tablet. The other half of the functionality is almost never going to be used in practice if my experiences with Surface Pro are anything to go by. Android showed arguably even more promise than iOS as a tablet OS due to its more traditional computer than appliance OS structure, for whatever reason the promise that came with the structure of Android didn't pan out in execution.

As a result, the iPad line stands alone in software, for better or for worse.

Smart Keyboard Camera, Misc.
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  • MaxIT - Saturday, February 13, 2016 - link

    Reality check: the "nonplussed" product sold more than the well established surface pro in the last quarter.... So maybe you are just expressing YOUR opinion, and not "everyone's ".... Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    The performance is "great" for iOS, FTFY. It would suffer on anything "Pro".... Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    Performance is better than a high end workstation from 10 years ago, a system which was capable of running professional tasks which are still nowhere to be found on mobile platforms. And it has nothing to do with performance. It has to do with forcing a shift in the market, from devices used by their owners to devices, being used by their makers to exploit their owners commercially. And professional productivity just ain't it. Not content creation but content consumption. People flew in space using kilohertz computers with kilobytes of memory, today we have gigahertz and gigabytes in our pockets, and the best we can do with it is duck face photos. That's what apple did to computing, and other companies are getting on that train as well, seeing how profitable it is to exploit society, it is in nobody's interest to empower it. Reply
  • Phantom_Absolute - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    I just created an account here to say...well said my friend Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    I was trying really hard to understand what you were trying to say.
    Computers didn't get us to the moon. They sure helped, a LOT, but it was good ole rockets that did.

    Anyway, point is (and I exaggerate), even if you shrink the latest 8 core Xeon E3 coupled with the fastest Nvidia Quattro into a 3-5W envelope and stick in an iPad, it won't make it anything close to a "Pro" product. It's about overall FUNCTION.

    An iPad "Pro" with a revamped version of iOS, more standard ports, and a SLOWER SoC would be a much better "Pro" product than what we have here.

    Even Android sucks for Pro tablets. Only Microsoft has a thing here.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    What I am trying to say is mobile hardware IS INDEED capable of running professional workloads. Of course it won't be the bloated contemporary workstation software, but people have ran workstation software on slower machines than that, and it was useful. So yes, this device has enough performance for professional tasks. There is no hardware lacking, only the software is.

    I can assure you, no matter how many rockets you have, you will never reach the moon absent computer guidance. The rocket is merely power, but without control, power never constructive and always destructive.
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    "There is no hardware lacking"
    "The rocket is merely power, but without control, power never constructive and always destructive"

    You seem convinced that you can be productive on a screen with only a fast SoC attached. I don't know where to start.

    With all due respect, your analogies are ridiculously irrelevant (hence why I was having trouble understanding them). Workstations in the past had much more FUNCTION that any iPad today. IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT THE COMPUTING POWER. These workstations, despite lacking power by today's standards, were built with certain function in mind, and were used for their intended tasks.

    iPads are consumption devices, first and foremost. Apple did nothing for "computing", but they did a lot for consumerism. iDevices got popular because they addressed consumption needs by lots of consumers that they didn't even know they needed/wanted, I'll give them that. But Apple's *speed* of forcing "new technology" on people's throats, and turning perfectly functional products unusable is unprecedented, and bad. Your "Pro" device is NO exception, and isn't going to last, nor function, as long as the _workstations from 10 years ago_...

    The Pro moniker is being abused. What does it even mean now? Relative speed? Function? Value? Multiple products in one? I don't know anymore. But I'd like to believe that Microsoft's definition of a Pro products sounds easier on my ears.

    You seem to be extremely sold on marketed idea that disposable technology with a timed bomb to obsolescence is a good thing. Technology that does nothing but harm the industry and its consumers. To each their own I guess.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    You are ridiculously ignorant. Both a workstation from 10 years ago and this product are in terms of hardware general purpose computers. What specifies one as a workstation and another as a content consumption device is the software that runs on that general purpose computer. A 10000$ contemporary workstation would only be good for content consumption without the workstation grade software. Much the same way that this device can be good enough for workstation use with the proper software. Once again, clean up your ears - there is no limitation on a hardware level. It is all about the software.

    Your problem with understanding my analogies stems from the fact you are a narrow minded person, and this is not an insult but a sad fact, most propel are, it is not your fault, it is something done to you, something you are yet to overcome. You are not capable of outside the box thinking, you are conceptually limited to only what is in the box. Why is why you perceive outside the box opinions as alien and hard to understand.
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    lol, I should really convert to the Apple religion just to stop being ignorant. Take care man. Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    You should just sit down and carefully reevaluate your whole life, I mean if "apple religion" is what you were able to take out of all the apple bashing I went through :D Since you obviously missed that obvious thing, let me put it out directly - I am criticizing apple for crippling good hardware to useless toys. Reply

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