I readily admit that I was among those who questioned the release of the iPad Pro and further raised my eyebrows at the Apple Pencil. Having had both for the last few days, I can say that I am favorably impressed. Bigger is indeed better on the tablet front and Apple has also done some serious damage to the stylus input game.
First of all, the Ipad Pro is huge. Initially, you feel silly holding it and comparing it to the current generation of iPads. All that early awkwardness goes away once you realize that it is the equivalent of a laptop screen with some serious resolution with the take it anywhere and prop it on your lap convenience that makes the regular iPad so great for media consumption and all things surfing and social. The multitasking works well and the integration of iOS across the mobile platforms (iPhone and iPad) and some of the carryover into OS X is really interesting–things like answering your phone on any of your Apple devices when they all receive an incoming call is an great example of how your tech should seamlessly work together. The iPad Pro takes all that you love about the iPad and makes it bigger, faster, clearer, louder and just all around better.
Then there’s the Pencil. For all the noise that people made about the Pencil’s introduction with reference to Steve Job’s early comments in 2007 (when the 3.5 inch iPhone was fist introduced–yeah, the iPhone is only eight years old), it’s 2015 and this is a 12.9 inch super tablet with a stylus that would make Steve proud. I have tried all kinds of stylii for use in drawing and annotating documents or for taking notes where using a finger is neither as comfortable nor precise and the Pencil beats them all hands down. It feels natural, doesn’t suffer from lag or stray palm marks from contact with the screen and tracks your movements with traceable precision. It’s amazing for a first generation product. What don’t I like? I don’t have anyplace to put the damn thing when I’m not using it. For now, I’m letting it rest near the back of the flip cover where the magnetic top of the Pencil sticks to the magnets along the side of the iPad Pro.
If you’re looking for something that can finally serve as a digital notepad while providing for portable productivity, the iPad Pro is it. Does it replace a laptop? Not yet; it could but when iOS apps become as available and robust as their OS X counterparts. Until then, it will remain a mobile device that is a more than capable satellite for a laptop or desktop computer or a standalone device for those who don’t need the additional utility of desktop applications. As iOS and OS X become more alike and integrated, the powerful iPad Pro platform would be an excellent place to marry the two operating systems. It’s not equal to my 2015 MacBook yet–better in some ways and less effective in others–but it’s close.