On last week's episode of Connected, I mentioned having heard from a couple of MacStories readers who work at different Broadway production companies, who told me they're increasingly switching their workflows to be portable and iPad-only. Here's Samantha Murphy Kelly, writing for CNN (via David L. Jones):
Several shows, including Kinky Boots and Pretty Woman: The Musical, are shifting to a paperless system that packs the script, lyrics, videos, and costume and prop notes, into one spot for the director, crew and cast members.
The productions are leaning on an app from startup ProductionPro, which is already used at companies such as Walt Disney Studios to help produce film and TV shows.
During a recent rehearsal of Pretty Woman: The Musical attended by a handful of reporters, production stage manager Thomas Recktenwald ran lines with three cast members subbing in for an evening performance. Swiping through the ProductionPro app on an iPad Pro, Recktenwald showed off recent changes made to the script. It had notes scribbled into the margins via an Apple Pencil, and he tapped his way through videos that highlight blocking, broken down scene by scene.
Also interesting: ProductionPro can be tried for free, but unlocking the complete feature set (which includes collaboration and bigger file sizes) requires a $19.99/month subscription.
Thoughtful essay by Craig Mod on the limitations and virtues of working from an iPad Pro. This point about breaking the flow of getting work done while moving across apps is extremely relatable:
Switching contexts is also cumbersome. If you’re researching in a browser and frequently jumping back and forth between, say, (the actually quite wonderful) Notes.app and Safari, you’ll sometimes find your cursor position lost. The Notes.app document you were just editing fully occasionally resetting to the top of itself. For a long document, this is infuriating and makes every CMD-Tab feel dangerous. It doesn’t always happen, the behavior is unpredictable, making things worse. This interface “brittleness” makes you feel like you’re using an OS in the wrong way.
In other writing apps, the page position might remain after a CMD-Tab, but cursor position is lost. Leading to a frustrating circus of: CMD-Tab, start typing, realize nothing is happening, tap on screen, cursor inserts to wrong position, long-press on screen to get more precise input, move cursor to where it needs to be, start typing. This murders flow. It creates a cost to switching contexts that simply doesn’t exist on the macOS, and shouldn’t exist on any modern computing device.
This stuff has been broken on iPad for years (essentially since 2015, when Split View was introduced in iOS 9). Don't even get me started on figuring out which app in a Split View pair is the "active" one receiving keyboard input (and therefore listening for keyboard shortcuts). These small interaction annoyances might have been okay three years ago as we all sort of imagined Apple was just getting started with bringing serious multitasking to iPad; now that we've reached this generation of iPad Pros, they're just downright inexcusable.
Two days ago, I walked into my local Apple Store and bought the new 12.9" iPad Pro along with a Smart Keyboard Folio, second-generation Apple Pencil, and LG's UltraFine 4K display (plus, of course, AppleCare+ because these iPads don't come cheap). As I shared on Twitter and the Connected podcast on Wednesday, I went for a 1 TB configuration (with cellular) in Space Gray, and the display is the monitor I'll primarily use with a new Mac mini I also plan on buying very soon. It's been a busy couple of weeks in our apartment: we've been doing some renovations and buying new furniture, including a larger desk for my "office" (read: a section of our bedroom). As I've shared on my various podcasts for the past few months, getting a bigger desk with a Mac mini and 4K display that would support both macOS and iOS was always part of the plan.
While in previous years I was able to offer reviews for the new iPad Pros before launch day, that wasn't possible this year. For this reason, I decided I didn't want to wait several weeks to prepare an in-depth review of the new iPad Pro and avoid questions from MacStories readers until the story was finished. So in a break with tradition, I'm trying something different this time: as part of my semi-regular iPad Diaries column here on MacStories, I'm going to share a collection of shorter and more topical articles about the new iPad Pro over the next few weeks.
I believe this generation of iPad Pros is one the most exciting changes to the iPad line in years, and I want to jump straight into the discussion by detailing, step by step, my ongoing experience with the new iPad Pro from the perspective of someone who's been using an iPad as his main computer for the past five years. I plan to write about iOS, apps, and my iPad Pro workflow soon, but today I'd like to start by explaining my purchase decision and sharing some initial impressions about the iPad's hardware. Let's dive in.
The MacBook Air and Mac mini are alive, and the iPad Pro has taken a big step forward, but progress seems to come with larger price tags. The guys dive into all the news, after Federico reviews New York City.
This week's episode of Connected is all about Apple's Brooklyn event and my first impressions of the new iPad Pro. You can listen here.
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I just came back from the media event Apple held this morning in Brooklyn, during which the company announced major updates for the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and iPad Pro. Personally speaking, the star of the show was – unsurprisingly – the new iPad Pro line, with two new models featuring a stunning edge-to-edge display, an iPhone X-like gesture-driven interface, more powerful CPUs, and a more compact form factor.
We're sharing more details about specs, new features, and prices in our dedicated overviews (you can find the iPad Pro, Mac mini, and MacBook Air overviews here, here, and here, respectively). In this post, I'm going to be sharing some quick first impressions about the new iPad Pros along with some notes and pictures I took at the hands-on area Apple set up after the event. Obviously, I will be sharing a lot more about the new iPad Pros over the next few days and weeks both on MacStories and AppStories.
In a release that largely focuses on performance improvements and digital well-being tools to curb notification overload and smartphone addiction, Apple's Siri shortcuts initiative in iOS 12 stands out as one of the most exciting developments in modern iOS history. Perhaps even more impressive than developers' adoption of Siri shortcuts though has been the response to Apple's Shortcuts app, which enables the creation of custom shortcuts that can integrate with apps, system features, and even Siri.
In addition to a thriving community that continues to prove how combining users' imagination with automation can elevate iOS productivity, Apple itself has so far shown a remarkable commitment to the Shortcuts app by listening to the community and ensuring a smooth transition from Workflow. Traditionally, Apple's App Store apps receive major updates then linger for months before the next big set of changes; with Shortcuts, Apple has kept the TestFlight beta channel active, pushing for the same development pace that characterized Workflow before its acquisition.
The result is Shortcuts 2.1, released today on the App Store with a variety of bug fixes, iCloud improvements, and, more importantly, new actions that integrate the app even more deeply with iOS 12. If you're not familiar with the Shortcuts app, I recommending reading the dedicated section from my iOS 12 review first; if you're an existing Shortcuts user and rely on the app for key aspects of your iOS workflow, let's dig in and take a look at what's new.
Stephen was wrong, and Myke demands an apology before explaining what makes up dust. The FileMaker world is considered, then Federico explains why he thinks the 🍕emoji is wrong. Lastly, Adobe and Palm are both in the news.
Last week's episode of Connected was a fun one – we discussed food emoji, Photoshop on iPad, and the Shortcuts 2.1 beta. You can listen here.
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Jason Snell, writing for Macworld on the announcement of Photoshop coming to iPad next year:
Adobe’s move to iPad instantly makes everyone who knows, loves, or relies on Photoshop a possible candidate for an iPad Pro. And make no mistake, the iPad Pro is already plenty powerful enough to run Photoshop, and with the Apple Pencil it’s got an input method that will satisfy most graphics pros. Even better, Adobe has said that it will be building in cloud syncing for Photoshop files, so that you’ll be able to seamlessly hand off projects directly from one device to another.
A lot of the criticism of the iPad Pro as a flawed tool for doing real work comes down to software. The hardware is capable—but where’s the software? These arguments have been weak for a while now—I think Microsoft Office for iPad is aces, and Apple’s iWork apps are remarkably capable, too—but with every major app that arrives on the platform, the quieter that criticism has to get. Adobe’s also bringing a simplified version of Premiere, called Premiere Rush, to the iPad. I wonder if Apple’s considering just how Final Cut and Logic might work on the iPad?
As I've been arguing for a while now, I believe we're witnessing a shift in how tech companies – both platform owners and development studios – approach desktop and tablet software. Multiple factors – from better-looking displays and more powerful GPUs to cloud-based file management and subscriptions – are converging to make it possible to have a consistent app experience on every device you have without compromise. In this transition, iPad versions of desktop apps will be treated less like "companion" apps to a "real" desktop one and more like the same app, with the same features, optimized for touch and capable of adapting to the kind of computer it is running on (and adaptivity becomes especially important when you start considering external display output, for instance).
Photoshop, as Snell writes, is a first step. If Apple is truly pushing this vision forward, perhaps it's time they also start treating the iPad as a place for real pro apps, not just companion utilities of macOS apps.
I've spent the past two weeks updating my iPhone's home screen setup for the XS Max and, as I shared in the latest episode of AppStories, part of the process involved gaining easier access to some of the shortcuts I use on a regular basis. While I'm not a fan of the shortcuts-only home screen approach described by CGP Grey in episode 75 of the Cortex podcast (at some point, I believe you just end up swapping app folders for shortcuts), I do like the idea of adding a couple of frequently used custom shortcuts to the home screen. And as I detailed on AppStories, I also like to use "shortcut launchers" – effectively, shortcuts to launch other shortcuts.