Today Apple released the latest updates for its suite of software platforms, most notable of which are iOS and iPadOS 13.4. Timed with the release of the latest iPad Pro models, the hallmark features include brand new systemwide support for mouse and trackpad on iPad, plus a handful of external keyboard enhancements. Shared folders for iCloud Drive is the other big addition – first announced at WWDC last June then delayed out of the initial 13.0 release, iCloud users may finally be able to consider reducing their Dropbox dependency. Beyond those highlights, Apple has also included smaller OS tweaks in a variety of areas.
Posts tagged with "iPad Pro"
Ahead of its release Wednesday, the first reviews for the latest iPad Pro models went live today. Apple’s marketing for the new device has centered around its forthcoming accessory, the Magic Keyboard. Unfortunately, reviewers didn’t receive an advance version of the Magic Keyboard for testing, so the reviews have to focus on what’s available today.
The general consensus is that while the 2020 iPad Pro is a fantastic device in many ways, it doesn’t offer much improvement over the 2018 models.
We can answer some of your questions about how trackpad support will work today and we’ll get a chance to actually use it ourselves in the public beta. In the meantime, here’s what we definitely know about how it will work based on videos Apple has released publicly and on a video presentation given to reporters this morning.
Bohn gives a great bullet-point walkthrough of how iPadOS handles input from a trackpad or mouse, complete with the roster of navigation gestures supported by trackpads.
Best of all, however, the article includes a video Apple created in which Craig Federighi, Apple’s software head, demos the trackpad on the iPad Pro’s new Magic Keyboard. Presumably it’s exactly what Federighi would have done if the company had been able to introduce the iPad Pro at a press event.
With a press release published earlier today, Apple officially announced the fourth generation of its iPad Pro line. The new iPad Pro models – available, as with the current generation, in 11-inch and 12.9-inch flavors – feature the all-new A12Z Bionic chip, a new camera system that includes an ultra-wide camera and LiDAR scanner for augmented reality, and integration with a long-awaited accessory, which will become available starting in May: the new Magic Keyboard with trackpad.
What makes the iPad great is its ultimate flexibility. When I write about iPad keyboards, people inevitably say: Why don’t you just use a MacBook, already?
But the iPad lets me tear off the keyboard when I’m not using it, and a MacBook doesn’t. I can use my same iPad Pro, and all the same apps, when my iPad Pro is completely naked, when it’s attached to a keyboard, when I have an Apple Pencil in my hand, and yes, even when I’ve got a Bluetooth mouse attached.
This is why I love the iPad so much. It’s everything I want it to be, when I want it to be that—and not when I don’t. Yes, there are definitely tasks my Mac is much better at performing, and in those cases using an iPad can be a compromise. But using a MacBook that can’t be transformed into a light touchscreen tablet is also a compromise. And unlike the current Windows experience, I don’t have to retreat into a weird faux-Mac interface to get real work done.
As I’ve argued many times before, the iPad’s greatest strength is its ability to transform into different types of computer depending on what you need. Here’s how I concluded my Beyond the Tablet story last year:
At a fundamental level, after seven years of daily iPad usage, I believe in the idea of a computer that can transform into different form factors. The iPad is such a device: it gives me the freedom to use it as a tablet with 4G while getting some lightweight work done at the beach, but it becomes a laptop when paired with a keyboard, and it turns into a workstation when hooked up to an external display, a USB keyboard, and a good pair of headphones. For me, the iPad is the ultimate expression of the modern portable computer: a one-of-a-kind device that morphs and scales along with my habits, needs, and lifestyle choices.
A few years ago, I described the iPad as a “liberating” experience that married power to portability and allowed me to work from anywhere. I stand by that concept, but I’ll revise it for 2019: the iPad is a liberating device that transcends its form factor. Its range of configurations, combined with a new generation of powerful iOS apps, delivers a flexible experience that eludes classification.
Adding a trackpad and native support for external pointing devices to UIKit wouldn’t turn the iPad into a laptop: it would just add to the list of potential, optional configurations for the device. That’s been true for a while with other accessories; I don’t see why mice and trackpads shouldn’t be next.
The iPad’s primary appeal the last 10 years has been its resemblance to the iPhone. If you can use an iPhone, you can use an iPad – at least in most respects. Where that’s no longer true is multitasking.
I love the functionality enabled by iPad multitasking, but the current system is unnecessarily complex. I don’t believe the iPad should revert to its origins as a one-app-at-a-time device, but I know there’s a better way forward for multitasking.
My proposal for a new multitasking system employs a UI mechanic that already exists across both iPhone and iPad. Without losing any of iPadOS 13’s current functionality, it brings the iPad closer to its iPhone roots again and makes multitasking accessible for the masses.
Context menus are the key to a better multitasking system.
When you long-press an app icon in iOS and iPadOS 13, a context menu appears and provides various options. These menus, I believe, are the perfect home for multitasking controls.
Today Brydge announced the Pro+ keyboard for the iPad Pro, which incorporates a trackpad. The keyboard was first revealed in connection with a lawsuit filed by Brydge against another keyboard maker that Brydge says violated a patent on the company’s keyboard hinge. Although Brydge’s official announcement doesn’t disclose when it will begin taking pre-orders, the company says it will be soon. Brydge also says that the first 500 pre-orders will be shipped in late February, with the remaining pre-orders shipping in late March.
With iPadOS 13, Apple added accessibility support for pointing devices like mice and trackpads. Pointing devices can be connected via USB or Bluetooth using iPadOS’s Assistive Touch Accessibility feature, which permits navigation of the OS’s UI. Although the experience of using a pointing device with an iPad Pro partly resembles using one with a Mac, it’s also different and more limited. As Federico explained in his iOS and iPadOS 13 review:
The first and most important difference between iPadOS and macOS is that UIKit is still designed and optimized for touch input. When you enable mouse support in iPadOS, you’ll notice that the system won’t react to the hover state of the pointer: if you hover over a button in a toolbar, you won’t see a tooltip; if you wait with the cursor over the edge of a document, you won’t see a scroll bar; in Safari, hovering over drop down menus of a webpage will not automatically expand and collapse them.
I’ve used iPadOS 13 with a Logitech MX Master Mouse 3S and agree with Federico’s assessment that if you go into mouse or trackpad use on iPadOS expecting precisely the same sort of experience as a Mac, you’re likely to be disappointed. Still, the feature opens up exciting possibilities beyond the accessibility needs it addresses, such as the ability to assign shortcuts to button presses.
Brydge’s new keyboard closely resembles past models but adds a trackpad to the center of the wrist rest. The keyboard comes in two sizes to accommodate the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, connects via Bluetooth 4.1, has three levels of backlighting, 3-month battery life, and is space gray. With the trackpad, Brydge says users will also be able to open the dock with a two-finger tap on the trackpad and trigger App Exposé with a three-finger tap. Users will also be able to tap the bottom left or right-hand corners of their iPad Pro’s screen to return to the Home screen.
The 11-inch model of the Pro+ will cost $199.99, and the 12.9-inch version will be $229.99. If you are interested in ordering the Pro+, Brydge encourages registering on its website to receive an alert by email when pre-orders begin.
Separately, Brydge announced a standalone trackpad, which should appeal to existing Brydge keyboard owners who want to add a complementary trackpad without purchasing the Pro+. Brydge hasn’t disclosed much about the standalone version of its trackpad, although the company says it is coming soon, will be glass with a ‘Multi-Touch Engine,’ connect using Bluetooth 4.1, and will have a 3-month per charge battery life.
It will be interesting to see how Brydge’s Pro+ keyboard and standalone trackpad do with users. Off-the-shelf pointing device support was an important addition to iPadOS 13 for people who need the feature for accessibility reasons. I’ve experimented with the feature on several occasions, but until it’s more refined, I have a hard time seeing myself using a pointing device with my iPad Pro regularly. As a result, I’m not that interested in the Brydge Pro+, but I’ll withhold my final judgment on that score until I’ve seen reviews by people who have used production models of the device and tried one myself. I also wouldn’t be surprised if iPadOS 14 strengthens mouse and trackpad support, making the Pro+ an even more attractive option later this year.
For several years after its launch, one of the best and worst things about the iPad was that it was basically just a blown-up iPhone. This meant the device was extremely easy to use and intuitive, but it also meant lots of “computer-like” tasks were difficult to perform on an iPad. When the iPad Pro debuted in late 2015, that began to change. Features like Split View, Slide Over, Picture in Picture, and drag and drop made the iPad a more capable computer than ever. However, despite those advancements, it took until this fall before one of the iPad’s core iPhone inspirations was altered: the Home screen.
Before iPadOS, the iPad’s Home screen was just a larger version of an iPhone Home screen, with no unique advantages to it. That finally changed mere months ago, when iPadOS 13 brought two primary improvements to the Home screen: it could hold 30 icons rather than 20, and it could include pinned widgets.
These two changes alone weren’t radical departures from the Home screen’s iPhone origins, but combined with other discoveries, they unlocked significant new possibilities.
On a recent episode of Adapt, I challenged Federico to try re-creating a Mac-like desktop environment on the iPad’s Home screen, complete with file and folder launchers. What he came up with is exactly what I’d hoped for. This newfound ability, alongside iPadOS 13’s enhancements to how shortcuts work when added to the Home screen, and the debut of MacStories Shortcuts Icons, meant it was time for me to seriously consider a new approach to my Home screen.
What I’ve come up with includes apps, app folders, files, file folders, shortcuts, and of course, widgets. It’s a diverse setup, and it all lives on a single page of icons. Let me explain.
To mark the release of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Roger Cheng of CNET interviewed Apple’s Phil Schiller. The interview begins with a discussion of the laptop’s new keyboard but covers the role of the iPad Pro in Apple’s hardware lineup as well as Macs in education too.
According to Schiller, Apple spent a lot of time talking to pro users in the wake of criticisms of the MacBook Pro’s butterfly keyboard and was told that pro users wanted something like the Magic Keyboard available for desktop Macs. Of that process Schiller told CNET:
There’s a bunch of learning that happened. Some because of moving the desktop keyboard to the notebook and some because we just learned more along the way and wanted to further advance the technology.
Conspicuously absent from the interview though is any mention of changing the keyboard in response to the hardware failures that many users reported.
Cheng also asked Schiller where the iPad Pro fits in Apple’s pro lineup and whether there are plans to merge it with the Mac lineup. As Apple executives have told CNET for years, Schiller was clear that the compromises that a hybrid touch-based Mac would require wouldn’t benefit either platform. Specifically with respect to the iPad Pro, Schiller said:
It was literally to create a different product category. A couple years ago, we split off and created the iPad Pro. This has been a wonderful thing because it allowed us to create two models where we can push the technology. It really accelerated the use cases for iPad.
So now there are a lot of cases where people will use iPad, especially with Pencil, as an artist-creation tool or as a field-compute tool. What we find is there’s a fair number of people who actually spend more of their compute time on their iPad than personal computer. They didn’t choose one or the other. That’s just where they spent a lot of their time.
It’s refreshing to hear Schiller push back on the notion that Macs and iPads will inevitably merge or that consumers need to choose between the two. As someone who uses a Mac and an iPad Pro, I know that’s nonsense, but I also understand that a ‘winner-takes-all’ narrative is more entertaining.
The interview closes with a short discussion of the Mac in the education market where it has struggled at times against Chromebooks. As a parent who’s seen two of my kids learn to code on a Mac while a cheap, locked-down Chromebook sits idle in my house, except when it’s used to turn in assignments and take tests, this from Schiller resonated with me as true:
Kids who are really into learning and want to learn will have better success. It’s not hard to understand why kids aren’t engaged in a classroom without applying technology in a way that inspires them. You need to have these cutting-edge learning tools to help kids really achieve their best results.
Yet Chromebooks don’t do that. Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom because, frankly, they’re cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they’re not going to succeed.
Don’t miss Roger Cheng’s full interview on CNET with Schiller. It’s one of the best articulations of Apple’s pro hardware perspective and the place of the iPad in the company’s hardware lineup that I’ve read in a long while.