Posts tagged with "iPad Pro"

I Turned the New 13” iPad Pro Into a MacPad and Portable Gaming Display

The updated MacPad.

The updated MacPad.

As I hinted in my story on the issues of iPadOS last week, I upgraded from an 11” iPad Pro to a 13” iPad Pro (1 TB, Wi-Fi-only model). While I was very happy with the 11” form factor, I decided to return to the larger model for two reasons:

  • I wanted to have maximum thinness with the ultimate iPad Pro model Apple makes.
  • I sacrificed the physical comfort of the 11” iPad Pro to get a larger display for my MacPad as well as portable gaming.

Today, I will explain how I was able to immediately turn the brand-new 13” iPad Pro into a convertible MacPad using a combination of accessories and some new techniques I’ve been exploring. I’ll also share my experience with using the iPad’s glorious Tandem OLED display in a variety of gaming setups ranging from streaming to emulators.

Let’s dive in.

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The iPad Pro 2024 Manifesto

There are so many parts of Steve’s iPad Pro manifesto I would quote here on MacStories, but I’m going to limit myself to just a couple of excerpts.

What I like about this story is that it’s a balanced take on the limitations of iPadOS from the perspective of a developer, laid out in a comprehensive roundup. It serves as a great companion piece to my story, but from a more technical angle.

Here, for instance, is a well-reasoned assessment of why Stage Manager isn’t ideal for developers of iPad apps:

Stage Manager was such a missed opportunity: it tried to bolt-on a windowing model onto iPadOS without providing developers any way to optimize for it, and has had virtually no meaningful improvements in two years. What I really want to see are APIs. APIs to know when an app is running in Stage Manager and give it an opportunity to enable extra functionality to accommodate that — like having an ‘open in New Window’ context menu option that it would otherwise hide. APIs to set window size/shape, minimum and maximum size. APIs to open a window in split view if possible, with a preferred screen side. APIs to drag a window on mouse-down. Auxiliary views or inspector panels that can be floated on/near a primary window, like visionOS’ ornaments.

Many of these features are available as APIs to apps using the iOS SDK… on macOS and visionOS. Which is why it boggles the mind that iPad’s own Stage Manager spec completely shunned them, and ignored the explicit intent provided by developers as to how they want their apps to work. Stage Manager wasn’t provided as an opportunity to make our apps better, it was inflicted on developers in a way that harmed the developer, and user, experience. Which is why today you can very quickly stumble upon apps that don’t quite resize correctly, or have important parts of the UI covered by the virtual keyboard, or toolbars floating in strange places.

To this day, developers have no way to fine-tune their apps so that they behave differently (and better!) when Stage Manager is active. This part about JIT is also worth calling out:

Just-in-time compilation is essential to power things like web browsers, console and PC emulators, and language-based virtual machines. It is used by Apple’s own apps, like Playgrounds, to empower key functionality that no third party app can match. And it is provided in a very limited way (with a ton of asterisks) to Alternative Web Browsers in the EU under the DMA, so they can implement their own JavaScript engines. The DolphiniOS project, which emulates Nintendo’s GameCube, recently posted a video that perfectly encapsulates the problem and demonstrates why emulators for newer consoles just can’t come to iPadOS. Other app stores, like Microsoft’s Windows Store, offer a JIT entitlement as standard, and I think Apple should, too.

It’s not like JIT cannot exist on iPadOS; it’s that Apple has chosen not to offer it as an entitlement for third-party developers.

I also want to point out two more aspects of Steve’s manifesto. It’s almost a 1:1 match of a story he wrote for us in 2019, which is quite sad as it tells you a lot about iPadOS’ state of affairs. Five years later, and we’re still asking for the same changes. Additionally, it should be noted that Steve is not asking for Apple to call it a day and put macOS on iPad. Claiming that someone who criticizes iPadOS does so because “they just want the iPad to turn into a Mac” has become the de rigueur dismissal for some reply guys these days, and it completely misses the point.

I highly recommend reading Steve’s full story here.

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iPad Review Roundup: Cutting Edge Hardware and OS Frustrations

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Late yesterday, iPad Air and Pro reviews were published, and I spent the evening reading and watching many of them, so I thought I’d share some highlights.

At Six Colors, Jason Snell, who has used and reviewed iPads for years, brings an excellent perspective to Apple’s latest iPad Pro. Like Federico, Jason is impressed with the iPad Pro’s hardware but frustrated by iPadOS:

This all leaves 2024’s modern iPad Pro in a very familiar place: It is a remarkable piece of hardware that can handle pretty much any task it’s capable of executing without breaking a sweat, and thanks to its new display, it’ll look great doing it. But it’s let down by iPadOS limitations (and more than a decade of slow-paced iPad development) that preclude it from being the shining star of Apple’s productivity line-up that it should probably be.

Also, like other reviewers, the iPad Pro’s new OLED screen was a highlight for Jason:

As a longtime user of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I’ve been spoiled the last few years by its Liquid Retina XDR display. It was good, but it added weight and thickness, and even its 2500 individual dimming zones couldn’t match the precision that an OLED display can bring. Apple has outdone itself with the new Ultra Retina XDR display, powered by a tandem OLED panel that offers dramatic contrasts and bright colors.

David Pierce strikes a similar note at The Verge:

This new iPad Pro feels, in many ways, like the finale of the 14-year history of the iPad, all the pieces finally in place. It also feels, as ever, like a futuristic device plagued by software stuck firmly in the past, one I’m not sure I’d recommend to most people.

I do love it, though.

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Not an iPad Pro Review: Why iPadOS Still Doesn’t Get the Basics Right

Let me cut to the chase: sadly, I don’t have a new iPad Pro to review today on MacStories.

I was able to try one in London last week, and, as I wrote, I came away impressed with the hardware. However, I didn’t get a chance to use a new iPad Pro over the past six days ahead of today’s review embargo.

I know that many of you were expecting a deeper look at the iPad Pro on MacStories this week, but that will have to come later. I still plan on upgrading to a 13” iPad Pro myself; I’ve decided I want to return to the larger size after a few months with the 11” iPad Pro. If you’re interested in checking out reviews of the new iPad Pros from heavy iPad users like yours truly right now, I highly recommend reading and watching what my friends Jason Snell and Chris Lawley have prepared.

Still, as I was thinking about my usage of the iPad and why I enjoy using the device so much despite its limitations, I realized that I have never actually written about all of those “limitations” in a single, comprehensive article. In our community, we often hear about the issues of iPadOS and the obstacles people like me run into when working on the platform, but I’ve been guilty in the past of taking context for granted and assuming that you, dear reader, also know precisely what I’m talking about.

Today, I will rectify that. Instead of reviewing the new iPad Pro, I took the time to put together a list of all the common problems I’ve run into over the past…checks notes12 years of working on the iPad, before its operating system was even called iPadOS.

My goal with this story was threefold. First, as I’ve said multiple times, I love my iPad and want the platform to get better. If you care about something or someone, sometimes you have to tell them what’s wrong in order to improve and find a new path forward. I hope this story can serve as a reference for those with the power to steer iPadOS in a different direction in the future.

Second, lately I’ve seen some people argue on Mastodon and Threads that folks who criticize iPadOS do so because their ultimate goal is to have macOS on iPads, and I wanted to clarify this misunderstanding. While I’m on the record as thinking that a hybrid macOS/iPadOS environment would be terrific (I know, because I use it), that is not the point. The reality is that, regardless of whether macOS runs on iPads or not, iPadOS is the ideal OS for touch interactions. But it still gets many basic computing features wrong, and there is plenty of low-hanging fruit for Apple to pick. We don’t need to talk about macOS to cover these issues.

Lastly, I wanted to provide readers with the necessary context to understand what I mean when I mention the limitations of iPadOS. My iPad setup and workflow have changed enough times over the years that I think some of you may have lost track of the issues I (and others) have been experiencing. This article is a chance to collect them all in one place.

Let’s dive in.

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MacStories Unwind: Federico Visits Medium Ben

This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico and I discuss how Apple crushed it at its iPad event, and Federico lets loose in London.



Crushing It

Federico Lets Loose in London

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Apple Apologizes for Crush! Video

On Tuesday, Apple introduced its new iPad Pros with a video called Crush! that was meant to convey how much the device can do. The trouble was the way the video delivered the message, depicting musical instruments, books, a record player, paints, a TV, and many other creative tools being crushed by a hydraulic press. When the press opened, it revealed the new iPad Pro.

Crush! was widely criticized by the creative community, including actor Hugh Grant, director Reed Morano, and many others. Within hours, the story had spread beyond the tech industry to all corners of the mainstream media.

Today, as reported by The Verge, Apple vice president of marketing Tor Myhren made a statement to Ad Age, apologizing for the video saying:

Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world. Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.

Earlier today, Federico and I covered the firestorm caused by the video on MacStories Unwind+ for Club MacStories members. During the episode, which will be generally available tomorrow, Federico predicted this outcome, which I think is the right move given the widespread strong reaction to the video.


Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs Explains the iPad Pro’s Tandem OLED Screen and the M4 Chip

Tandem OLED display panels were new to me when Apple mentioned them during the “Let Loose” event yesterday. I figured it was another marketing term like Ultra Retina XDR, but it’s not.

As Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs explains in his excellent video, tandem OLED is a technology that stacks two OLED displays on top of each other, creating more light, greater electrical efficiency, and longer-lasting displays. The catch is that tandem OLED displays are hard to make without losing a lot of the light they generate. There have been multiple proposed solutions as Quinn explains, but it’s not clear how Apple has solved the issue with the new iPad Pros. What is clear, though, is that the technology is a big deal.

Quinn also explains the differences between TSMC’s 3-nanometer chip processes and why the M4 ‘…is a necessary strategic leap. It’s not a computational leap.’ The entire video is worth watching a couple of times to understand the nerdiest bits and why they hold so much promise for Apple’s future hardware releases.

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Apple’s May 2024 Let Loose Event: All The Small Things

Apple’s presentation moved fast yesterday, and since the event concluded, more details have emerged about everything announced. We’ve been combing Apple’s product pages, social media, and other sources to learn more about everything announced, which we’ve collected below:

  • Chance Miller of 9to5Mac, reporting based on a memo sent to Apple Store employees that Apple will no longer include stickers in the boxes with the iPads introduced yesterday. Instead, retail stores will have a small number of stickers on hand for customers who ask for them.
  • One of the first things I noticed in yesterday’s video presentation was that Tim Cook’s shoes were different somehow. The detail wasn’t enough to identify them from the streamed video, but it turns out that they were Nike Air Max 1 ‘86’s that were ‘Made on iPad,’ which was embroidered on the tongue of the shoes. Apple has published a Reel on Instagram showing the shoes sketched on an iPad.
  • MacRumors reports that the new iPad Pros support lower refresh rates but not the iPhone Pro’s always-on feature. Nonetheless, the lower refresh rate support should help the iPad Pros extend battery life depending on how the iPad is used.
  • As I first learned from MKBHD’s iPad Pro first impressions video, the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro includes a 60W USB-C charging port, which is a significant increase from the previous model.
  • As Dan Moren explained on Six Colors, Apple appears to be binning the M4 chips in the new iPad Pro models with the 1TB and 2TB storage tiers sporting an additional performance core.
  • The Verge reported that the new iPads have eliminated physical SIM cards in favor of eSIMs, which is likely a space-saving measure.

You can follow all of our May 2024 Apple event coverage through our May 2024 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated May 2024 Apple event RSS feed.


Thoughts and First Impressions on the New iPad Pros from Apple’s Event in London

The new 13" iPad Pro.

The new 13” iPad Pro.

I just came back to my hotel from the media event Apple held earlier today in London at their Battersea Power Station headquarters. I had high expectations for the new generation of iPad Pros that Apple unveiled today – some of which were exceeded by reality (hardware), and others that were, regrettably but unsurprisingly, faced with the reality of the iPad platform (software).

What follows is a loose collection of notes and impressions from the event, where I was able to try both iPad Pro models multiple times and spend some quality time with their accessories.

Let’s dive in.

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