Tag Archives: ipad pro 9.7

iPad Pro in the Enterprise: 9.7 observations after 9.7 weeks

I’ve owned the iPad Pro for around 9.7 weeks now (nearer to 12 weeks, but whatever 🙂 ), and one of my co-workers asked me if I still love it. It seemed like it would be a good time to write a mid-term review, so here’s ten observations.

1) It’s a scalpel, not a Swiss Army Knife

The iPad Pro has a very specific use case for me, and I don’t find it’s a general purpose device like my MacBook Pro. For instance, it excels on a day like today, where I have a 3.5h journey each way to a 2h meeting. I’ll be back home within 8h, and I want to travel light.

Out comes the iPad Pro, which fits in a tiny bag which my coworkers call a Murse and my other half calls a Purse. Still, it flies through security and the only other things in it are a few business cards, a spare battery for my iPhone, wallet, and keys.

2) It’s great for times you don’t want a laptop

Unlike previous iPads, the iPad Pro is fully functional enough to use for 90% of my tasks. I’m going on vacation at the end of July, and I definitely will not be taking a laptop with me, and I won’t miss it. The iPad Pro is just as good for browsing, email and chat, and much better for books and movies.

What’s more, when I’m at home on the sofa, or on vacation, it’s a much less intrusive device: I can get a few emails done without intruding on our personal time.

3) It’s not at all oversold

My memories of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 were marred by the fact that the sales literature was total BS, and it didn’t live up to the promises, especially on battery life. I don’t know if the iPad Pro meets the battery claims to the minute, but I can tell you that even with a very tough day, I have battery left at the end. There is absolutely no need to bring an additional charger for a day trip. The keyboard is better than I expected for a compact keyboard and I get 70-80% of my laptop typing speed.

The performance stats claim it’s as fast as a Mac or and iPad Pro, and I feel that might be stretching it, but I never really run out of steam.

4) It has the best screen, ever

I have to specifically call out the screen. I can go and lie in the sun and read a book, and it is plenty bright enough (and the battery will still last a day). The person next to me right now is using an iPad 3, and it’s like night and day. The iPad 3 is dull and hard to read.

5) Optimized apps are good…

I had a revelation the other day when using the eBay app to sell a few items: apps designed for the iPad Pro can be flawless. You use the keyboard to type the description, use the camera, which is as good as a compact camera, to snap photos of the items directly within the app, and post. You can post an item end-end in just a few minutes without transferring pictures a between devices or tapping on a screen.

6) … And can be even better

eBay is an example of an app that has it just right… But there aren’t enough of these yet. The WordPress app that I’m using right now has not been optimized for the iPad Pro, which is a shame, because WordPress is a perfect use case for the iPad Pro. Medium have done a slightly better job.

This gets better all the time, and Microsoft have done a great job with the Office suite, which also integrates with Dropbox on the iPad for an immersive user experience that allows access to all your business files on Dropbox. It also works with Two Factor Authentication (2FA), which is critical to me.

7) It’s not a laptop replacement

I’m very happy with the iPad Pro’s place in my life, but it’s not a laptop replacement. I do however find my laptop spends more of its time on my desk, where I do things like prepare forecasts, presentations, business plans, CRM and analytics. The iPad Pro doesn’t shine when you need to move quickly between multiple apps, copy and pasting data and doing complex functions.

8) Security appears excellent

With a mix of our primary bussiness cloud-based software like Office 365, Dropbox and Slack, all of which support two factor authentication (2FA), and the Touch ID on the iPad Pro, combined with a very complex passcode and Find My iPad, I feel very confident that the iPad provides great security on the move.

If someone steals it, I can find it, they won’t be able to get into it, and it is easily remote wiped, and the apps are easily disabled. Nothing is perfect, but Apple’s attitude towards security with the recent FBI hacks makes me feel very comfortable that customers trusting their confidential information with me are safe.

9) It’s the perfect device on the move

A few things add up to this. First, the on-board LTE and SIM mean that it’s always on. No need to teteher to an iPhone or WiFi hotspot, no messing around. Just pull it open, and it’s always ready for you within a few seconds.

Second, it’s very compact and… TSA compliant. You don’t have to take it out your bag at security checkpoints in the US, and you can use it on planes during take off and approach – both from an airline perspective, and from a space/usability perspective.

Final Words

I really love my iPad Pro. Do I use it every day? No. But that’s not really the point of it. It’s a scalpel, not a Swiss Army Knife, after all. And it’s one of the few devices you could use to write and finish a blog like this on a 45 minute flight.

Even a few months in, I still struggle with the cost, but since there’s nothing like it, I had better stop complaining about that!

The search for a companion device: Apple iPad Air 9.7″

You may have been following my series of blog posts, in search of an excellent companion device, which last finished up with my returning my Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Since January, I’ve been back to using my 2012 MacBook Pro 15″ as my only device, and it’s still going strong.

I believe that Apple will release an extraordinary replacement to the MacBook Pro this year – a laptop which will shake up the industry once again. It will have been 4 years in the making.

That said, a lot of the time, I’m left finding that I don’t need that much of a machine. When Apple released the 13″ iPad Air, I took a close look, and it’s quite an amazing device… But I don’t get it. Just last week, I saw the passenger next to me on a flight using one, and it has a spectacular screen. He didn’t have the keyboard, but was happily tapping around – watching a movie, whilst doing some email and reading the Wall Street Journal in full size. Some while later into the flight, he extracted a MacBook Air from his bag.

I asked what he thought to owning both the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air, what with them having similar form factors, and he responded that one was a personal device and one was business, and he then conceded that they were basically the same weight and size and do the same thing. I think I’ll pass on that.

So when Apple released the 9.7″ iPad Air, I sat up. Now it’s true that the smaller sister of the 13″ iPad doesn’t have the same power – it’s got a slower CPU and Graphics… But it makes up for that with a spectacular true-tone screen which is easier on the eyes and antireflective. The keyboard is a little cramped – reminiscent of the Netbooks from the mid-2000s, rather than a full sized laptop.

Finding the 9.7″ keyboard was difficult due to stock availability, but some careful browsing of Apple’s website found one that was a short drive away, so I ordered online for in-store pickup. Apple make spending your money a very frictionless process, using your existing Apple ID and credit card.

The Price

As someone who regularly has to clean space out of a base MacBook Pro, I’m wary of buying the base Apple device, so I upgraded to the 128GB version, and to the Cellular variant. This sets you back a pretty $879, before you start adding accessories.

Add the Smart Keyboard ($149), Pencil ($99) and AppleCare+ ($99), and not to mention sales tax ($85) and you’re up to a mind boggling $1310. You can buy a base iPad Air for $399 now, or for $1300 you have the choice of a full-fat Surface Pro 4, or a Lenovo Yoga. Or a MacBook. We’re talking about serious money.

The Keyboard

In use, this thing is pretty nice. After a little while, the odd offset on the keyboard becomes second nature and the ZX-Spectrum style keys are surprisingly nimble. I’d say I’m around 80% of the speed of a great keyboard like the MacBook Pro. That’s an amazing achievement.

What’s more, the keyboard has context-sensitive shortcuts – just hold down the Apple cmd button, and it will tell you what it can do right now. You can tab between apps, create new emails, and many other things. Then there’s the fact that you can move up and down emails with the cursor keys: this is a device which allows you to move very quickly. I remember that, from the days of pairing an Apple Keyboard with an iPad. But by the time you’re carrying around an Apple Keyboard, you may as well take a laptop!

Note: the Apple Store employees are not well trained on the iPad Pro yet: I asked them a bunch of questions and they had no idea about how to pair the pencil, or use keyboard shortcuts, or how to activate the cellular option. I’m sure that will get fixed with time, but in the meantime, invest a few minutes learning about the iPad Pro online. There are productivity tips that will help a LOT.

The Mouse (or lack thereof)

I liked the trackpad on the Surface Pro 4, but it was not the best trackpad. Apple has chosen to forgo mediocrity, and in my view that has worked pretty well. The keyboard is so close to the screen that you can easily reach up to use it as a trackpad when you need it.

That said, I think they have some work to do on the shortcuts – cmd-D, for example, doesn’t return you to the home screen. You have to hit the home button, which is a serious First World Problem.

Likewise, I miss the wonderful Windows Hello, and pressing the home button with your thumb feels so… 2015.

The Apple Pencil

I’m in two minds with the Apple Pencil. It lacks the feel-good feeling of the Surface Pen, and doesn’t have a clip, so I’m constantly in fear of losing it. What’s more, it doesn’t attach anywhere to the iPad, so it’s just sort of floating around. In the Apple Store, they have little trays so they don’t get lost, and security guards to hunt you down if you try to lift one!

The charging is super-neat on it, just plug it into the iPad Lightning connector for 30 seconds.

The App ecosystem hasn’t yet caught up with the Apple Pencil, and I didn’t yet find a killer app for me. I’m not much of an artist, and if I was, the 13″ iPad Pro is a much better system, so this is around taking notes, sharing a screen Etc. On the Surface, there were some decent apps like OneNote, which had good support for the (free) Surface Pen. This is a lot to swallow for an additional $99,

In Use

I’m really impressed so far. The iOS Split Screen function means that I’m doing some research on Safari whilst writing this blog post; the lack of this capability was a key issue for earlier iPads.

What’s more, we use Dropbox and Office 365 as our productivity apps, and these integrate beautifully, so I can review proposals on the go. Dropbox really needs the ability to synchronize entire folders on the Pro, rather than individual files, but that will come in time.

It has the usual 10 hour battery life, which is awesome. Given that it has the same CPU performance as a Surface Pro 4 (which lasted 3… sometimes 4 hours), that’s fantastic.

Is it a laptop replacement?

Definitely not, and that’s not why I bought it. If you’re a business user and wanting to replace your laptop with a tablet, this is not the right device for you.

As I see it now, the iPad Pro will have a pretty specific set of use cases in my life:

First, it’s great for day trips and flights, where a smaller device is worth the trade-off for weight and convenience, plus it’s small enough to be used as a personal device during take-off and landing.

Second, it’s good enough to take as the primary device on vacation, and I’ll be really pleased not to be lugging my MacBook across the world and back.

Third, it’s a perfect machine for the weekend. I try to have a rule not to get my laptop out from Friday night until Monday morning, and this means I can type the occasional blog and do some browsing online.

Final Words

It’s early days, and I loved the Surface Pro 4 in the first few days too. I’m also really struggling with the price. There’s no way the iPad Pro has the functionality of a laptop, but it has the price tag of a laptop.

Apple has a 14-day return policy (be careful, this includes the day of purchase), so I don’t have long to decide if I love or hate it. I’m pondering making it my primary device for those two weeks, just to see what it’s capable of.