This week Apple opened preorders for the iPad Pro, and surprisingly had them in the Apple Store for pickup. I showed up at the store right after it opened and in short order had the big iPad in my anxious hands.
As I always do with new Apple purchases I set it up in the store to make sure the unit was in proper order. This passed quickly except getting the LTE activated on Verizon. After a half hour with a Verizon tech on the phone and an Apple rep by my side it was determined that the universal Apple nanoSIM that ships in the iPad Pro does not work on Verizon.
This surprised the Apple folk but not the Verizon tech who expected this. After the Apple rep installed a Verizon-specific SIM the iPad Pro activated properly and was up in minutes. The lesson learned is that those planning on using the iPad Pro on the Verizon LTE network should insist Apple give you a Verizon SIM before leaving the store.
Now that I've had two days using the iPad Pro for work, my impression is highly favorable. I've used iPads for years for my work so I had no doubt the Pro would handle my needs. What I wasn't prepared for is how well it would do that.
What I've experienced in my work has been phenomenal. I get more writing done faster when I sit down at the iPad Pro than with any other system I've used. My work sessions are shorter as a result.
I recently wrote that I expected the large display of the iPad Pro would be great for using Split View, and that prediction is accurate. I find I have two apps onscreen at once most of the time during the work day and it is far more useful on the big display than on the smaller iPad Air 2.
It's almost like having two iPad Airs side-by-side due to the ability to see more information at once on the iPad Pro. There is none of the constant zooming I did on the smaller iPads, I can read everything out of the box. Given the aspect ratio of the iPad Pro, the display is taller than laptops which displays longer pages and more information at once.
The improved operation of multitasking isn't just due to the larger display, it's also because app developers are doing a good job supporting both Split View and SlideOver in iOS 9. This works well as having 4GB of system memory means leaving an app and returning later often requires no reloading of data, which is a big speed gain over previous iPads.
Given the way I work, most of my work day has a browser -- usually Safari although Chrome fully supports Split View -- on the left half of the screen, and Evernote on the right. I use Evernote as my editor when writing and it is so productive to do online research on the left and writing on the right. The large screen makes it all work well, along with the fast performance of the iPad Pro.
Microsoft Office supports Split View nicely and it's productive having Word, Excel, or PowerPoint onscreen with one of the other two. It's easy moving back and forth between them, and copying data from one to the other is a great use of the iPad Pro.
One notable exception to supporting the iPad Pro is the Gmail app. It is apparently confused about the higher resolution of the new iPad and Gmail only displays one column, much like that on the iPhone. It's a waste of screen real estate and hopefully Google will update this soon.
As for performance, the new processor and graphics support in the iPad Pro make this tablet a real screamer. Everything I do happens instantly, especially two window support. There is no lag, no frustration as often happens on laptops and older iPads. The iPad Pro responds instantly no matter the task.
Battery life is really good on the iPad Pro. I haven't run any benchmarks as I prefer real-world experience, and with hours of heavy use I still have lots of juice in the tank at the end of the day. I have noticed that the big iPad charges more slowly than earlier models, so I just charge it overnight.
The keyboard is making my work routine better, too. While I've long used keyboards with smaller iPads, having a keyboard that is full size is a boon to my work. I have written thousands of words on the iPad Pro with the Logi CREATE Keyboard in two days and it's been wonderful.
Hint: To quickly switch apps using a physical keyboard with the iPad, hold down the CMD key and tap the TAB key. A ribbon of apps appears -- most recently used apps on the left -- and you keep tapping the TAB key to move one app at a time to the right. When you get to the app you want release both keys and your desired app instantly pops up on the screen.
Hint 2: On the home screen hold down the CMD key on the keyboard and a popup with three key shortcuts appears. These include my first hint along with a shortcut to return to the Home screen and one to perform a search.
I have an Apple Smart Keyboard on the way so I haven't tried it yet. It doesn't have regular keys so I'm not sure I will like it as much as the Logitech keyboard I'm using. I'll see when I get the model from Apple.
The combination of fast operation, a good keyboard, and the bigger display has improved my work experience tremendously. I find I not only get more done than I did with other devices, I do that while giving little thought to the apps and system. I am able to fully concentrate on the task and that is a big change in my routine.
I open the iPad Pro and set it on the keyboard's Smart Connector, and I'm working full speed in seconds. The improvement in my routine is remarkable given how fast it's happened, and it is already a game changer for me.
I knew I'd be impressed with the iPad Pro as part of "new gadget syndrome" and while that's part of it, the positive impact it's already made on my daily work routine is very real.
The ongoing discussion on the web of whether the iPad Pro is a laptop replacement is silly. There are too many factors at play that prevent this from happening for everyone. Many users need apps only on laptops and that will never change.
Others who work better in mobile apps, and I am in that camp, can easily use an iPad Pro instead of a laptop. As I am doing now.