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iPad Pro becomes more Mac-like with standalone accessory updates

Apple's iPad Pro looks to gain more standalone features so you ditch your Mac in a recent update to the beta version of iOS.

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ZDNET: James Kendrick

The new beta version of iOS 9.3 released on Wednesday includes the ability to update the firmware of accessories and devices attached to the iPad Pro's Smart Connector without having to plug into a Mac, like in the past.

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Developer Stefan Wolfrum reported in a tweet, spotted by MacRumors, the firmware on his Logitech Create keyboard could simply be updated with a few touches through the iPad Pro's software. This highlights Apple's pursuit to make the 12.9-inch iPad Pro a standalone device that will replace laptops.

"Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people," Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said on the company's earnings call earlier this week. "They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones."

It's not clear if the accessory firmware update was found in the iOS 9.3 software or whether iOS pinged a server to download the update before applying it.

The iPad Pro is touted by Apple as adding "another dimension" to the iPad experience, not just as a larger iPad but because it has content creation tools through the Smart Connector that will help consumers ditch the traditional laptop and move to a larger tablet.

If the accessory updating functionality is included in a consumer version of iOS 9.3, it means the iPad Pro will not only let users set up their iPads, but also update iOS software, apps, and now accessories, without ever having to plug into a Mac.

The iOS 9.3 beta is currently only available to registered developers through the Apple Developer Center. It's not confirmed when it will be released, however it's said to bring a Night Shift mode to change the screen brightness of your device at night, along with improving Apple's existing apps, including Notes, Apple News, Health, CarPlay, and more.