For a new generation of iPad, Apple would normally have invited to California for a big presentation. With the new iPad Pro, a video had to be enough. Can the device also convince in practice?
Apple has its own experience with product presentations in difficult times of crisis. When Steve Jobs launched the first iPod on October 23, 2001, the world was still shocked by the 9/11 attacks. However, the difficult circumstances did not prevent the MP3 player from winning. In no time, he became a solid foundation of Apple’s new music empire.
Now Apple is introducing generation four of its iPad Pro in the middle of the corona crisis. It should be more than just a tablet computer. The first external distinguishing feature of the two new Pro models with 11-inch or 12.9-inch screens is the new camera system.
It consists of a wide-angle lens (12 megapixels, ƒ / 1.8 aperture) and an ultra-wide-angle lens (10 megapixels, ƒ / 2.4 aperture). This enables video recordings in 4K resolution (3,840 to 2,160 pixels) at 60 frames per second. The new iPad Pro does not offer a real optical zoom like the iPhone 11 Pro due to the lack of a telephoto lens.
A special sensor for special tasks
But one thing is really new: A LiDAR scanner on the back, which even the best iPhone has not had. LiDAR (“Light Detection and Ranging”) is a radar-related method for optical distance and speed measurement. They are known from autonomously driving cars, space travel or robotic vacuum cleaners. The iPad Pro models can use it to capture the surroundings.
The complex measurement technology is intended to improve the accuracy and speed of augmented reality (AR) applications. If the iPad can capture its surroundings more precisely, virtual objects in the room simply look more realistic – for example with the AR apps of furniture stores like Ikea, so that you can get an idea of how an armchair or a lamp in the room before you buy empty living room will look like later.
It works impressively well in the test. With the previous pure camera technology, it always happened that the AR objects hovered slightly above the floor, somewhat out of touch with reality. Technology has potential: interior designers or craftsmen could soon discover such a tablet as a standard tool.
The new AR skills will also delight the gamer community. Apple had the game “Hot Lava” demonstrated on the iPad presentation. The real game environment in the living room is flooded with a virtual lava flow. With skill and speed, players have to let their characters jump from the TV table and the stool to the sofa so that they do not sink into the scorching hot lava in between.
Plenty of processor power with the A12Z
So that not only a precise positioning in the room succeeds, but also graphics-intensive games like “Hot Lava” run smoothly, the new iPad Pro has a chip called A12Z. Together with an eight-core graphics processor, it should deliver significantly more power than the A10X and A12X chip of the previous iPad Pro. The difference in processor power is hardly noticeable in everyday life because the two-year-old iPad Pro has hardly been used to date.
With the trackpad function, Apple closes the gap between tablets and notebooks enormously. When you move your finger over a paired trackpad, the pointer changes to highlight elements of the user interface. The function therefore conjures up a cursor on the screen not only in text documents. A small round circle in the app overview shows where the virtual fingertip is currently located.
By May there will also be a new version of an iPad keyboard from Apple (“Magic Keyboard”) with a built-in trackpad. Accessory manufacturer Logitech has also announced a combination of protective cover and keyboard for the iPad pro. Visually, the iPad Pro is very close to the laptop.
Noticeably better working with texts and tables
And the increase in comfort is noticeable. Editing texts or spreadsheets is much easier with a mouse or trackpad. For many knowledge workers, this could make it unnecessary to buy a classic laptop. Especially since more and more special programs such as a client for SAP’s financial and ERP systems for iPad OS are becoming available.
You don’t even need the latest generation of iPad Pro hardware to benefit from the new trackpad control. As of iOS version 13.4, the previous generation also supports finger swipes on the trackpad. So you can use the iPad fully with certain finger gestures without having to touch the screen. This is particularly useful when you have the tablet in front of you like a laptop.
An example: If you swipe up with three fingers, you get to the start page. A three-finger swivel upwards calls up the app switcher, with which you can switch between different programs. And a right click is triggered on the trackpad with a click of two fingers.
With this development, the iPad comes closer to the concept of Windows tablets, as it is most prominently represented by Microsoft with the Surface Pro 7. However, there is no selection of high-quality AR apps available for the owners of an iPad Pro for the Windows device.
The new iPad Pro is available with an 11-inch display and newly doubled entry memory of 128 gigabytes from 879 euros. The larger 12.9-inch version starts at 1,099 euros.
For LTE radio, a steep surcharge of 170 euros is due. Doubling the memory to 256 GB costs 110 euros more, 512 GB costs an additional 330 euros and 1 terabyte 550 euros extra.