The 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and Magic Trackpad peripherals.
The 2020 iPad Pro's camera and sensor array contains two lenses and a lidar sensor.
It's still as thin as it was before, but that camera bump is a change.
The design hasn't changed at all beyond this camera bump.
Here is the back.
Rumors have it that a new iPad Pro is just around the corner, which means Apple will soon be taking another giant leap for the iPad as a productivity and content creation device.
Although we found in our iPadOS reviews that Apple did an excellent job with the major changes to the operating system aimed at making it truly work-friendly, there are still a number of minor nuisances or "no you can". t do that "restrictions that sabotage Apple's intentions.
For this reason, it makes sense to prevent this upcoming marketing push with a few important caveats – especially since Apple is unlikely to announce a major iPadOS software update along with new hardware in March. Significant new operating system changes are not likely to be discussed until the company's June developer conference, and these updates are not likely to be released until September or October.
Most of these are tiny problems, but they add up. iPads won't be a true laptop replacement for everyone until most of these issues are resolved.
Webcams and multitasking
In current computer use cases, it won't be long before you notice this: the front-facing camera on the iPad turns off when you swipe away from the app that is using it, including zoom. Reviewers have brought this up time and again when reviewing the latest iPads – us included. But 12 iPadOS updates later, it's still an issue.
Granted, some apps show your camera view in a small picture-in-picture window on top of other apps when you switch between spaces. But you don't always want to see that – screen real estate is a high priority on iPads – and not every app does this.
If third-party apps don't support picture-in-picture, Apple needs to find a way to encourage them to do so. But even better: allow users to enable background video recording per app in the settings.
Lots of people these days spend a lot of time video calling for obvious reasons. It would be great if Apple's flagship product, the mainstream dedicated computer product, actually did that well.
Audio source management
Obviously the iPad supports background audio. Apps like Apple Music or Spotify can play in the background, as can some (but not all) video apps. The problem is that it is all too easy for the currently active app to mute the one in the background as it normally cannot play two audio sources at the same time.
Apps like Twitch will continue to play videos when you switch to another app, and they will continue to play audio as well.
You can minimize them to the side for a better view while still listening to audio.
For example, if you are watching a Twitch stream in the background but an auto-playing video with audio is displayed on a web page, your Twitch stream will stop. You'll need to stop the video on the web and then come back to the Twitch app to start it again. And sometimes websites or apps will take over your audio even if they don't seem to be producing any sound at the moment.
At least in this case, the iPad should either not stop the first audio source or at least continue playing the elements played in the background as soon as the new audio source is started. The ideal situation, however, would be a panel for managing multiple audio sources at the same time via app, including their levels.
When Apple first announced that the iPad Pro could work with external monitors via USB-C, as part of a general pitch of the Pro as a high-performance device for productivity and content creation, many users expected something very different from what they wanted .
Yes, you can connect your iPad Pro to an external USB-C monitor. Usually, however, only the iPad display is mirrored. It doesn't give you any more room for apps and it doesn't even take on the aspect ratio of the screen you're sending the picture to.
There are a very small number of iPad apps like iMovie that allow you to use the external monitor a little differently. However, the vast majority don't, making the external monitor support on the Apple tablet essentially unusable.
The limitations of the USB-C port
The switch from Lightning to USB-C in recent iPads is to be welcomed, even if some people have had to buy new cables. The ecosystem of USB-C accessories – like external storage devices, monitors, music production tools, etc. – is quite robust compared to Lightning.
Enlarge /. The iPad Pro has USB-C instead of Lightning as the only port.
So we're not knocking on USB-C here. We're knocking on how many USB-C ports there are. The iPad Pro only has one, and all too often it doesn't work well with external USB-C hubs that you typically use with a Mac. Users complain of constant interruptions and inconsistent behavior. Some hubs don't work at all.
If Apple can't rely on other companies like CalDigit to do this well, and if it really has to insist on not adding at least one more port, it has to share its own USB-C dock that is guaranteed to work smoothly with the iPad .
It certainly didn't help that Apple removed the headphone jack from recent iPads. Some of the advertising for the iPad Pro has been focused on music production, but good luck producing music if you can't just plug in an instrument and headphones at the same time.
You need a dongle that is expensive and cumbersome, and many of them don't work well.
Per app support
Of course, a computer is only as good as the apps it can run. While the iPad has many great apps for content consumption, productivity, and creativity, there is a significant gap between iPadOS and macOS or Windows for users of apps that are popular in certain professional contexts.
And not just from third parties. Apple's own Final Cut, Logic, and Xcode are not available on the iPad. There aren't many great options from other companies either. Yes, Adobe has been working on pretty robust versions of Photoshop and Illustrator for the iPad, but we haven't heard a word about Premiere, for example.
Numerous popular pro apps from other companies are also not available. There is no Maya, no Blender, no Unity, no Visual Studio. There is an AutoCAD app, but it works minimally compared to the desktop version.
If Apple is to continue to label the iPad as a device for professional content creators, it will have to convince these third parties to bring out more functional iPad apps. And it is just as important that it has to adapt its own software for the device.
How likely are we to see these changes?
For years, Apple has moved further away from the idea of providing more ports, big features, and so on – especially on mobile devices like the iPad. In the past, we didn't expect most of these things to actually happen.
The world of Apple devices looks a lot different, however, following reliable reports that new MacBook Pro laptops will include SD cards or HDMI ports later this year. Apple seems to be changing course to better convince high-end customers and certain pro-use case customers. At least for the Mac.
The company has moved aggressively in other ways on the iPad as well, at least in terms of software – just maybe not as fast as everyone would like. It seems plausible to us that multitasking problems (such as with webcams and audio sources) can be fixed in the future. And never say anything about iPad versions of Logic or Final Cut at this point.
We're less optimistic about the idea of a multiport iPad Pro, however, and there is only so much that Apple can do to get third parties to make more robust apps for the platform.
Apple is expected to introduce a new iPad Pro before the end of March. So we're going to give a hint of what's to come soon enough.
Listing image by Samuel Axon