Darren

iPad Pro, will it change how creatives use iPad?

Apple recently introduced the new iPad Pro to the world. Some could be cynical and say it is just a bigger iPad, not far off how they welcomed the original iPad "it's just a big iPhone". But much like how the iPad revolutionised portable computing, we think the iPad Pro could change the way creatives work.

Artist drawing on an iPad Pro
The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil could one day become an essential part of the designer's toolkit

The Apple Pencil

Yes, it has a bigger screen and a Microsoft Surface "Inspired" keyboard case - and these things might, along with iOS9 multitasking features help Apple push further into their "Post PC" era and increase the iPad adoption in enterprise - however I am mainly going to concentrate on one thing... the Apple Pencil.

"Who wants a stylus? You have to get 'em, put 'em away, you lose 'em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. So let's not use a stylus."

Now, let's get this out of the way right at the start. When Steve Jobs famously stated that using a stylus was ridiculous and how much they suck - he was talking about using a stylus on a tiny mobile phone screen. Poking a tiny badly designed button on a tiny screen with a stick made on plastic is crap - he was right.

However, using a stylus (or stick shaped object) for the act of drawing and being creative do not suck. It has been done for thousands of years and will continue for thousands more - people will always be creative, it is part of what makes us human.

This is true even in the digital world, I have been using a Wacom tablet and pen in various guises for well over 10 years for all things creative. The thought of trying to create websites, apps, illustrations, photo retouches using either a mouse or my finger on a touch screen just seems "clunky"... you need precision, you need a stylus.

This is why I think that the iPad Pro with it's Apple Pencil is such an interesting partnership. I think it could potentially change the way I work in the future.

Here is my current workspace setup:

Artist drawing on an iPad Pro
Could my current setup be reduced with a future more powerful iPad Pro?

I have a large Apple Display, wireless keyboard, trackpad and a Wacom Bamboo tablet. It is all powered by my MacBook Pro - a fairly typical setup for a digital designer I think.

Here is the thing, Phil Schiller told us all that the iPad Pro will be faster than 80% of the portable PCs that have shipped in the last 12 months, despite running Apple’s A9X mobile processor.
I am not saying that it could replace my trusty MacBook Pro just yet, but at the rate computing power is improving - I don't think it will be too long. That is where it gets interesting.

My current setup allows me to us the stylus to create my designs on the larger display - the bigger the display the better. Away from the office, if I am on the ball enough to remember the Wacom I can still work ok - just a bit more restricted on the smaller screen and the tablet is bulky when sitting on a train or the sofa, you ideally need a flat solid surface. If I forget the Wacom I have to resort to the touchpad on the Macbook.... things can get done but it's a pain in the arse.

This got me thinking about the potential of the iPad Pro when it is as powerful as the MacBook Pro.... I think it could be great. Could I replace the Macbook with a future iPad Pro? Could I actually do away with the Wacom tablet too?...
Whilst away from the office I can get on just fine using the Apple Pencil in place of the Wacom, working directly on the screen. Aside from the future iPad Pro needing to be powerful enough, it would also require app developers to get the apps I need onto it - I'm talking about you Sketch, and Webflow (amongst others).
What about back in the office? Well I can see no reason why an iPad Pro in the future couldn't potentially connect with a larger display so I can work in even more detail. 
Also, I know that in the initial introduction videos and photography it shows people using the Apple Pencil to directly manipulate elements on the screen of the iPad Pro - however, with lovely app developers in the world like Gourmet Pixel - why not create an app that allows you to use the iPad Pro as a tablet like input device whilst displaying the content on a larger display?

That would be a great setup, I am not sure I will be upgrading to an iPad Pro just yet - but if it can start to improve my creative workflow in the kind of ways I have mentioned then I will be all over it like a fart in a spacesuit.

Artist drawing on an iPad Pro
If anything, it looks nicer - less cables and mess :-)