In using the iPad Pro over the past week, it’s clear it’s different in kind, not just degree, from both other tablets and Mac laptops. This means that in order to fully realize its potential, developers can’t treat the Pro as merely a big iPad. However, the responsibility is on Apple and ultimately, Cook to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s not enough to just talk about all the wondrous things an iPad Pro might do, Apple needs to actively work to make them a reality. Here’s what it must do.
The challenge is similar to that faced by the original iPad over five years ago. Many, myself included, initially saw the device as just a big iPod Touch: nice, but hardly revolutionary. Only after using it for a while and experiencing apps that took advantage its speed and generous screen area did it become apparent that the iPad actually represented something new. Yet success wasn’t a given. Had users been forced to live with upscaled, screen-wasting and pixelated iPhone apps, the iPad would surely have died after a couple iterations. Indeed, this situation still plagues Android tablets where too few apps are optimized for the larger screen leaving potential buyers seeing no compelling advantage over a phone. The iPad Pro faces the same app gap.
In this column, I detail the shortcomings, which are mostly in software and thus easily fixed, but conclude that the iPad Pro is closer than some detractors admit to being a work machine for the masses. The most pressing issue is to aggressively encourage and incentivize developers to add full multitasking support, particularly for iOS 9 Split View, to all iPad apps. I also believe Apple should encourage an ecosystem of Pencil-like styli. The bigger problem, which will take both a change in executive mindset and more engineering, is adding support for mouse cursors and trackpads to iOS. The touchscreen interface is just too inefficient when using a keyboard.
As the column explains, with a few evolutionary tweaks, it has the potential to push more people into an utterly post-PC existence and fulfill the vision of a new platform for a new generation of professionals and their apps.