Interface and Functionality

We get enhanced multitasking, but it’s reserved to a few apps.

If the size of the iPad Pro is any indication, Apple is serious in its efforts to deliver an iPad capable of handling work and play together better than any tablet before it. Dimensions, however, are just one part of the equation in which software plays a key role as well. It is of importance to note that iOS 9, as capable as it may be, is not a replacement to a desktop-grade operating system. Therefore, treating the iPad Pro as a rival to a notebook or a hybrid computer isn't fair, as it cannot deliver the same level of productivity and availability of professional-grade software. On the tablet scene, however, there are few, (if any) offerings that come close to the iPad Pro in these categories.

Where Apple continues to do so well, even now, is in how iOS doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out – it’s simple, straightforward, and comes with no surprises. iOS 9 is no different here with the iPad Pro. Aside from the obvious fact that we’re given a larger canvas to work on, using the new tablet is akin to using an iPad Air 2 updated to the latest iOS 9 version.

Icons are arranged in their typical grid formation on the homescreen, but the sheer amount of extra ‘dead’ space in the UI makes it seem like it’s vastly underusing its potential. That, unfortunately, becomes more poignant as we take a look at many third-party apps. Popular ones like Twitter, for example, are flanked with so much dead space. On the flip side, others like Flipboard and Microsoft Word, take advantage of the extra space offered up by the iPad Pro. Of course, it’ll all come down to the developers updating the apps to make the iPad Pro more tangible, but in the meantime, it’s doing nothing more than just scaling up – and that’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Where Apple does make a notable improvement to iOS 9 is in how it now offers a compelling and enhanced multitasking aspect. Naturally, it carries over some useful multitasking gestures the iPad has offered for a long time now, like the 5-finger gestures to get into the app switcher or switching left/right between apps. But in addition, Apple introduces new features that give it more of a real desktop OS feel. They break down to the following categories below:

Slide Over

While in an app, we can access the Slide Over screen by swiping a finger towards the left from the right bezel. Essentially, this lets us open a second app at any time on top of the one we’re in. Even though apps in Slide Over occupy a small piece of the screen, 1/3 of it to be exact, it’s a genuinely different experience we haven’t seen in iOS to date. For all of its usefulness, however, its support is limited to the native apps and a few third party ones.

Split View

Using the Slide Over feature in landscape opens up the invitation to get into Split View, which essentially splits the screen operation down the middle and places two apps on either side. In this mode, we're presented with a closer to ideal representation of multitasking. Both apps are active and can be used simultaneously. Still, the limitation here, just like with Slide Over, is the fact that not every app is optimized for this.

Picture in Picture

The last element in iOS 9’s enhanced multitasking portfolio is Picture in Picture. As its name so happily implies, we can FaceTime or watch a video in a separate, shrunken down window – in a manner similar to how many Android devices have done for a long time now. This is nothing new in the world of tablets, but for the iPad Pro, it means being able to have two apps side by side with a video playing on top along the way.


Typing on the iPad Pro gets better, not only for the obvious reason of it having a larger display for us to work with, but also for the enhancements made to the keyboard. In particular, there are two-finger gestures that allow us to precisely place the cursor somewhere or highlight text. There’s even a new shortcut bar above the keyboard that provides quick access to functions such as bold, italicize, underline, and much more. Sure, we can connect a Bluetooth keyboard or even purchase the optional $169 Smart Keyboard made specifically for the iPad Pro, but the on-screen one is also an efficient and practical solution.

Apple Pencil

Apple offers an optional accessory dubbed the “Apple Pencil” to leverage the Retina Display in the iPad Pro. Making an analogy with a Microsoft Surface Pen and even a Samsung S Pen seems inevitable – all three are designed to sense varying degrees of pressure sensitivity to produce natural, fluid strokes when writing, painting, or sketching. However, Apple's offering is arguably the most advanced among the three. For those into drawing or sketching, the Apple Pencil is a valuable tool that give a higher degree of control and creativity. Its tip senses both pressure and angle, giving digital artists greater control over their work. At the same time, the stylus is much more precise than a finger, yet feels about as natural, with excellent responsiveness and virtually no latency, not to mention that its size makes us feel as if we're using a real pencil.

image credit: WinterCharm | Asymco

The support of Apple Pencil extends into a few iOS apps, like the Notes app, which instantly enables us to jot, annotate, and do some freehand sketching using the stylus. Clearly, this tool is a strong selling point for those who have a need for such control, such as graphics artists, but for the majority of folks, its $99 cost makes it an optional purchase – not a necessary one.

System Performance

Pound for pound, this is arguably one of the best spec’d tablets around, delivering that incredible performance.

The brains behind the new iPad Pro is the Apple A9X system chip, the company’s third-gen 64-bit chip with double the memory bandwidth, 2x faster storage, and is 1.8x faster than A8X. According to Apple, that makes the chip faster than 80% of the portable PCs shipped recently, while in terms of GPU, it is 90% faster than most portable PCs. Pair that with a record-breaking 4GB of RAM for an iOS device, it means less refreshing of apps when we leave and return back to them.

In practical terms, the iPad Pro runs extremely smooth with its performance, which should be of no shock considering Apple’s track record. Even taking advantage of its slit view and picture in picture features jointly, there’s no stutter to its performance as three separate apps are running simultaneously. For gamers, the iPad Pro is a juggernaut, not only for its excellent handling with the most demanding titles, but also for its generous screen that makes it easier on our eyes to enjoy the experience.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 63244
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 34940
Sunspider Lower is better
Apple iPad Pro 186.4
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 1048.1
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 59.4
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 13.8
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 3214
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 936
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 5417
Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 2736

Web browser

When you’re given such a generous canvas to work with, it generally translates to a rich web surfing experience. And with that, the iPad Pro does justice with its delightful package consisting of speedy page loads, smooth navigational controls, and plenty of room to enjoy web sites in their entirety. For once, too, we’re able to do something else entirely different while simultaneously surfing the web, as its new enhanced multitasking features are a long time in the making, but very much appreciated now that it’s here.



2. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

I dont see the use for this. Put a desktop version OS and make it a surface pro competitor.

6. Unordinary unregistered

Not for you but for many many artists...

30. DarkStar286

Posts: 229; Member since: Mar 18, 2014

So it's a tool designed for one profession? And even that profession can't use it fully as the professional tools aren't available on iOS yet. This really needs OSX on it to be a professional tool for anyone.

72. nodes

Posts: 1160; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

of course a tool is specified for one profession. just like a stethoscope to a doctor. it's rival is Wacom Cintiq, there are Youtube videos comparing the two, and it has Pros and Cons. $99 Pencil is cheap considering the features it has, Wacom's Pen ranging from $30 to $90 too but that is just a regular rubber pen, with no battery, etc. Wacom Cintiqs priced at similar price, and that is only an INPUT device.

42. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

I am sure apple isnt aiming an 800$ tablet that needs 100$ pen just for artists cause most of artists are either broke and they don't represent any significant population number for apple to make a product specifically for. They are trying to convince that this will replace a laptop or even a desktop for a lots of people which so far from reviews seems it cant cause of OS limitations.

48. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

What artist. Let me give you a better option. Both iOS and Android have Sketchbook Pro which is a very powerful little application for drawing, plus there are CAD apps too. I just rather do it on PC

55. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Unordinary Real artiste use Real pro tool not wanabe tool like this. Ever ear of Wacom? this is the real professional artist tool not this crappy overpriced thing.

63. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I love to draw and tablets certainly make it more fun. I looked at the iPad first. Previous gens were not good because the displays were just regular LCD's and they didnt have any special hardware that would make drawing easier. I got to try the ipad pro and my Surface pro 4 side by side yesterday at a special VZW store we have in Chicago. I got to play with both for 15mins without anyone bothering me. Here is what I came up with. Both are nearly equally precise in drawing. The Surface has some advantages because it has advanced drawing applications. But I compared them using Sketchbook Pro. They both were nearly pixel perfect where I could lift the pen and place it right where I left off. I typically draw with lots of short strokes. I did less zooming in with my Surface tho because it was more accurate to the pixel. Both had what appeared to be equal latency which was nearly none. So as soon as you touch and move the ink pours. Not as good as WACOM, but damn close. Saying the iPad pro is an artist tool? Well it depends. When you sue the iPad with a Mac than yes. But itself? NO! because the apps on IOS arent as powerful as what you'd have on the Mac. But its okay for touchups and drawing things for fun. But when you need finer details you need a larger screen, a more powerful tool and mobile apps dont have this. This is where the Surface has an advanatge because its x86 and it has better drawing tools vs the tools for ARM devices. Both pens are very smooth on the glass. The newer Surface uses N-trig, I actually liked the WACOM one better. Not that 2048 level of pressure is a big deal, but its an added bonus. I think for many a ipad Pro could replace a PC as long as you dont need desktop apps. But for those who do, the Surface is a nice option because when you need a PC you ahve it and when you just need a media consumption device, Windows has huge advantages over iOS. You can't beat you have native or its easier to add support for any file type, you can save files and use them anywhere, endless storage options as some of my artist files have as many as 20 layers or more and leave huge files that wouldn't open properly on an iOS device. Also you ahev a device that is more compatible with the rest of the world for the same cost. But I enjoyed at least giving the iPad Pro a try. if I still liked the iPad I think I would actually buy one. But I'm spoiled on Windows and I have a rule about owning 2 devices that basically do the same thing.

89. atio6

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 23, 2015

While your opinion on the iPad Pro's app ecosystem might be correct right now, I think you'll be proven wrong in the long term. For example, there are lots of surprisingly usable CAD modeling apps being developed natively for the platform, like Shapr3D. If used correctly, the iPad Pro can provide an unparallelled a workflow boost to engineers and designers, and I think that lots of developers will try to capitalize on that in the future.

100. jontaylor07

Posts: 169; Member since: Oct 12, 2015

Unparalleled versus a tool for which new applications are being created, but which also has access to a backlog of 20 years of great apps? One which also works with mouse, keyboard, and external displays natively when needed? Sure.

102. relic74

Posts: 13; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I prefer using my Pixel C over my iPad Pro for 3D work as it's a much better system for such things. First, unlike other Android tablets, the Pixel C uses Linux GPU drivers and the desktop version of Open GL. It can also handle both CUDA and Open CL CLI applications, though since the X1 CPU is using a 256 CUDA Core Maxwell GPU, CUDA is definitly the way to go. Android also has better 3D applications such as SpaceDraw, which contains an API for CUDA excelerarion, though designed to connect to a render farm using multiple Tesla cards, you can also use your local GPU if supported. What this means is you render times will nbe more than 10x faster than anything available for iOS as it's apps only use the CPU to render. Also encoding video files is just unbelievably faster versus doing it on an iPad Pro, what took my Pixels 40 minutes to do, I just lost interest in the iPad Pro after reaching the 3 hour mark. The power of GPU computing. When utilizing such apps I always work using a monitor, the iPad Pro was just an aweful experience, it didn't support my monitors resolution, aspect ratio, the DPI looked so huge I wouldn't want to use it even if the rez was supported and I couldn't extend the desktop, just mirror it.The Pixel C on the hand even supported my 28",4K touchscreen display, it's weird 17:9 aspect ratio, custom DPI, extending the desktop and I can even utilize the Nvidia K1 CPU/GPU that it's in the monitor (multimedia mode) as a mini render farm so I don't have to use the power on the Pixel C. Multitasking in iOS is extremely poor, no, displaying two apps at once is not consider multitasking. What is, is the ability to run apps in the background and besides a few GPS, audio and the new PIP, iOS is basically a single task OS. This is definitely not the way I work as I constantly have a terminal running in the background, encoding, rendering, compilimg, scripts, etc. I always have a film being streamed to my TV while I work on the Pixel C, etc. File system, anyone who has ever used iOS will know that it is simply horrible. Apps should never, ever manage their own apps. There should be at the very least a document management system in place, in which files are all stored in a central area, with support for every popular cloud service, zip, etc. The way it is now, well let's just say Apple should be ashamed of themselves, just miserable. I still like the iPad Pro as a media comsuptiom device but as a productivity device, yeah, no thanks

11. Unordinary unregistered

Btw, here is a good video using its biggest (and most seriously taken) competitor - Wacom and Cintiq.

74. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

i wont take seriously any review from someone with 55 subscriber

93. iLovesarcasm

Posts: 589; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

Several years ago iFans say very big tablets are stupid and ridiculous.

3. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

I'm surprised it's an 8.. the two cons after the 1st can still change in the future updates..

43. techandbeers

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

I think an 8 is completely fair. 1. Apple has the most and best Apps in the mobile tablet space 2. It performs very well 3. It remains limited Although I can admit I'd never buy one of these things, my iPad air 2 has been an awesome device on the go. For someone in need of a bigger screen with more intensive task capabilities, this is a great option. Please phonearena community, we gotta start giving credit where it's due. Just like this tablet isn't for everyone, same goes for a surface. However, they are both excellent devices.

52. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The vast majority of the apps for the iPad were first iPhone apps and they were turned in HD apps for the iPad. Which means the dev basically just added the bitmaps for the larger display. Many of the apps I had for the iPhone that are avail for the iPad, look 100% identical. In fact the laziest devs didnt even use the bigger screen to add anything extra to the app. Example, one thing that would be a huge plus is since the iPad is larger, there is no need for so many submenus. They could just use tabs or actually just get rid of submenus. Even Apple for their own apps could do this for the iPad versions and they dont. The apps on iOS are better looking, but some of the really good Android apps were done better as far as looks and capabilities. For most apps, the devs just kept them identical on both platforms which is ok. But to be honest, on both sides iOS and Android, the devs should really spend the time to really make tablet apps different. I mean they are making the money...right? Let me give a person example. I have an in-house application I created for tracking inventory. It uses the camera to scan the barcode which idetifies what the devices is and where it should go, so it cant be mistaking put where it doesn't belong, because we have so many devices in-house that are very similar. But instead off having lots of submenus, each category has one submenu and when you click it, it opens a row of tabs across the top and all you have to do is pick a tab for extra info about an item. On the iPad for the settings especially, this would be a huge plus vs scrolling a screen that now goes for 4 pages on the iPhone and nearky 3 on the iPad. If they made it similar to how Samsung did it on the earlier Note using tabs, the settings would be more organized. But they chose to be lazy and just make the tablet exactly liek the phone and it doesnt use the space the tablet offers. To be that's lazy for a company with the staff and cash they have. The iPad and iPhone yes are similar, but the concept of the tablet is; it should be mimicing the phone. Most of the apps can be universal, but many shouldnt be.

56. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

No OSX = fail.

64. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I agree. But I think Apple doesn't have to pull a universal platform liek Microsoft is doing. Here is what I think. Since iOS and Mac OS X are basically the same OS, why not have a device that can switch? Or even better, why can't iOS be a mobile layer that riuns with OS X similat to how MS did it at first with Windows 8? Windows 10 is great because you can still have the mobile experience in tablet mode giving you that familiar tablet way of interaction when you dont need the desktop. But a simple flick and desktop mode is right there. I mean a 2 in 1 device is genius and Apple really should have done it first. For me, even though I dont like OS X, I do use it in a VM for my music because I like the tools I use. A iPad pro with OS X and the option to switch to iOS and still download my favorite games, I would certainly buy that even if it was from Apple. But sadly its Microsoft who offers that and the stubborn ass devs wont jump on it and make the Surface a more worthy option vs buying a laptop or PC. A converged device for the same cost is a killer idea and for anyone to knock it, like Apple is pure stupidity.

5. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

But what's the real point of using an iPad....?

27. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

1. iPad apps/= Apple ecosystem 2. Good hardware 3. Solid performance 4. Polished, straightforward software experience, good stock apps especially for casual user.

32. janis

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

same apps as iphone, same os, and you pay 1k for mobile apps just to see them on bigger screen, that is crazy i would buy one if price would be around 300$ max, i like to sit relax and watch some YouTube stuff, but if that costs around 1k, customers must be completely addicted to that logo. i would get either laptop or surface pro 3 or 4 for same price with real os and hardware. but its just me. about that ecosystem, i have macbook pro and had iphone, its nothing so special with it.

44. techandbeers

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

Janis, what you said simply is NOT true. There is a huge catalogue of apps made specifically for the iPad that utilizes extra space. They are not just "iPhone apps." But I will agree with you the iPad pro is overpriced, but even the most praised developers will tell you iPad has the best mobile tablet apps.

58. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

You mean identical app with higher resolution texture and such? most ipad optimized app are like this. Very few offer more options than just a nicer UI. BTW i have an ipad air 2 and love it but i hate when ppl lie.

65. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

But the vast majority of the ipad apps are just iPhone apps. They simply resized them for the larger screen. The vast majority dont take advantage of the size. You still have to click through several menus for something that should take 1 or 2 clicks at the most. That's also a problem with a device that has one button. You cant assign other things to a button.

57. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Surface 4 pro give all of this but instead of Apple mobile app ecosystem you have access to real desktop grade app. The hardware is good but limited by a mobile OS using OSX would been better. Performance is nothing when you are limited. Software experience is a questions of point of view. To have to go dig in submenu of my setting just to change my video resolution. Not been able to choose the resolutions of my picture are some example of a not straightfoward software experience.. setting for an app should always be accesible directly from the app ( sure you can also put them in the setting menu of the device but its need to be in the app too! ) You mean moron user right? ppl who need to be told how they do thing and have liberty to do it how they want to do it.

87. dazed1

Posts: 805; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

The straightforward argument? LOL.

8. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Jk. Proves how John V is truthfully stating facts about this thing. Really, who is this iPad for?

25. TerryTerius unregistered

It fit my needs pretty much perfectly. The two things I wanted were a media consumption device with a large screen, and something that had a comfortable keyboard I can use to type up various projects for work. Although the surface Pro is a better laptop, it isn't as good of a tablet. And the Galaxy note pro is quite old by now. I didn't really want to pay for a surface book, especially when I don't actually need that kind of power. So for me, this fit perfectly.

34. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

+1 (Even though I disagree completely and would much prefer the Surface Book.) Instead of complaining/scoffing that there isn't a market for this sort of thing, let's just let the market decide for itself. I've been puzzled by Apple (and countless other companies before) to be proven wrong.

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iPad Pro
  • Display 12.9" 2048 x 2732 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A9X, Dual-core, 2260 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 10307 mAh

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