Apple is seeking to inject a stimulant into its flagging tablet sales with the launch of the iPad Pro, revealed tonight. The new device has a 12.9-inch screen and is as wide as the previous full sized iPad is long. At its heart beats Apple's new A9X processor which boasts 1.8x the computational performance of its predecessor. Moving into 2-in-1 territory the iPad Pro can be bundled with optional productivity enhancing accessories like the Apple Pencil stylus and Smart Keyboard cover.
Revealing the large screened new iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook said "iPad is the clearest expression of our future of personal computing". With iPad sales declining for six quarters in a row, Apple looks like it wants to catch hold of the coat-tails of the growing popularity of 2-in-1 devices. In Germany, for example, there were over 120,000 2-in-1s shipped during Q2 2015 and this form factor will represent 15 per cent of the total number of computing devices sold by 2019. An IDC analyst claimed that "2-in-1s are the only product category with a positive outlook over the next four years".
New iPad specs
Apple has chosen the iPad Pro to be the first device to employ its new 64-bit A9X processor. As mentioned in the intro, this is nearly twice as fast as its predecessor. Apple's Phil Schiller claimed the processor is "faster than 80% of the processors of portable PCs that were shipped in the last 12 months". The SoC's GPU has been improved an even greater amount and is now "faster than 90% of the graphics of the portable PCs shipped," according to Schiller. The GPU will certainly be taxed by the large Retina screen with a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels (5.6 million pixels).
Despite the extra power under the hood, and the larger screen, the iPad Pro still boasts 10 hours of battery life. The slim device, it's just 6.9mm thick, will be sold in silver, gold and space grey versions. It incorporates four speakers for enhanced stereo sound. The starting price for the iPad Pro is $799, for more than the base level of storage (32GB) and for LTE connectivity it will cost more. For example the 128GB version with Wi-Fi and LTE costs £1,079.
Accessories maketh a 2-in-1
Two important accessories were announced to extend the scope of the iPad Pro. The $99 Pencil is pressure sensitive (we don't know how many levels of sensitivity). It's a 'notable' accessory as Steve Jobs, on the topic of tablet design, once asserted that "If you see a stylus, they blew it".
For productivity many users like a physical keyboard and Apple has made an official keyboard cover for the iPad Pro called the Smart Keyboard cover. This $169 accessory magnetically attaches to a new smart connector port on the side of the iPad Pro.
To make the most of the new larger screen, and the productivity it affords, Apple has introduced split screen multitasking to iOS. Microsoft's famous Office suite was shown off in this mode as were other programs for drawing, CAD, note taking and more. A new app called Adobe Photoshop Fix was shown editing a 50MP image, showing the capabilities of the new Pro tablet.
What are your first impressions of the Apple iPad Pro? Let us know in the comments below.