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iPad Pro: The real strength of the refreshed productivity tablet from Apple

Apple refreshed the iPad Pro lineup at WWDC 2017.

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For long, the tech world has attempted a single solution for efficient mobile productivity. And that’s when you realize the world isn’t ideal. Neither are consumers’ needs specific. Somehow, something’s always amiss. It’s that ‘something’ which holds back devices from being de facto standards, as one size doesn’t fit all.

Recently, Microsoft impressed the world with the Surface Pro and the Surface Studio that pretty much packs in everything you’d ever need — or at least drool over. The Surface Pro manages to do so in a form factor that’s efficient. But as I mentioned earlier, the world isn’t ideal. Individual preferences and consumer expectations have created the need for additional platforms. Specifically, that’s what has influenced the rise of iOS and macOS as respective operating systems in the mobile and desktop segments.

Personally, I believe it’s high time Apple got macOS to the iPad Pro for it to be a true productivity powerhouse. And yet again, I learn that the world’s not ideal. There’s somehow a reason why things work. And the way Apple works, it decides for you. You may hate it or love it, but that’s exactly what has worked for it all these years. And that’s what makes it known for products that ‘simply work.’

The new iPad Pro

Yes it’s a tablet, and yes it runs on iOS. But what’s interesting about the iPad Pro is it sits at the intersection between an iPhone and a MacBook. Two different platforms, two different operating systems (derived from the same base). They could be the same, but they’re different. Different environments, different app stores, different connectivity ports, different apps.

Microsoft’s philosophy has been to create one ubiquitous operating system that’s common across product categories — from a Raspberry Pi to a full package Surface Studio. But if that truly resonated with consumer needs and expectations, Microsoft would have found the journey to its much desired billion installs of Windows 10 a cakewalk.

The new iPad Pro runs on iOS 11, and that doesn’t change much of what it was until now. But the new display which is way brighter, and with 120Hz refresh rate, pretty much gives the same feeling you get what you switch from standard definition television to high definition and beyond. It’s something that you understand once you’ve experienced it. It may very well become an industry standard sometime in the future, but for now, Apple has set the benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow. 

The magic of a dock in iOS

Now as I mentioned earlier, I may love an iPad Pro that runs on macOS, but since that’s not happening, the next best thing is getting the experience of using the iPad Pro and a MacBook to resemble each other as closely as possible. Apple may not have brought macOS to the iPad Pro, but it took one small step towards familiarizing user experience to the extent that there’s now the familiar dock on the bottom of the home screen on the iPad Pro. For a user, seeing that dock below, coupled with the ability to sync files across other devices and better screen, faster refresh with the stylus and the new Files app means that the boundaries between mobile and desktop are truly diminishing. RELATED: WWDC 2017: Here are the top features of iOS 11

The magic of Files

The one way Apple seems to deal with this problem is very subtly take the rigidly close platform and give it an ounce of openness. The limitations while dealing with files in iOS has been ironed out with Files, a new app by Apple, which is exactly what it needed — a friendly file management system. In the mobility world, Android users are known to have a problem of choice between file managers. But in the closed Apple world, things are different. Here, Apple decides. And like it or hate it, it’s worked. And if it’s worked, why change?

The new Files app is a step in the right direction towards bringing more flexibility and choice in the way you access files from services such as Dropbox, OneDrive in addition to the default iCloud Drive. ALSO READ: Apple iOS 11: Release date, device compatibility, key features and everything else you need to know

With support for nested folders, you could import your folder structures from your desktop, indirectly via your preferred cloud platform. Simply put, if you use box or Dropbox on your MacBook, you could sync between your laptop and the cloud. And on your iPhone or iPad, you could sync between the cloud and your smartphone or tablet. And that’s exactly why I feel this needs to be a default OS feature. Instead of keeping it a separate app, the iOS system and macOS system should just make Files the default file management system. Call it Universal Clipboard of sorts for having all your documents universally across your devices. With the added advantage being, you’d never need third-party apps. But then, Apple would need to be generous with iCloud storage space. That’s precisely why users flock to free / affordable storage services. Despite problems such as fragmentation, that’s a strong reason why Android becomes so convenient.

The first step in a long journey

The new iPad Pro is a refreshing change. This could very well be a change that brings about a much-needed shift in the way the product evolves from now. It also becomes a more practical device to use for professional work. Until now the device largely served those who typed a lot, or who showcased creative work. What that meant was that you could create on a larger screen what was mostly a desktop or laptop, while you showcased your work using the iPad Pro. But now, given that iOS 11 lets you sync between devices, exchange information between apps and all in a very seamless way, it suddenly appears very promising for professional who have a lot of intensive work far beyond just text and images. ALSO READ: WWDC 2017: What the hell was Apple’s weird ‘Apocalypse’ introduction video?