With the iPad Pro, Apple is unabashedly making the case that the iPad is a platform that can be used for serious work. While the iPad isn’t going to work for every person’s specific needs, its successes in the enterprise and among grassroots iPad-only professionals suggests that the iPad is already being used to do a whole lot of serious work. The new iPad Pro models and this fall’s release of iOS 11 (now in public beta) are great news for anyone who wants to use an iPad to get work done.
In June, Apple updated both of its iPad Pro models. The larger one, with a 12.9-inch screen, has always been great at text input because of its expanded dimensions: Apple’s Smart Keyboard accessory offers full-sized keys, and even the on-screen keyboard is big enough to be considered full-sized. But the smaller iPad Pro model, which gained a 10.5-inch screen (up from 9.7 inches) and a few millimeters of extra width in landscape mode, is a much better device for typing than its predecessor, with the Smart Keyboard gaining full-size QWERTY keys and its software keyboard stretching to take advantage of the wider screen.
With iOS 11, the typing story gets even better: Apple’s new software keyboard features a second set of symbols that can be triggers with a flicking gesture while typing; once you get used to it, text entry on the iPad speeds up a lot because toggling to the secondary keyboard for numbers and symbols becomes a rarity.
Still, it’s a bit baffling that with all this focus on files and productivity, Apple seems to not believe that sometimes files live on external storage devices. Files works with items in the cloud, but not (natively, at least) with local SMB shares, USB flash drives, external hard drives, or SD-card media. If a coworker gives you a few PowerPoint slides on a thumb drive for addition to the presentation, and all you have is an iPad, you’re out of luck—even if you’ve brought along your Lightning-to-USB adapter. You’ll need to get someone to upload that file to a cloud service or send it in an email. That’s a bit silly, isn’t it? Yes, one day our sneakers will be uploaded with the rest of us into the cloud, but for now, support for external storage devices will make the iPad Pro less likely to fail just when we need it.