Earlier today Apple unveiled a new version of the iPad Pro, measuring in at 10.5 inches. We got some time with the device, with a chance to try out some features in iOS 11, as well as the company’s new augmented reality platform.
Design-wise, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is very much like its 9.7-inch sibling. While its body is fractionally larger, it gets the most of its display thanks to newly slimmed bezels; down by 40%. It’s not quite on par with the Samsung Galaxy S8’s approach to bezel-less “infinity display” design, but the screen real estate feels substantial. Importantly, it also weighs the same as the 9.7-inch model, at 1 pound.
Inside the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip, while the display is allegedly 50% brighter than those in older models. At a glance, the colours on the iPad Pro screen really stand out, and the new 120Hz refresh rate makes working with the Apple Pencil feel responsive – at least for a few minutes.
I was able to use the 10.5-inch iPad to try a demo of Apple’s new augmented reality platform for developers, called ARKit. Pitched as the largest AR platform in the world, the idea is that app-makers will be able to make use of the iPad’s built-in camera and motion sensors to make virtual experiences for gaming, industry, etc. In the demo, I was able to move some pre-rendered objects – including a candle and a vase – around a real-world table. ARKit was able to automatically judge the size and depth of the physical object, and adeptly layer the AR paraphernalia on top.
The second part of the demo showed a similar process in action, this time with a Star Wars-themed game of chess. It was a fun, albeit superficial example of how AR could work with the iPad, and I’m interested to see how developers take this in more meaningful directions. As far as the 10.5-inch iPad Pro goes, the balance between screen size and weight made it easy to wield the tablet like a window into an AR world, although I’m not yet sure I fancy doing this for extended periods of time.
I was also able to briefly try some of iOS 11 features for the iPad Pro. We’ll have a fuller account of iOS 11’s various features for you soon, but my quick experience was that the new multitasking tools work a charm. Particularly useful was the ability to drag and drop apps as floating sidebars that snap onto the side of the screen. You can also drag and drop content such as text or images between apps, while Files lets you use multi-touch to grab multiple thumbnails and shift them about as a single group.
Apple has been keen to present the iPad as a professional device, despite declining sales over the past year. With a newly tweaked model, coupled with a greater focus on multitasking in iOS 11, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro – starting from $979 in Australia – could be the model to really push that vision.