Tips for using the iPad Pro 9.7

I’ve had the iPad Pro 9.7 for the last few days, and wanted to give a little update. The initial intention was to use it for 2 weeks as a primary device. How’s that coming along?

The iPad Pro is a companion device

For my use, it definitely is not a laptop replacement. There are things which are just too hard to do on it: Financial Forecasts, creation of Sales Presentations. So there have been times when I definitely got my laptop out.

That said, I’m finding it very different to how I found an iPad Mini or regular iPad for content creation. After a few days with a keyboard I’ve been able to type at a broadly similar speed to how I type on a laptop. Not quite the same, but close enough.

The cellular ability means it’s always on, and that mean I tend to carry it around. It’s great for working when traveling, when having dinner, and other times when a laptop would be too much machine.

The iPad Keyboard is Critical

Without the keyboard, it’s just an iPad Air with nicer speakers. With the keyboard, it’s a primary input device for many uses. If I’m talking to the team on Slack, writing a blog on Medium or WordPress, or tapping away at Quora, this is the device of choice. It’s small and intimate.

More importantly, enabled apps allow you to use cmd-XXX shortcuts, which are awesome, plus there are built-in shortcuts like cmd-H (Go to Home Screen), cmd-tab (Tab between Apps) etc. The keyboard makes me SO much more productive.

But, the Apple Pencil, I’m not so crazy about. I think it’s in my bag somewhere right now. I totally get that if you want a pencil, it would be great. But it doesn’t attach to the tablet so there’s nowhere to put it, and the finger is a perfectly good input device. I’m sensing that the Apple Pencil goes better with the iPad Pro 12.9, which is a device heavily geared towards creativity.

The iPad Pro 9.7 is a business device…

And that’s just it. If you’re a creative type, the iPad Pro 12.9 with a pencil would be awesome. For a suit, however, this is possibly the perfect device. I find the iPad Pro 12.9 far too heavy, because I’m still going to have to carry a laptop. That’s not going to work for me, or for most business folks.

The 9.7, on the other hand, is light enough to add to your bag. It’s worth adding to your bag. The battery life is perfect (I don’t know how long it is, who cares, when you never run out). And the business apps (more on this later) are awesome on it.

… And also a vacation device

It has a brighter, less reflective screen, which adapts to the surroundings (True Tone) and this makes it workable for reading and browsing in the sun. This hasn’t been possible with any other tablet to date. Yay!

And it’s full-featured enough (more on the apps in a moment) that you can expect to be quite productive, if needs be. And at the same time, it’s unobtrusive enough that it won’t get in the way of the vacation.

The Apps are fantastic

The apps were mostly written for the iPad Air, and have screen shortcuts for the iPad Pro 12.9, but that means they will rock your world. Here’s a list of my main ones:

  • Outlook. I’ve ditched Apple Mail and gone for Outlook. With Office 365, it’s awesome.
  • Dropbox. This app needs a little work so you can sync folders instead of files, but it works great for our corporate devices and integrates with…
  • MS Office. The full fat Office 365 version of these apps is awesome, and thanks to Nadalla’s independent business strategy, it natively integrates with Dropbox so you can edit files in the apps on Dropbox in the cloud.
  • Slack. Where would I be without Slack in the enterprise? The Slack iPad app needs a little work, as it isn’t always perfect on context, but it’s still pretty awesome.
  • Medium. I’ve taken to blogging on Medium on my iPhone, but I have a feeling I’ll be moving to the iPad Pro.

The fact that Apple have this set of apps available out the box is simply fantastic, and makes the iPad Pro immediately workable.

Multitasking works great

This was my biggest fear, that multitasking would be an issue. Four-finger swiping between apps has long been a dislike of mine on the iPad, and it worked best when only doing one thing at a time. That’s not how I work. I blog and research, or write email and chat, or browse and watch a video. I’m always doing two things.

The good news is that the iPad’s side-by-side and picture-in-picture features mean that you can adequately do things at once. Combine that with keyboard shortcuts to switch what the primary one is doing and you can move extremely quickly.

And let’s not forget the awesome speakers, which are perfect for watching TV whilst you do email.

But the price…

My only issue is the price. I’ll probably return the pencil, but even still, $1200 is a truckload of money for a tablet. It’s an incomprehensible amount of money, in fact.

It’s true that the iPad Pro has the processing power of a Surface Pro, and it’s beautifully made, and the screen is exquisite, the keyboard very acceptable, and the apps are fantastic.

But it’s still $1200 and I’m not sure I can reconcile that for a companion device.

Final words

The main thing I noticed is that the iPad Pro 9.7 is no muss, no fuss. I haven’t spent hours with Apple Support like I did with the Surface Pro 4, trying desperately to get it to work properly. It’s just worked and been there, and has been always-ready.

There’s a lot to be said for that… But is it $1200-worth? I have 9 days to decide.

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