Opinion November 24

AAPL: 118.88

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Feature Request is a new regular 9to5Mac series where authors offer their opinion on how to improve popular hardware or software products.

Before Apple even announced the oft-rumored iPad Pro, it unveiled a new version of iPad software, iOS 9, that included several new features that seemed perfect for a device with a larger screen. Sure enough, those features foreshadowed the launch of the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Zac did an excellent job last week of highlighting some of these enhancement that are great on the larger-screened device.

As Zac noted, iOS 9 includes a handful of really nice optimizations for iPad Pro. These include things such as Picture in Picture support for video and FaceTime calls, Split View and Slide Over multitasking, an enhanced keyboard, and more. While these features truly shine and highlight how much potential the iPad Pro has for professional use, I still feel like there’s a lot more Apple can do to take advantage of the larger 12.9-inch Retina display…

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Opinion November 18

AAPL: 117.29

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Having started out with my first impressions a week ago, highlighted my core questions and decided on Monday that the iPad Pro couldn’t replace my iPad Air 2 (only be an additional device), it’s time to make my decision.

I think between us at 9to5Mac we’ve been putting the tablet through its paces in a pretty comprehensive fashion! We don’t always reach the same conclusions about devices, but in this case I found myself agreeing with the bottom-line of each of my colleagues who’ve been trying it.

Dom described it as a giant Netflix machine, and it certainly is. With that huge screen and extremely loud speakers, movies and TV shows are very compelling, and – unlike a MacBook with the same size screen – you don’t feel like you’re looking at a work device.

Zac saw it as the best entertainment iPad, and I agree with that – with the single proviso that it’s just too big for comfortable ebook reading in bed. But reading ebooks on your lap is a delightful experience. Magazines are just wow. Casual web-browsing – sat on the sofa, just passively consuming content rather than planning to act on it – is a joy. In portrait mode, you can see a decent chunk of a page at a time, everything is big enough to read comfortably and it just feels like a much more relaxing experience than using a MacBook or a smaller iPad where you have to do more scrolling.

Jeremy found that it sat awkwardly between two devices – not feeling like a better alternative than either his iPad Air 2 or his MacBook Pro when it comes to either work or play. I agree 100% on the work side of the equation. I’m more sold on the play side of things, but given that I like to read in bed every night, ultimately I’d have to agree that my iPad Air 2 is a complete solution where the iPad Pro isn’t.

But it’s not just my colleagues’ views I’ve been reading, it’s yours too – in the comments on my earlier diary pieces. So let me address a couple of those before delivering my own final verdict …

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Opinion November 17

AAPL: 113.69

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Steve Jobs’ vision of a “post-PC” future really resonated with me. As a dedicated Mac and iPhone user, I was a day one fan of the original iPad, and have spent countless hours enjoying every full-sized iPad released since then. When the iPad mini came out, I happily shifted over to the smaller form factor until buying an iPhone 6 Plus, which pushed me back to full-sized iPads. Like many people, I wouldn’t want to give up my iPad, and would be thrilled if it could replace my laptop.

If any iPad had laptop replacement potential, the 12.9″ iPad Pro was it. So I was the first person in line at the local Apple Store to buy one, hoping that it would supplant either my iPad Air 2 or Retina MacBook Pro. But after a week of daily use, I’m convinced that the iPad Pro won’t replace anything, and am still trying to decide whether to keep or return it. Below, I’ll explain why…

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Nobody who watched the news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris could fail to be moved by the scenes and the stories emerging from it. It was undeniably a horrific series of events, and it’s only human nature to want action to be taken to reduce the likelihood of future such atrocities.

But there is always a danger at such times that emotion, rather than rational thought, will drive government policy-making. I won’t get into the broader theme there, as there are more appropriate forums for that, but there is one aspect that is very much on-topic for us: the battle between Apple and governments over encryption.

There have already been unattributed reports that the terrorists in Paris used encrypted communication. I have no idea whether there is any specific evidence for that, but it would hardly be damning were such evidence to emerge: it would be frankly astonishing if they hadn’t.

There are three reasons why Apple is right to maintain that it will continue to offer end-to-end encrypted communication no matter how much governments in the USA, UK and elsewhere may protest …  expand full story

Opinion November 16

AAPL: 114.18

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When I reviewed the 12-inch MacBook with Retina display earlier this year, my one question was this: could I possibly use such a low power machine reliably for work? For blog posting and editing, switching between chat apps and email, and keeping up with a few Twitter accounts, the single-port MacBook is totally fine, and the Retina display was an upgrade over the dated one on my old MacBook Air.

While I’d like to apply that same question to the iPad Pro, which has a slightly larger display and effectively twice the battery life of my MacBook, the difference in how iOS and OS X handle multitasking and window management currently limit my ability to apply my same workflows from the Mac to the iPad. That didn’t stop me from lusting after the iPad Pro when it hit stores last week. Despite the Pro in its name, I think the new iPad is the best content consumption tablet on the planet.  expand full story

Things have moved on rather a lot since I gave my first impressions and highlighted my core questions in choosing between my existing iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro. Further usage of it has made it abundantly clear that the iPad Pro cannot replace a standard iPad. It’s ridiculously over-sized for reading or watching Netflix in bed, and there are other times when the smaller version was simply more convenient.

But I do still love that screen! It’s great for casual web-browsing – better than either my MacBooks or iPad Air 2. It’s fantastic for viewing photos. It’s great for ebooks so long as you’re not trying to read them in bed. Magazines are amazing. Netflix is great with the huge screen and really loud speakers. Split View makes it a genuine multi-tasking device.

So, the question now is: send the iPad Pro back, or keep both devices? I said last time that I really couldn’t see a justification for having that much cash invested in iOS devices. One commentator responded to this with “Ah, just do it” – which I have to confess is a well-argued position.

I’d certainly find that easier to justify if it could earn its keep as a mobile writing device, so that was my next experiment …  expand full story


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