Initial Thoughts on the iPad Pro

When the iPad Pro first came out I told myself I was not going to figure out a way to buy it until the second generation came out. I did well…for about 4 months. One day, while at Best Buy, I decided to check out the iPad Pro (first mistake). My initial reaction was "Wow, this thing is huge." It really does look massive at first glance. I then made my second mistake and tried the Apple Pencil. My third "mistake" happened a couple weeks later when I went to the Apple Store again to try out the pencil in some specific use cases. I was, to say the least, impressed. I also tried the Smart Keyboard with some typing tests.

I typed, for all intents and purposes, about the same speed as I can on a mechanical keyboard. I realized that with the bigger screen, a keyboard that is portable, and the Apple Pencil that this could be a great device to write, grade, and many other day-to-day tasks.

So I broke down and bought the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard case. Oops.

Initial (and unordered) thoughts on the iPad Pro:

  • The Apple Pencil is fantastic. It is basically like writing with pen and paper. Apple's built in wrist protection allows you to have any part of your body touching the screen while using the pencil without intrusion. This makes writing natural and accessible in any app.
  • I find it a pleasure just to navigate the iPad with the Apple Pencil. Since it has an integrated sensor within the screen you are able to have pin point accuracy with it. The pencil just adds another dimension to interacting with the iPad.
  • The bigger screen is a huge plus. Being able to have two apps open at one time and easily1 switch and work between them is great. I utilized this feature on the iPad Air 2, which was fine, but I always felt limited because of the screen real estate.
  • The Smart Keyboard case in my opinion is pretty awesome. I keep it on all the time as my cover. This allows me to setup wherever I am at and type productively on it. Also, it is easy to remove the iPad and just use it holding it in my hands or laying it on table to write on. It does add some weight to it but I have gotten used to this. Overall, I find the keyboard comparable to typing on a laptop.
  • I find doing many tasks such as writing, grading, researching, and browsing the web much more enjoyable on the iPad. Something about the tactile nature of the iPad makes the process more organic and natural.
  • It has caused me to think differently about some of my workflows. The initial process can take a little bit of time but once I figure it out then it is a breeze. Speaking of workflows on iPad, you should check out the excellent new podcast called Canvas by Federico Viticci and Frasier Spears.
  • There are many tasks that I think are probably faster on the Mac but I also need to remember to couple that with that I find myself more focused on the iPad. My theory is that I am more focused on the iPad because you can only have one or two apps opened at once opposed to a Mac where it is very easy to switch over to social media, blogs, or any other time suckers or wasters.
  • The Apple Pencil is great for grading. Being able to markup papers and assignments in Word or a PDF editor like you would on paper (but electronically) is fantastic.
  • The biggest hole in my workflow is some type of bibliographic management with Microsoft Word or Pages integration.2 On the Mac Zotero integrates with Word so managing citations within your document is very easy and convenient.
  • Oh, and the Explain Everything app is pretty sweet. You can check out my video demo here.
  • I'm still trying to decide what app I want to use for handwritten notes and marking up one off documents. I'm testing between Notability, Microsoft OneNote, and Penultimate.
  • The bigger screen is just awesome.

All in all, the larger screen, for me, has made working on iOS much better. I enjoy working on it more than the computer, handwriting is excellent, and the portability and battery makes it a great device to take on the go. I could easily foresee this being someone's computer replacement and I think it adds a lot of value over a computer. Like I said above, some tasks you have to rethink the way that you work on the iPad but this doesn't necessarily make it inferior but is just a different way of thinking about it. If you are thinking about upgrading I highly recommend it.

  1. Apple still needs some work to do on the app switcher for the second app that is open. It is only convenient if you have recently opened an app. They need to add some type of search functionality to quickly switch apps. ↩︎
  2. PaperShip is a neat little app that integrates with Zotero and allows you to view you documents and bibliography information but there is still no integration with Microsoft Word. ↩︎
Brian Renshaw is pursing a Masters of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, North American Patristics Society, and the Society of Biblical Literature. His research interests range from the Gospels, Catholic Epistles, history of interpretation, theological interpretation of Scripture, and discourse grammar. Regarding his involvement with the Center for Ancient Christian Studies, Brian serves as Director of Digital Production and is also on the editorial staff. Currently, he attends Sojourn East with his wife, Jen Renshaw. You can follow him on Twitter @renshaw330, he blogs at his personal website.