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« Painting under pressure: 30 days of iPad art by Iszy Iszard | Main | Guitarists will love RiffMaster Pro for iPad »

Have we already seen the iPad Pro?

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, as Frank Poole and David Bowman catch up with news from home on their outward journey to Jupiter, we see them use devices that are remarkably similar to the iPad. As others have already noted, the similarity to the iPad, both in Clarke's description and Kubrick's representation, is quite remarkable. However, we think it might have more in common with the long rumoured iPad Pro.

Not everyone agrees that Apple are planning to launch an iPad Pro, some can't see the point given that it would compete more directly with the MacBook range, while others object to the idea of a larger tablet device claiming that it would simply be too big to be usable. We have long held the opinion that iOS will eventually replace Mac OS X and that the iPad will shortly become the most important computing platform for Apple. During the last quarter Apple made more money from the iPad than it did from all its Mac computers (desktops and laptops) combined.

The iPad is already more important to Apple than the Mac

With that it mind Apple might already be hard at work on the iPad Pro, a tablet computer with all the power and flexibility of a MacBook Pro or Air, but running iOS. The Mac platform has had its day in the sunshine, Lion is a worthy upgrade to OS X, but all the iOS bolt-ons just don't feel right on OS X, unsurprisingly they feel bolted on. The Mac belongs to a different age and that age is coming to an end.

Many of the features that an iPad Pro would need to compete with a MacBook in terms of power and flexibility can be added through upgrades to iOS. For example, iOS 5 brings wireless syncing and slick application switching gestures that make the iPad user experience more complete, but we are confident that iOS 6 will bring some major changes to iOS that will further age Mac OS X.

On the hardware front there are two areas where the iPad needs reinforcing in order to be crowned an iPad Pro.

Computing power

The A5 powered iPad 2 still surprises us with its speed of operation, but there is one area in particular where its dual 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM struggle. Image processing, both video and still, is pretty slow. It's fine when the video file is optimised specifically for the iPad hardware, as is the case with iMovie, but when it's not optimised, editing is either simply not allowed or it runs incredibly slowly and only via third party apps. Open up Apple's Pages app and try to compose a multilayered document with transparency, shadows and rotated images; it's doable, but only just. More power is needed. This is just one area that could do from a 4 fold boost in power.

Screen size and quality

Take another look at the 2001 clip above, we believe the screen size featured on the Newspad is roughly comparable to a sheet of A4 sized paper (210mm x 297mm). We think giving the iPad Pro a screen that is exactly the same size as the worlds most common single sheet of paper would be an extremely smart move. Another smart move would be to give it a Retina class display. We have written about this at length and believe that most analysts are completely underestimating the impact that a 300 PPI display would have, not only on the computer industry but also on the entire publishing industry.

If the iPad is to take its place in history as the first proper successor to printed paper, then it really ought to at least match, or even surpass, its key features. An A4 sized Retina class display would do just that.

We would love to hear your thoughts on a possible iPad Pro and what such a device might include. Please be sure to leave a comment below.

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Reader Comments (4)

I like the idea of tablet devices replacing the ordinary desktop computer and laptop. But I can't help but feel that it's too soon for that to happen. First of all, and this is the most obvious part for me as a musician, is the serious lack of external ports to connect third party hardware. I mean, I love the iPad, hell, I'm writing this on an iPad. The whole reason I got an iPad is for all the interesting capabilities it shows regarding its music app selection. But I still think of it as a device less capable than my mac. The reason, well, lack of ports. I miss out on all the computery stuff that makes the creative workflow so much more serious and rich on a full fledged computer. The second reason, for me, it's the lack of file management. If you could store, move around, edit, and share documents via file management akin to Finder the iPad would gain serious independency.
To that end, I must say, that if it's any company that could pull those things off, it's Apple.

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Hi Sam,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I actually had a section about ports, but edited it out at the last moment.

Essentially, the iPad Pro would also need a Thunderbolt port. ^_^

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Whilst I agree that Apple probably will release a pro or equivalent high end iPad, I doubt it will come this year as many a rumour has predicted. As John Gruber of the Daring Fireball put it, they can't yet meet demand for iPad 2, so it seems idiotic to release another at the same time.

As for your notes I highly doubt that Apple would go for A4 sized screen. It would create more fragmentation in iOS, as there would be a 3rd aspect ratio to target. If it did get retina display, it would be like the iphone 4, simply 4x the pixels. That would make it easier for developers, and also for displaying existing apps/content. Trying to scale current iPad apps to that A4 retina display would be horrific.

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNizy

Hi Nizy,

I certainly see your point regarding rescaling artwork for an A4 Retina display. I just think that the extra work would be worth the effort. It's as close to a universal 'display' size as you can get - people are familiar with the size and proportions, they intuitively understand it.

Thanks for commenting.

August 4, 2011 | Registered CommenteriPad Creative

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