Billed as the “biggest news in iPad since iPad”, Apple has announced a major update to its iPad range at an event in California tonight. iPad Pro is a 12.9inch tablet running iOS which is exactly the size of two iPad Airs side-by-side.
And as if to prove it, Apple showed off demos running two iPad Air apps side-by-side.
According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, who revealed the iPad Pro on stage, it’s being billed as a full laptop replacement that “you can hold… all day”.
For such a monumentally sized tablet – which has a 5.8 megapixel display – you need a massive processor to power it. And inside the iPad Pro there’s an all new A9X processor which has twice the memory bandwidth as its predecessor and – according to Apple – 22 times the graphics performance in terms of raw compute ability.
According to Schiller, that makes iPad Pro faster than 80% of all portable PCs sold in the last six months, although we’d like to see exactly how that’s being measured. Certainly it could be a swipe at Intel’s underpowered Core M processors (although they haven’t been in 80% of all PC, obviously).
The speakers have also had an overhaul – there’s now four of them for power audio – but the real surprise is that there’s also a keyboard dock (with fabric keys) and a stylus. Of course, in Apple terms it’s not a stylus, it’s a pencil, but still… Essentially, Apple just released a rival for Microsoft’s Surface Pro with all the stuff that made Apple tablets different from Windows ones back in the day.
The 32GB iPad Pro comes in at $799 (R10 983), the 128GB model will cost $949 (R13 045) and if you want 128GB with LTE connectivity expect to pay $1 079 (R14 832). As far as the accessories go the Apple Pencil will set you back $99 (R1 360) and $169 (R2 323) will get you the Smart Keyboard.
To go with the Pencil, there’s a new note taking app (of course), and a hitherto unthinkable visit from the Microsoft Office head Kirk Konigsbauer during an Apple keynote showed off some features designed especially for Office on iPad too. Which is probably why tonight’s keynote was also streaming to Windows PCs for the first time.
Apple’s former CEO, the late Steve Jobs, had a well known dislike of styluses. We’ll say no more.