Apple's latest iPad Pro offers relatively superficial upgrades, but that doesn't mean it's not brilliant.
The new iPad Pro now says "iPad Pro" on the back. That sounds like a pretty boring way to start a review of a new piece of consumer electronics, especially when it comes from Apple, but it's perhaps just to establish that apart from one key upgrade there really isn't that much new under the hood here.
The iPad Pro 2022 is called the same, has the same dimensions and colours, has the exact same MiniLED display in this 12.9-inch variant, charges at the same speed, is offered in the same key versions and has the same camera.
That's not to say there's nothing new at all, however, as the iPad Pro 2022 offers the new M2 chip, which continues to slowly roll out across Apple's entire portfolio. It also means you get access to technologies like WIFI 6E, ProRes editing, SmartHDR 4 and a new Hover feature on the latest generation Apple Pencil.
We've broadly covered the difference from the M1 to the M2 before. 20 billion transistors instead of 16, 100GB/s bandwidth instead of 68.25GB/s, 10-core GPU instead of eight - it's all typical "spec talk" that adds up to a 20% increase in synthetic benchmark results from Geekbench and elsewhere. Not all workflows can directly benefit from the extra horsepower, but applications like Luma Fusion, Lightroom and certain games will undoubtedly benefit from a little more under the hood, so it's not entirely wasted.
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WIFI 6E is a great addition, giving the new iPad faster theoretical speeds, and the ability to snag a strong signal at the edge of a certain coverage area. It might seem pretty trivial, but it's still a pretty crucial update for those who consider themselves "pros" and who need access to the fastest WIFI speeds.
The hover feature I've also quickly become very, very good friends with. Primarily it comes in handy for artists who, for example, like to see a preview of a particular brush or pen size in Photoshop rendered on the screen before the pen hits the glass. But it can also be used to highlight apps on the front page, or theoretically much, much more once developers get to grips with it. Some have called it "3D Touch for the iPad," which seems slightly exaggerated. But clever, it is.
I'm working on a feature right now where I'm effectively using an iPad with Apple's own keyboard as a "laptop replacement", to see how, among other things, Stage Manager and more desktop-like editions of Apple's own applications and apps enable a potential shift down the road. iPadOS 16 is actually incredibly polished, and not just that, I have to say that the iPad is really, really close after all.
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These new changes aren't going to make all that much difference, but they only cement a key point I've been trying to hammer home for a number of years now; the iPad is almost ready, it's just about there, and it's excellent for just about anything you choose to use it for.