Computer Science, Education

Should You Buy an iPad Pro?


My MacBook Air laptop (left) with my iPad Pro (right) connected as a second monitor using the Duet app.

It’s been about ten days since receiving my iPad Pro from my wife as a Christmas present and I’ve definitely formed some opinions on it.  The biggest question I received from someone was: why get one?  If you have the same question, I hope to answer it for you.

Between work and home, we have just about every Apple device from iPhone 6 Plus to MacBook to iMac to iPad mini, iPad Air 2, and now the iPad Pro.  I  recently learned from watching Phil Schiller, Marketing leader for Apple, discuss on 60 Minutes recently that the different products are designed to make them compete for your attention and ownership. In other words, not one product will meet all your needs and wishes.  That’s why many of us, rightly or wrongly, have more than one Apple product.  In deciding whether to get an iPad Pro you have to consider:

  • What do you plan on using it for?
  • What kind of connectivity you want?
  • How portable does it have to be?

You should ask yourself if you need to produce software code for Apple products, or apps, that require using their proprietary software development environment called Xcode.  If so, then you can not exist with just the iPad Pro.  You need at least a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro to code apps for the iOS or Mac OS products like the iPhone or the iMac and put them on the App Store. If you want even more processing power than you need a MacBook Pro or ultimately the Mac Pro.  But for my personal use and for iOS app development, I’ve been doing fine with my MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM.

As a side note, you can write computer applications in another language, like JavaScript, and run them on an iPad or iPhone using a web browser.  So, you can do some kind app development using just an iPad Pro.  Since Apple’s new development programming language, Swift,  is open source, you could also use a web browser to write Swift server side programs using IBM’s Swift Sandbox beta environment.  You just can’t use the Cocoa Touch frameworks to create the user interface components for an iPhone and put the resulting App on the App Store.

So far, I like the iPad Pro because its screen is about as big as my 13″ MacBook Air, it’s always connected to the Internet through a cellular data plan, and it works with the Apple Pencil.   An unexpected bonus is that it also works as a great companion monitor  for my MacBook Air laptop using the Duet App (see picture above).  Using Duet, my iPad Pro doubles as a second monitor for my laptop, which makes doing software development on my laptop, while having other applications open, makes things even nicer.

With the bigger screen comes a slightly heavier weight for the iPad Pro than the iPad Air 2. But when you add the Apple Cover and Case the iPad Pro feels heavy in comparison and makes it difficult to hold it while reading for long periods when lying down on a bed or couch.  It fits fine on the lap and I know will work well in meetings when I can be reviewing notes or presentations without it being a distraction to others.  Although my main job isn’t a graphic designer, I’ve been enjoying the “Lego like” graphic design app, Assembly, and the other design tools made by the same company.  I’m also looking forward to improving my creative drawing skills when my Apple Pencil finally arrives.  My Apple Smart Keyboard is still on the way so I’ll be able to write more about that at another time.

If I needed an Apple device for developing for iOS and it was my only device besides an iPhone, I would go for the MacBook laptop with as much as RAM as possible because of its slimness, size, weight, and portability.  But if I needed and wanted a very portable business machine that does Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that always needs to be connected to the Web, then it would be hard to beat the iPad Pro.




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