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M4 iPad Pro – my 1st weekend

This time last week I’d never used an iPad Pro – oh how things can change!

M4 iPad Pro

If you read any of my stories last week then you’ll know my M4 iPad Pro arrived.

It took me a few days, but over the weekend I made a proper effort to spend some time with it and find out what iPad life is all about. On the whole, it’s been a positive and interesting weekend and has left me with several things that I wanted to chat about today.

Now, do remember I am a newbie when it comes to iPads so some of what I’m about to mention may be obvious to you experienced users but I thought an honest first thoughts approach was the way to go…so here goes…

This past weekend was the first time I hardly touched a Mac – the only time I did was when I had to produce an audio podcast for someone. Other than that, I spent the entire weekend on my iPad, and yesterday didn’t even touch a Mac!

I know complaints early on were that iPads were limited by hardware but geez, that sure isn’t the case now is it? Not only does this thing feel beautifully engineered but it seems so capable. I can understand now why the attach rate for Mac users to iPad is so high – 50% of Mac users own an iPad and I get why.

I know there has been this clamour for iPadOS to become macOS, but after my first weekend on it, I’m unsure why. iPadOS feels like a pretty natural feeder OS to Mac if you ask me. Most of the things I wanted to do on the iPad came naturally enough to me – all those years of being a Mac user made getting used to iPad life pretty seamless.

Overkill

I decided to buy a 1 TB iPad as I wanted to try out the nano texture screen which I’ll come back to later.

I can’t help thinking though, that much as with my iPhone 14 Pro that had 1 TB of storage I may have dropped one here! With every app loaded up that I can think I’ll ever need, including Lightroom, Photoshop and Final Cut Pro I’ve only used 50 GB of storage. And now that we can edit in FCP directly from an external SSD I can’t ever think I’ll get anywhere near using even a quarter of its capacity – something you might want to bear in mind.

My iPad is a 13-inch model. Because it is so thin there was talk about whether it would be strong and not bend. I know there will be videos out there showing it bending under force, but all I can tell you is that I spent all day Thursday in London with the iPad in an unpadded, leather backpack and it is fine! Honestly, skinny as it is it feels durable.

iPads Magic Keyboard

I have a fair bit to say about this – and nearly all of it is good.

The fit and finish is, as you’d expect, flawless. You can tell immediately that it was purpose-designed. There’s just enough of a lip around it that protects the iPad. The rubberised material feels premium and is beautifully tactile but it does mark easily. I hope it stands up to daily use and doesn’t look tired and stained over time.

In the run-up to release, there were rumours of a clip-board angle of elevation coming to the keyboard – we didn’t get it and so far I’ve not missed it. Working at a desk, table or even on the sofa this Magic Keyboard is rock solid – there is no wobble at all. As I said, it just feels premium and I can’t imagine working without it.

The function keys are lush! The ones I’ve used the most are brightness, exposé, spotlight search and volume. It’s odd, as this is my first Magic Keyboard I can’t imagine them not being there. Although the keyboard is fractionally tight for me the overall feel of using it is gorgeous – the keys are balanced and light to use.

The larger glass trackpad feels as if it could’ve been lifted straight from a Mac – with its solid haptic feedback and a sense of precision. The magnets that click the keyboard together do the job well and despite what I’d heard are weighted perfectly.

Now to the downside. As you may know, one of the few AI tools I use daily is Grammarly. I use to check as I write these stories. It was one of the first apps I installed last week, but on Friday I just could not get it to work. Thank heavens one of my readers (thank you again Sam!) came to the rescue and saved me hours of painful Googling.

The answer is that it’s a limitation of external keyboards and iPadOS. To get Grammarly to work I have to un-dock the iPad and initiate it. If I were to write on the tablet’s pop-up ‘soft’ keyboard it would work perfectly. When I dock it again it will work but not in auto mode. In other words, I have to manually check every so often. It’s a pain and slows me down (and I’m already a slow enough typer!). I’m enduring with it as I’m sure I’ll get used to it but it’s annoying and left me wondering….are there any other apps that troubles the keyboard?

One last point about the keyboard is where the pencil attaches. The Pencil Pro snaps on solidly and feels safe, but I just wonder how secure I’d feel walking around town for fear of losing it. On balance, I think I’d have preferred it if maybe the pencil charged and was housed in the keyboard hinge which was another rumour that didn’t fly.

Multi-tasking

I’d heard a lot about this before owning an iPad.

One weekend in and I’m not so sure why it’s a big deal. Stage Manager makes sense and lets me quickly see what apps I have open and get back to them easily. Split screen view is all the multi-tasking I need – for instance, I make a habit of replying to every comment from readers & viewers – so I have my mail screen open on one half and either YouTube Studio or Medium open on the other half. It allows me to cross-reference and make certain I’m not missing anyone.

The Files app is finally an app I use! Often I have to take screenshots of receipts and put them into a receipt app (Dext). The first time this cropped up on the iPad it left me wondering about the best workaround – but then it struck me.

On a Mac, I would either be able to drag and drop a PDF or screenshot to the desktop and drag it into Dext. The only difference on the iPad is that first I have to put in the Files app – but now I have it sussed it works fine.

I knew when I bought the Pencil Pro that I wouldn’t use it that much – but the times I have used it, or rather the apps I’ve used it with have left me wanting more.

I hate smears on my display so I’m training myself to use the pencil as much as possible rather than my finger – make sense right? But there are times I could use the pencil but iPadOS won’t allow it.

In split-screen for instance I’d love to be able to drag the app larger by using the pencil – but nope, it won’t let me. The same goes for getting back to the home screen – I wish I could swipe up from the bottom of the screen using the pencil. And even when I’m not in split screen I’d love to able to use the pencil to make apps – say like Photoshop full screen. If I could use the pencil like this the whole time I’d hardly ever have to touch the display. I know I could use the cursor but would using the pencil be that much to ask for?

Touchscreen Macs

After using the iPad this weekend I feel I’m much better placed to get involved with several conversations – and one of those would be about touchscreen Macs.

I don’t get it – why would you want one? I mentioned earlier that around 50% of Mac users have iPads which I guess means that if they want a touchscreen device that is what they’d reach for.

I can’t think of anything less intuitive or comfortable than holding your hand mid-air to work on a Mac display – just because we can doesn’t mean we should – or is that just me? Horses for courses.

As we are talking displays, it seems a good point to talk about mine.

Nano texture

I have the nano texture display. On the whole I think I like it, but there is this little doubt nagging away at me as to whether I should swap it.

The display is gorgeous. A few times over the weekend I chose to watch content on the iPad rather than my 55-inch LED TV. There is just no comparison – the colours are so much more intense and vivid. Everything just looks sharper and crisper – until you get to see these new Tandem OLED displays you’ll not fully take on just how great they are.

Now the nano texture does its job ever so well. There are virtually no reflections or glare – the display is flat. It makes it comfortable to work on for long periods but when I compare it to the Studio Display which is not OLED or my iPhone 15 Pro Max which is, both of those just look a little bit more vibrant and punchy. While the nano texture does its job it does lose a fraction of the contrast.

As I work indoors almost all the time I’ve been wondering if I should swap and get an iPad Pro without nano texture. I compared them last week in store when I went to Apple Brompton Road and I swear then I felt happy with my choice – but now, I’m thinking…

There is a continual ‘what if’ as well – the nano texture doesn’t cover the entire display – so it means you see the bright glass around the edges all the time you are using it. In other words, what it could look like.

The other compelling point going in favour of swapping is the money I could save. This time around having seen my storage situation first-hand, I’d go for 512 GB which means I’d claw back £500 – now you can see my dilemma.

My only concern is whether the display would be almost too vivid without the coating. I still have 10 days in which to decide so I’ll give it some serious thought…

Pro times

I mentioned that I’ve downloaded FCP and later today I am going to render some ProRes log iPhone footage both on here and my M1 Max MacBook Pro and see which fares best.

I’ve utilised the USB-C thunderbolt port as well – I shoot all the images for these stories and all my other photographic work on a Canon onto an SSD card.

Last week I was being dumb – I was loading the photos into Lightroom on a Mac first and then waiting for the cloud to sync on the iPad. Now though I simply plug in my Anker 565 hub and pop the SSD into that – get me using an iPad Pro like a Pro!

Early days

Ad I said I found as much time as possible over the weekend to get used to what I had bought.

The overall carryaway is that I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve adapted to it. I had a few pinch points early on but for most of those I’ve already sorted and established a workflow.

It goes almost without saying that this thing is quick and snappy and seems to go on forever. Over the weekend I used it by itself, although always in the keyboard but last week when I connected it to the Studio Display it felt as if I was working on a desktop.

I’m pretty sold on the iPad – way more so than I had thought I would be. I wanted to like it but thought I’d find it too limited. So far though, as early in its life as it is, I’m loving it.

Now, I just need to decide on that display…

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