Three Weeks with the 10.5” iPad Pro


I bought the 10.5” iPad Pro the day it was announced and received it the following Monday. My old Gen 3 iPad didn’t support multitasking, Touch ID, iOS 10, or True Tone. Basically nothing that makes an iPad awesome for work. It was getting pretty slow and desperately needed an upgrade. I’m super happy with the new iPad Pro. Here’s what I love about it after the first three weeks of use:

  • It is really snappy. I mean really snappy. Even faster than the previous generation.
  • Multitasking and split view is wonderful. I take notes while reading, do research while chatting with my coworkers on Slack or answering questions on Facebook Workplace, grab links while I write blog posts, and pop out videos to watch while I open brainstorm in another document.
  • Using Touch ID to unlock my iPad and authenticate 1Password on it really speeds things up. I didn’t realize how much I used it until I switched back to my old iPad and went without it for a bit.
  • The Smart Keyboard is very easy to type on. It took all of an hour to adapt to. I love it.
  • True Tone makes it possible to use this screen outside, even in the sun. I’m sitting out at a park right now writing this. As someone who works from home, this is a game changer. I now work outside for multiple hours each day, weather permitting. My old iPad and my MacBook Pro are almost unusable outside.
  • Swift Playgrounds is a fun little puzzle game when I need a distraction.
  • The speakers in this are great. They blow my previous iPad out of the water.
  • iOS 11 (I’m on Public Beta 1) really does make iOS easier to navigate and use. The new task switcher screen, control center, and dock make flipping between apps and navigating around the system a breeze. 
  • Taking screenshots and being able to mark them up or use them immediately is super useful. 
  • The slide down for numbers/symbols on the on-screen keyboard is very intuitive and easy to use. That said, I primarily use the Smart Keyboard.
  • I love the trade off between portability and how much I can get done on this device. The Tom Bihn Small Cafe Bag fits it perfectly with enough room for an Anker battery pack, a notebook, my Kindle, and my keys. This setup is an order of magnitude lighter than my backpack and MacBook Pro, making walking around town and finding a place to work easy and sweat-free. 

iOS 11 is pretty sweet. That said, Public Beta 1 is still pretty buggy. Apps crash a lot when launching and closing split view, the multi file selection is really buggy and doesn’t really work on springboard yet, sometimes I can’t get split view to launch, launching Notes from the lock screen with the Apple Pencil doesn’t always work for me, and I’ve had to reboot my iPad a few times because it became unresponsive. I can’t get TextExpander to work with the Smart Keyboard yet, which is annoying. iOS 11 is also a huge battery hog. I’ve been using my iPad for three and a half hours this morning and I’ve drained 61% of my battery in that time. I’m sure it will get better over time. 

I don’t use the Apple Pencil as much as I thought I would. It is super fast on the screen with the recent updates. I plan on taking a course on Procreate soon, which might spur more Apple Pencil usage. I was really excited to use Paper by 53’s diagramming features, but the shape recognition and Apple Pencil calibration severely lacking. Linea is awesome, but I just don’t draw very much. Perhaps that will change over time. The handwriting recognition in Notes is pretty good all things considered, but my handwriting sucks, so I prefer to type. 

I could work on the iPad most of the day. There are still a few things I find it easier to do on macOS, but the list is much shorter than on my old iPad. The tasks I’ve had to switch back to my MacBook Pro for are:

  1. File conversion. I had to convert a bunch of videos from MOV to MP4 for a coworker. There is probably an app or Workflow out there to do this, but downloading and manipulating a bunch of 500MB+ files is just faster and easier on macOS connected to Ethernet.
  2. Local web development. I prefer to develop in a virtual machine powered by Homestead. There is just no iOS equivalent right now. This isn’t a dealbreaker because I have options: Connect to a remote server and use Coda to pull down files, edit them, and push them back up to test. Or I could set up a system to remote into my home computer. These are fine for hot fixes, but spending a few hours working on and testing updates is just easier on my Mac with the second 27” screen and full local environment.
  3. Meetings. Regular meetings are fine on the iPad with apps like Hangouts and Zoom, but there are two big things missing: Screen sharing and splitview while on video. If I could take notes or look at documents in splitview while on video, I’d probably do 3/4 of my meetings from my iPad. Currently, I prefer to use my Mac so that I can open multiple docs and share my screen during meetings.
  4. Updating my Jekyll site. There are a few hacky workarounds people have made to kick off Jekyll builds from iOS using git repos, but my build and deploy system is super smooth on my Mac. I’ll probably just write posts in markdown on iA Writer on my iPad, then just switch over to my Mac to build and deploy. That said, I’m probably going to switch my site back over to WordPress again soon anyway.
  5. Creating, editing, and using CSVs to move data around. I export a decent amount of stuff from our CRM to use in other systems. I almost always have to manipulate the CSVs first with bulk find and replaces before uploading. I could probably hack something together with Pythonista, Workflows, and regex if I needed to, but I prefer to just use my Mac.

What all of these things come down to is that I prefer my Mac for these particular tasks, but I’m not chained to it. I’m completely fine traveling with just my iPad for a few days. But if I’m gone for more than a few days, I’ll take my MacBook Pro. As-is, my Mac usage has dropped by at least half most days, some days more than that.

In short, I love it.

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