Feature Request is a new regular 9to5Mac series where authors offer their opinion on how to improve popular hardware or software products.
Before Apple even announced the oft-rumored iPad Pro, it unveiled a new version of iPad software, iOS 9, that included several new features that seemed perfect for a device with a larger screen. Sure enough, those features foreshadowed the launch of the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Zac did an excellent job last week of highlighting some of these enhancement that are great on the larger-screened device.
As Zac noted, iOS 9 includes a handful of really nice optimizations for iPad Pro. These include things such as Picture in Picture support for video and FaceTime calls, Split View and Slide Over multitasking, an enhanced keyboard, and more. While these features truly shine and highlight how much potential the iPad Pro has for professional use, I still feel like there’s a lot more Apple can do to take advantage of the larger 12.9-inch Retina display…
Secondary Display Support
One of the ways I find myself using iPad Pro the most is at my desk while I work on my dual 28-inch monitors. I use iPad Pro to have things like Twitter and email streaming constantly, or when a game is on, I use WatchESPN to stream it right to my desk on the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is the ultimate device for doing this thanks to its large and tactile display, but it could be even more useful if it could be used as an actual secondary display for my Mac without requiring third-party software.
Apple already has its AirPlay standard that, with the occasional hiccup, works pretty smoothly. For instance, with Apple TV, you can AirPlay a Mac or iPad to it and use your TV to either mirror or extend your Mac’s display. It would be incredibly useful if Apple added this capability to iPad Pro. You could AirPlay your Mac to the iPad Pro and use it to extend your Mac’s display for things like Twitter, email, and streaming video. The technology is already there and third-party apps are tackling this problem, but an official Apple method would be great.
Jeremy did a good job addressing this issue in his piece, but it’s something annoying enough to be addressed twice. While Apple has done a fair job optimizing some aspects of iOS for iPad Pro, there are many instances in which first-party app interfaces are an absolute mess. Look at the Notes app for instance. Functionally, it is great on the iPad Pro thanks to the ability to handwrite notes and more, but visually, it’s a mess.
Typing text notes out leave way too much white space on either side of the text. While I don’t know if extending text to full width would be best, there is certainly some room for fitting more text on the display.
Too much white space is a common trend in app interfaces on iPad Pro. It seems as if Apple is essentially banking on people always using Split View or Slide Over. In Mail, landscape email text is surrounded by blank interface space. Also, where is the version of GarageBand optimized for iPad Pro that Apple showed off on stage at the device’s unveiling event? That was one of the apps I was most excited to use on the larger display, and it’s seemingly not ready yet.
Lock Screen Info
When iPad Pro is locked, the lock screen seems like a huge waste of space. You see the same amount of info on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s lock screen as you see on the iPhone. There is so much more space for more details and actionable notifications.
For instance, if you receive an iMessage with an image, why isn’t there a way to quickly view the image directly from the lock screen instead of having to go into the messages app itself to view it. The same goes for an email with an attachment. People have also long called for iOS to support “widgets” on the lock screen. I’ve personally been against this on the iPhone because I like the simplistic look of the lock screen, but on iPad Pro, I think Apple Watch-like complications would be very useful. Quick access to things like weather info, calendar events, and breaking news would be very useful and make the lock screen somewhat less of a waste of space.
The App Grid
This is something that’s incredibly simple and likewise, incredibly frustrating. The iPad Pro in landscape mode has a 5×4 app grid and in portrait mode a 4×5 grid. The iPhone 6s Plus has a 4×6 app grid in portrait mode and a 6×4 app grid in landscape mode. It doesn’t make any sense that the iPhone can fit more apps on its home screen than the more than 2 times bigger iPad Pro can. In landscape mode, the iPad Pro can easily have a 6×5 setup and 5×6 setup in portrait mode.
I’ve long agreed with Apple’s decision to keep the iOS home screen nothing more than a grid of apps, but with the size of iPad Pro, it’s time to change that. Not to just show more icons, but to support some sort of way to display information, preferably in the form of widgets, much like I mentioned for the lock screen.
To put it bluntly, third-party apps are a mess on iPad Pro right now. I know this isn’t necessarily Apple’s fault, but there is so much more it could have done to ensure a strong lineup of apps optimized for the larger display were available at launch. For instance, there isn’t a truly optimized Twitter client right now. The official Twitter app is an absolute joke, while Tweetbot is arguably the best and it’s not officially optimized for the larger display. Likewise, the official Facebook app is nothing more than the normal iPad app scaled up to fill the 12.9-inch display.
Similarly, the two most popular video apps, YouTube and Netflix, have not been updated to take advantage of Picture in Picture and Split View/Slide Over (or native resolutions). It baffles me as to why Apple didn’t go to companies like Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and work with them to optimize apps for the larger iPad Pro. Presumably, iPad Pro has been in the works inside Apple for years now, and it was shown off two months before launch, so why aren’t more apps available for it?
For a device that carries the “Pro” tag, it seems insane to me that Apple didn’t include support for 3D Touch on the iPad Pro. I was skeptical of 3D Touch’s usefulness when initially announced, but now I find myself relying on it heavily when using the iPhone 6s Plus. There have been several instances of times when I’ve attempted to press harder on the iPad Pro’s display simply because I’ve become so accustomed to the quick shortcuts it provides on the iPhone and Apple Watch.
One of the instances in which I feel 3D Touch would be most useful on the iPad Pro is with the software keyboard. On the iPhone 6s, you can use 3D Touch on the keyboard to bring up the incredibly useful trackpad-like text editing tool. On the iPad Pro, you have to use two fingers to activate it and it’s not nearly as seamless and intuitive as using 3D Touch.
Safari on the iPad Pro is disappointing. There really aren’t any optimizations for the larger display and “Pro” angle of the new iPad. For instance, there is no way to view two Safari tabs side by side without extra software. This would be incredibly useful for doing things like comparing prices and features of products, or doing research for a paper.
Safari also still lacks some sort of a download manager. If I want to download an MP3 from Soundcloud and add it to my Music library, there’s no way to do it. Instead, you have to go to your Mac, download the MP3, add it to iTunes, and add it to your iCloud Music Library. Extensions allow you to save MP3s to Dropbox, but a Mac is still needed to import the file to iTunes and iCloud Music Library.
The Argument Against iPad Pro Running OS X
One thing many people have argued is that the iPad Pro should run Mac OS X because of its larger display. In my opinion, however, this is definitely not a good idea. OS X is not optimized for touch and there’s not much Apple could do to optimize it. The click targets are way too small to be easily navigated with multitouch. Instead of even considering putting OS X on iPad Pro, Apple should put all of its efforts into better optimizing iOS for the device. Essentially, if you think iOS isn’t well enough optimized for iPad Pro, imagine using OS X that has not ever been optimized for touch use. It just wouldn’t work.
A hybrid device with OS X and iOS paired with a detachable keyboard + trackpad seems somewhat more realistic, but again, for my personal use of any iPad, the last thing I want to do is run OS X. It doesn’t provide the combination of ease of use and productivity that Apple markets it tablets as having.
Overall iPad Pro Thoughts
Overall, despite some software annoyances, I really do like iPad Pro. It’s not a PC replacement by any stretch of the imagination (yet), but it provides a happy-medium between using an iPad and a MacBook. It does more than an iPad Air thanks to its larger display and less than a MacBook due to iOS. Personally, I think it’s a good thing it does less than a Mac, but as mentioned above, there are certainly a few things Apple could do to iOS to make it more productive. To me, using a Mac implies that I should do something productive. Doing things like watching Netflix are far more relaxing with the iPad Pro than on a Mac and more enjoyable than an iPad Air.
However, iPad Pro is the ultimate luxury device. There are very few reasons anyone has to have one. For most, the iPad Air 2 is probably a much more price-realisitic option, but once you get used to the giant 12.9-inch display, it’s hard to go back. For me, the first day of using iPad Pro was jarring. The screen seemed stupidly big, but once I got used to it, I was hooked. I had the same experience when I upgraded from the iPhone 6 to the 6s Plus. Once you go big, you don’t know how you ever managed with smaller screens before. Hopefully future versions of iOS make better use of all that extra space on iPad Pro.
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I can only agree. Great piece of hardware, but some catching up on iOS is needed.
Send all feature requests, etc. to http://www.apple.com/feedback Each of your requests do get routed to the right group and they do read them. If enough people request the same feature, etc. and it’s something that’s within reason, they’ll add it, it just might take them a little while. But from all of the requests I’ve made, more than 50% of them eventually were implemented, so I highly suggest using the Feedback page. I’ll read through the article and anything I also see as important, I’ll send in as well.
Excellent article! Can’t be repeated enough. And even though I don’t have an iPP myself, the lack of iOS optimisation for this device is a big letdown.
You lost me at “widgets on the home screen”.
I think 3D Touch on the iPad Pro might be a little bit of a problem since the iPad Pro screen technology has to work with the Pencil and I don’t know if they could do both, so they probably had to choose what was more important? A better Pencil product that actually has good precision and low latency or 3D Touch which may not get used as much.
I do agree with the icon grid. I’ve been complaining about that even on a 10inch IPad. they need to have the ability to get more icons on both the dock and grid and make it more scalable like it’s on OS X.
Supporting external monitors? I guess. I don’t know how many people will actually use it since the best way would probably be to have an actual cable, so they would have to add a display port to the IPad Pro.
As far as running OS X? That’s a can of worms that I don’t think Apple wants to go through since OS X and apps are written for CISC processors and not RISC, and then there is the RAM and processor requirements. It’s a tough call.
“Each of your requests do get routed to the right group and they do read them.”
While OS X on an iPad is not realistic imo, I wished iOS (as opposed to a Third Party app) would support remote login into a computer, whether that’s a Mac or PC (supporting rdp), including mouse support.
FEATURE REQUEST: 256 GB of storage
I know that there are cloud solutions, but sometimes you need things to just be local, especially for those of us with horrible Internet service providers in Canada.
More space = More App sales, more iTunes sales, more iTunes magazines, more iBooks…
Many readers will say, “I do not need more space. 64 GB works like a charm.” Why can we not ask Apple for more? Let Apple give us more. By not demanding Apple to give us more, we are allowing Apple to make bonehead moves like only offering a Mac Pro with 256 GB and iMacs with more limited storage. Microsoft is waking up and a lot of people are taking notice. It feels so backwards that it is the Surface Pro that offers up to 1 TB and 16 GB RAM, but they are giving consumers options for the first time.
I was sold on the iPad Pro for about 10 minutes until Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 6s with 3D Touch. How could they leave out such a keystone feature on what is labeled their “pro” device — and with a price to match? With the delay in the Pencil, arguably the most important feature and with the now apparent shortcomings in software, it seems that the first generation is one to skip.
I think that that in another year, iOS and apps will have caught up and a lighter, faster iPad Pro with 3D Touch will be released. It’ll take some willpower but I’ll wait.
FEATURE REQUEST: nothing, just let the developers do their things. And people buy their software. And the market to work out.
WTF, did you hit your head or something? Your request is NOTHING! If people didnt request things you’d have a 3.5 inch iPhone running web apps. Good Grief man you seriously need help, serious help. If you cant take off your Apple colored glasses long enough to play the request things game.
How about a way to limit and sort apps in Slide Over. Why can’t there be in option in settings like Location Service and turn on/off which apps are displayed in Slide Over. Then be able to actually sort or drag displayed apps based on preference or frequency of use. It is absolutely ridiculous that you have to scroll through 30 apps when I probably only have 10-15 that I regularly want to use.
Apple needs several articles like this. Kudos for the first volley.
Control Center also needs reworked for the iPad Pro.
I said this a over a dozen times here now, but Apple needs to go to padOS or twice a year major update to iOS. Once st WWDC for
API’s and iPhone specific tweaks and once in late winter early spring for iPad specific tweaks. I’m more leaning to padOS because after 5 years iOS for iPad is basically a blown up version of the iPhone. Split screen apps took Apple 2 years to do. Also, padOS might resolve so many apps not being optimized for iPad screens and not getting the 1x,2x,3x screen size anymore.
3D Touch should came to iPad first. Those quick gestures would be much more useful on the large screens of iPads then on an iPhone. The Apple Pencil should supported 3D Touch since the tech might be hard to do in a 12.9″ or 9.7″ screen.
Since they now have watchOS, and tvOS doing padOS makes more since. I really think having a more tailored OS and UI wouod help iPad sells more then anything. For a long time I have though iOS need a iPad specific update once a year and now think needs to be its own OS.
To use your iPad as a secondary display on your Mac, wired with low latency, check out Duet Display.
Apple has a great start with some great keyboard shortcuts in iOS 9 … And editing aids with text selection via cycled two-finger taps. But there’s still a ways to go, How about a keyboard shortcut for pulling up Siri to assist with dictation from keyboard controls? Logitech has figured that out – but that keyboard is way too heavy.
I remember when the ipad first came out…they used existing iphone apps… some develops did bring out quick fixes… but in general it took quite sometime to get a decent amount of apps that were optimised for the ipad…
At least with the iphone 6 plus they did allow for an extra row of icons but there are still some issues with how things are displayed…
The ipad pro is still very new… gradually developers will bring out apps that work better with the pro and there will even be specific apps built for the pro… i think with the next ios they will allow for better space management – but this is still kinda new tech.
I actually agree with some other reviews whereby they state the ipad pro feels more like a beta version because it is missing key features and ios doesnt always look nice on it…as with all 1st gens, you are kinda beta test driving it… the 2nd/3rd versions are usually the ones tweaked almost to perfection…just look at the ipad mini 4
A note on Notes: it currently has the perfect line length. The unfortunate result is white space on the sides, but making the lines longer will result in it being difficult to read, and that’s worse. I’ve done many user tests on this.
User manageable file system.!!!
Roubust full fleged Apps …
The biggest missing feature on iOS has not been mentioned here. Multiple user support. Currently, I have to sign in to every app separately and often repeatedly, as a result of not having a user account. While having one account is fine for 90% phone users, the iPad is a multi user device, and only having one user account is possibly good for only 10% users. Imagine having to log in separately and repeatedly on your desktop device, you’d never get things done! Third party software may help here, but that’s not the true solution either. We need multiple user accounts.
“The iPad is a multi-user device” — Really?
In my house it’s not, that’s my iPad and nowhere is written on there that’s its a communal device.
You don’t NEED multiple accounts, my iPad works perfectly once I log into an app, I stay logged in.
Maybe in the houses of the rich and famous, but in the average family it’s a shared device. Much like a laptop, which typically also belongs to one person but ends up being used by many.
“You don’t NEED multiple accounts, my iPad works perfectly once I log into an app, I stay logged in.” That is only true if you and only you use it. It is a horrible nightmare to use if that is not the case.
Why apple keeps ignoring note takers on tablet!!! This is one of the reasons I I chose surface pro 4 over ipad pro. I mean, all it takes is improving the note app, adding an eraser to the top of the pencil, adding a button that allows cropping from pdfs and photos in gallery or safari.
There’s much debate on why Apple chose NOT to include an eraser at the top of the Pencil…and they all make sense, if you have seen one, you’d realise it’s not easy to have the eraser there when the charging port is currently occupying that space. Not to mention all the high end brand names of pencils don’t have erasers attached and Apple always pitches themselves as a high end brand.
I don’t know how you managed to keep a straight face when typing that paragraph to be honest.
If an eraser makes it easier to you know, erase things, then that adds EXTRA functionality to the pencil – which makes it better. All you have done is listed two unbelievably weak excuses – one, which perfectly highlights form over function, and the other, in which you are confirming that Apple are simply following everyone else.
Don’t make excuses – an eraser on the top of the pencil would be a great thing – you know it.
Whether an eraser would be nice and whether it is necessary are two different things. The eraser on the Surface Pen isn’t perfect. And it’s easy for developers to add an eraser “tip” as an option.
I’ll be speaking for iOS in general, not just for the iPad Pro.
In my opinion, these are the top things Apple needs to implement in order to cater for more “pro” needs.
1. Proper file management (aka an iOS “Finder”)
…where WE get to choose how we structure our files and folders, not iOS. We don’t need access to system and app folders (/Applications, /etc, /Library etc in OSX). But within iCloud Drive we do need to fully and unrestrictedly create arbitrary folder structures, zip and unzip stuff and shuffle stuff around. I’d also love to have the app-specific folders hidden out of view (or placed inside an ~/.apps/ directory or something).
Google Drive for iOS works BEAUTIFULLY in this respect and I use it to store pretty much EVERYTHING in there. If it allowed us to zip/unzip files as well, it’d be 100% there.
2. Integration of online storage providers into a “single” virtual file system
In this way apps like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox etc would appear as Volumes in a top-level view, along with the local storage. Of course not all apps would (have to) appear as Volumes but only those that request permission to appear as such.
This would allow all (other) apps to access all files stored in these Volumes, using the iOS equivalent of the File/Open dialog. Needless to say that each app would have to request permission from each file-provider app.
3. Option to do away with app-specific folders in iCloud Drive
While this is good for anyone who hasn’t ever used a computer, it’s pretty much a show-stopper for anyone better than that. As much as I understand Apple’s interest in allowing computer-illiterate people to use iWork for iOS easily, we can’t have this decision CRIPPLE the functionality for the rest of us.
4. A better file access model
This becomes more evident while iCloud Drive file management remains miserable and we’re all forced (by necessity) to use Google Drive to store our files.
It is totally COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE when a file has to be copied from one app to another for access. Try editing a Pages document you have in your Google Drive and saving things back. It’s a total nightmare.
The creation of (2) above would pretty-much provide a solution to this problem, IF it gets implemented. Right now I hear that some MS apps can access Dropbox contents. but I guess this happens over proprietary APIs. Not good. We need something system-wide.
Yet something tells me all this happens because Tim in the end doesn’t want us just copying our MP3 collection to VLC via Dropbox or whatever and skipping iTunes altogether. So, yes, I think Tim is crippling iOS just to keep his iTunes business model pristine and untouchable.
oh, and needless to say, bring Pencil support to the smaller iPads! I’m not enthused about 3DTouch, but Pencil support alone would make me upgrade (and I just upgraded to the iPad mini 4!).
I draw a lot, anything from quick notes to diagrams and all the styli I’ve used so far (be it Adonit, Wacom or unbranded stuff), they all suck big time.
also, a few quickies while reading the article again:
– home-screen widgets or something: I totally agree. There’s just too much space being wasted right now.
– side-by-side view of tabs in Safari: again, I totally agree!
– multiple open documents in iWork apps. Possibly side-by-side on the Pro and as document tabs (or something) in smaller iPads. It’s quite tiresome when you have to constantly toggle between two or three documents in Pages and have them open one at a time
– Notes: allow side-by-side editing of two notes or at least remember the cursor position in each document while the app is in the background. In meetings I break down notes by topic, so it’s tedious when I have to focus and then scroll tons of text each time
– an option for a smaller on-screen keyboard (floating?). I find the size of the keyboard in the iPad mini in landscape mode just perfect for one-handed typing. I’d love to see this on the bigger iPads. (that’s why I love the mini… you can hold it easily with one hand while you type with the other one, on a keyboard that’s just perfect)
They have to change one really annoying feature of iOS 9. I don’t know if it is the same for the iPad Pro. The splitscreen is a great idea. But the way to change the second app is awfull. It is a 1x∞ “grid” of apps and it is annoying to find the right one. They have to change that to a homescreen-like grid, with customizable order of the apps to order your individual system…
With the current limitations of iOS I would never buy an iPad Pro. I also only use iPads and my iPhone for consumption, preferring to create under MacOS. The only way I’d buy an iPad Pro was if it ran MacOS. The feature set in iOS is far too limiting.
“Too much white space is a common trend in app interfaces on iPad Pro”
I think this is valid for the regular iPad as well
“One thing many people have argued is that the iPad Pro should run Mac OS X because of its larger display. In my opinion, however, this is definitely not a good idea. OS X is not optimized for touch and there’s not much Apple could do to optimize it.”
Sorry but this is a lame ass excuse. The reason why OS X is not optimized for touch is because Apple has done nothing about it. Apple took the lazy way out by using iOS in the first place. Same reason why the Surface RT failed with it’s mobile based OS. The Pro is doomed from the start.
So you want Apple’s take on Windows 8? Also, in case you didn’t notice, OS X runs on Intel while iOS runs on ARM. One way or another an OS X tablet would have to break compatibility or run apps in emulation. Windows RT failed because people expected it to run Windows apps and there were no Windows Mobile apps. But there are 300,000 iPad apps. Run iOS in emulation on Intel and those apps drain the battery (and Core M already gets worse battery life than ARM). Run OS X in emulation and “real” OS X apps run like molasses and drain the battery, and are not touch-optimized.
Microsoft WANTED to wean itself from dependence on Intel. They wish they had a viable ARM OS. But since they don’t they doubled down on running a desktop OS on a tablet. Sure there are some advantages but there are also important disadvantages.
iPad Pro should be able to run OS X when docked and used with a keyboard and a pointing device. Few are eager to run OS X on the iPad Pro in the tablet mode while using one’s fingers for touch. However, Woz used to have a stake in a company that modified MacBooks for touch, so OS X could be used with a touch screen if needed, as it was used in this way for years.
I would buy an iPad Pro in a heartbeat if OS X became a reality on it. Money is not an object here; unwieldily sized iPad running an OS designed for an iPhone with all of its limitations is.
But how would that work? Would the iPad be a dumb screen when docked, running on an Intel processor in the base like the Surface Book? If that were the case, just like the Surface Book we’d get a MacBook Air-class processor in a MacBook Pro-sized machine. It would also he top-heavy. And it would be confusing if literally none of the apps that ran docked ran undocked and vice versa.
I just want them to release full Logic Pro on there so I can be creative on the go..!
I agree that OSX might not be the best idea..the Surface isn’t well implemented..
Looks like when Android started on tablets…. Now some apps on android still look bad for big screens (Sorry for my english)
Can we add a search feature for split view. Scrolling thru my 50+ apps to find the app I want to open is a bit cumbersome
You gotta be kidding me: they forgot that? Geez Apple, did you ever test the darn thing yourself? This really doesn’t bode well if they start to lack in the QA dept.
Yeah unless I’m missing something. It’s a bit ridiculous to scroll thru all those apps. I always go by it and have to go back. Not too productive
“It baffles me as to why Apple didn’t go to companies like Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and work with them to optimize apps for the larger iPad Pro.”
Apple made sure productivity apps (Adobe, Microsoft, Pixelmator, Procreate) were optimized first. Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook may be an afterthought as they’re all about consumption. The added value of the Pro lies in productivity.
Split screen keyboard. If any iPad needs this the Pro does/
same for the iPhone 6s and 6s+ landscape optimisation, or the fact that the iPad STILL doesn’t have stock and weather apps
I still cannot understand why so many apps are still not optimised! Facebook, Alien Blue and even Dropbox look terrible! I’ve got some lesser known apps that have actually made the effort before these guys… It was a blessing in disguise that Spotify would crash on launch forcing them to redevelop for the Pro, makes me wish more apps did the same to force their hands.
They could code 3D Touch into the Apple Pencil. No hardware required. Be a nice attractive feature to the Pencil vs only for people who draw or take a lot of notes…