8 changes that could make the iPad Pro even better

A new feature here, a software tweak there, and the best laptop replacement yet will be even more capable.

9.7-inch iPad Pro
Credit: Apple

A lot has changed for the iPad since the last Work Beyond Mac column.

It turned out the iPad Pro was real, and as big as the rumors had claimed. Apple even revamped the iPad Air 2, matching the names, specs, and features of its bigger brother. iOS 9 added multitasking features to the iPad that were once nothing more than a dream. Having the ability to use two apps at one time on the iPad fundamentally changed how users put the iPad to work—at least, I know it did for me.

For the most part, the iPad Pro line is exactly I had hoped it would be. I now use the 12.9-inch iPad Pro as my lone laptop, with an iMac often sitting idle on my desk.

As with nearly everything in life, there’s always room for improvement and the iPad Pro is not exempt. There are aspects I really really love about the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, and then there are changes I can only hope are made with iOS 10 and a second-generation iPad Pro. Here are eight of those changes, in no particular order.

A smarter Smart Connector

The iPad Pro’s Smart Connector was originally touted as a way for accessories to connect to the tablet. Power is provided by the iPad, and data is transmitted to the iPad from the keyboard. In the last few months, however, we’ve seen just how versatile the Smart Connector actually can be.

Logitech just announced a charging base for the iPad Pro that uses the Smart Connector to power the iPad Pro. Firmware updates to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover and Logitech’s Create for iPad keyboard have both used the connector as a means to install the new software. Obviously, there’s a lot of potential with the Smart Connector, and it’s time Apple really unlocks its “smarts.”

I envision a docking station that looks similar to Logitech’s new charging base, but instead of serving a single purpose it would add ports for syncing photos from a camera, attaching a microphone, or possibly even an external hard drive.

True Tone on both models

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is equipped with ambient light sensors that are constantly monitoring and changing the color temperature of the tablet’s screen.

When you read about a True Tone display, it’s all too easy to dismiss it as an unnecessary feature. But after using it for several weeks, and then going back to an iPad display without the same tech, the value of True Tone becomes apparent. Photos and videos simply look better, and the screen is easier to look at over extended amount of time.

9.7-inch iPad Pro Apple

The Smart Connector could attach more than keyboards, and 3D Touch could speed up jumping between apps.

3D Touch

I’m still struggling to find a daily use for 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s. I often forget about the feature until I accidentally trigger it when scrolling through Tweetbot. With that said, however, I think the addition of 3D Touch on the iPad would make the feature feel more like the “right-click” mechanism it tries so hard to simulate on the iPhone.

It’s perhaps more important to have such a feature on the iPad because of the constant back and forth from keyboard to screen and back to keyboard users do. Instead of requiring several taps to select and manipulate a file in iCloud Drive or a compose an email in Mail, a single press on an icon and the following selection would streamline the entire process.

Now that I think about it, after the iPad Pro was released cries for Apple to add trackpad support to the tablet were abundant; if done right, 3D Touch could eliminate the need for a trackpad.

Fast charging

Shortly after Apple announced the smaller iPad Pro in March, news broke of an updated listing for the company’s 29W USB-C wall adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable acting as a fast charging solution for the 12.9-inch iPad. This combination of accessories aren’t included when you purchase an iPad Pro, forcing users to spend an additional $75-$85.

In my own testing, the 29W wall adapter cuts total charging time of the iPad Pro in half. This is something that should be included in the box of every iPad Pro. Five hours to fully charge an iPad Pro with its included charger is just too long.

A face-lift for multitasking

Multitasking on the iPad Pro is leaps and bounds better than it was a year ago. With a quick gesture from the right side of the screen, I can open another app and continue working with two apps in full view. However, picking an application from the slide over view is a downright frustrating, horrible experience.

There’s no discernible methodology for the order of which app icons are placed in the list. I used to think it was most recently accessed apps, but that’s not the case; I often have to scroll to the top of the list to find an app I was just using.

If the nearly endless list of app icons isn’t going away, Apple should at least make this list smarter and easier to understand.

Split view drag and drop

Often times I find myself copying and pasting a photo or text from one open app to another when using iOS 9’s split-view feature. It’s a process that works, but it could be easier. More specifically, a simple drag-and-drop feature to share a small subset of various content types (text, links, photos, etc.) between two apps would been a boon for getting work done faster on the iPad Pro.

ipadpro

The iPad Pro is killer at multitasking, but dragging an image from one side to another, or opening two Safari tabs side-by-side, would take its productivity up another notch.

Side by side Safari

Safari’s multiple tab support is handy, that is until you want to view more than one tab at the same time. With iOS 9 offering split-screen capabilities, adding the ability to view two (maybe more?) Safari tabs at the same time should be a no-brainer.

More powerful iCloud Drive

An improved iCloud Drive app is needed, offering more robust features similar to what OS X offers in Finder. In its current form, the iCloud Drive app doesn’t offer more than a means to view files and open them in select apps.

Having native support for common tasks such as creating a ZIP archive, downloading a file from a website, or renaming a file shouldn’t require Workflow-type apps.

Over the coming weeks I’ll try to tackle some of these complaints and figure out solutions with apps and accessories that are currently available. And who knows, maybe iOS 10 will put an end to some of the iPad Pro’s shortcomings—we don’t have too much longer to wait until we find out,.

In the meantime, it’s a pleasure to have revived the Work Beyond Mac column. I hope it helps you as much as it does me.

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