The iPad Pro is, at its core, a larger iPad. Larger screen. Larger speakers (four of them), larger keyboard, larger processor, and larger resolution. But so what? Well, I guess it depends on whether or not you believe in magic!
I’ve been with the iPad since the first one back in spring of 2010. The original screen was the perfect size for what it did well. But too big for some things, and too small for others. The iPad Mini does mini iPad stuff very well. But still it was too big for some jobs, and plenty too small for others.
Understanding the size of an iPad is based on two things. First, let the tablet do what it does well, and second, don’t use the tablet for things it doesn’t do well. So enter the iPad Pro, the bigger, faster, louder, smarter younger brother.
In the few days I’ve had my hands on an iPad Pro, I learned much about what a larger touch screen offers to a teacher, to students, and to the running of a class.
The beauty of the iPad Pro easily outshines the utility of a textbook-sized screen. Using a projection system via AppleTV shares screens, but the resolution of the iPad Pro can be more advantageous than a huge but lower resolution projection. Some apps like Leica’s SlidePath, or the 3D 4 Medical apps including Essential Skeleton and Essential Muscle. Anatomy apps are particularly effective on a large touchscreen especially when the object under study is full size.
Although the iPad Pro is large measuring 30.5cm x 22cm, its weight is actually about five grams less than my first generation iPad. The Pro is also half as thick. But no matter what, the iPad Pro is a two-handed device when held. The Pro has a 12.9 inch screen that Apple refers to as a retina screen.
Sensor apps become a truly collaborative effort with the iPad Pro. The large screen and magical touch interface makes manipulation of captured and graphed data a joy to explore. Apps including Vernier’s Graphical and Pasco’s SparkVue HD, while not formally optimized for the iPad Pro’s screen resolution, do offer a significantly more immersive environment.
While the iPad Mini and iPhone makes for a highly convenient and mobile data collection platform, and the original iPad size makes an excellent individual interface for data collection, the iPad Pro brings to life the obvious visual components while offering up nuances that would go unnoticed or inexperienced in a smaller frame. It is like the difference between consuming media on a laptop compared to a large-screen HD television. Or television compared to movie theater. Well, maybe not quite that big, but it’s definitely a different experience.
As Apps are optimized for the iPad Pro, and others are invented specifically for it, there will be an expansion into uncharted teaching and learning territory. With each new space (with “space” denoting a new size, form factor, or interface) we discover more about education. One area that has struggled to gain wide traction is with digital textbooks. The iPad Pro just might be the breakthrough needed to push the digital textbook platform into widespread use. The size of the Pro is more friendly to new digital text users because it does not require either squinting at the screen or manipulating the pages in an entirely new way that distracts from the traditional cognitive tempo and smoother workflow that paper books offer readers.
And while discussing books, the iPad Pro is large enough to hold up in front of a class of students without just going through the motions of sharing. You can actually present images by waving the iPad Pro around the class. I imagine a preschool teacher loving the Pro because it has a similar screen real estate as many children’s books that are read during circle time. And the bright backlit screen would make the viewing the pictures more lively and rich as the colors and artist’s details jump off the “page.”
There is plenty more to explore with the iPad Pro in science education, but since the Pro is less than a week old, I’ll be visiting this topic again. The iPad Pro has many new features like a slo-mo video option (aka: High Speed) as well as better light sensors. The touchscreen seems to have some hidden advantages that will be exploited further with the Apple Pencil. And the offering the growing potential of multitasking allows a more fluid (but not perfect in my opinion) solution for combining the power of Apps. The boomy and loud speakers makes the Pro an obvious choice for small to medium sized group work and communication. The onscreen keyboard mimics a laptop keyboard and has additional buttons and features to make the iPad Pro a worthy word processor.
The A9X chip running the show behind the scenes of the iPad Pro is noticeably faster than previous iPads. Not that we are all making movies and editing large pictures all the time, but to make the classic silly oversight, I’ll just go ahead and say it, “Who need all this power in an iPad?”
The answer is we all do because we don’t yet know what’s possible since we’ve never been here before.