Gizmo Geek: Farewell, home button

With no home button any more, the iPad Pro is all touch. This means there's more screen space available

Gizmo Geek: Farewell, home button
Gizmo Geek: Farewell, home button

This week we take a slight detour from our usual wistful gazing at opulent tech gadgets to instead gaze wistfully at the iPad Pro that Apple unveiled on 30 October. Since superlatives are moot, let’s stick to cliché—it is simply out of this world. This is a device that may well redefine the notion of a tablet—no longer a slimmed-down accompaniment to full computing juice, but a powerful machine in its own right. In fact, one that gives most laptops a run for their money.

“Completely redesigned” is what its makers are calling it. A first look does indeed verify that. With no home button any more, the iPad Pro is all-touch. This means there’s more screen space available in the same size (11 inches on the same size that gave us the 10.5-inch iPad Pro earlier). But even with the bigger screen, this new tablet is lighter and thinner (under 6 mm, the thinnest iPad ever). The screen itself uses the Liquid Retina display, a new type of LCD display, first seen in the iPhone XR.

Cosmetic changes aside, a new “monster” eight-core A12X Bionic chip drives the iPad Pro. One of Apple’s Neural Engine chips, it is designed to specifically handle artificial intelligence workloads.

According to Apple, it “enables fast Face ID, faster plane detection for AR apps and other new features that use real-time machine learning”.

Of course, Apple has already gone big on augmented reality (AR) implementation, and—what a surprise—the new iPad Pro is all set to become the “best device ever” for it. One can expect a slew of AR apps in the near future; examples include “measuring reflection on real-world objects” and “exploring entire universes”. As fantastic as all that sounds, the demo of Adobe’s Project Aero at the keynote was a stunning display of what this machine can do—simply put, it will allow developers to create and explore AR worlds in a way that is as close to Star Trek’s Holodeck that we’ve ever seen out outside of sci-fi. Project Aero is expected in 2019.

The iPad Pro has a new Pencil to go with it. Gone is the charging dock—instead, the Apple Pencil now snaps magnetically to the edge of the iPad (any edge) and charges wirelessly. It also has double-tap capabilities, letting you change from pen to eraser or between tools without having to tap the screen.

Something else that has been retired is the Lightning connector—now you get a USB-C connector that can charge the device as well as connect to cameras, musical instruments and external monitors. Oh and it can also charge your iPhone. Of course, this means that we are going to have to loosen our wallets for adapters to connect all our other peripherals.

The new iPad Pro should be available very soon. Prices start at Rs 71,900 (11-inch model) and Rs 89,900 (12.9-inch). The Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard Folio and other gizmos extra. By the time you’re fully kitted out, your bank account will be much emptier, but you’ll have some of the best that money can buy.