Apple reveals new iPad Pro accompanied by 2nd generation Apple Pencil promising creative heaven for the future

Oct 31, 2018

Upcoming Photoshop CC for iPad running on 2018 iPad Pro (Photo by Apple)

iPad Pro

Yesterday - among other products - Apple introduced its much awaited redesigned iPad Pros, revealing the most radical hardware change to the iPad since the Pro line was launched in 2015. The new 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPad Pro models bring drastic changes to Apple's tablet platform, hopefully making the iPad an even more valuable tool for creation and productivity.

“The new iPad Pro is a huge step forward for powerful, creative, mobile computing; it has an all-new thinner design, speeds through projects with the super-fast A12X Bionic chip and unlocks with a glance using Face ID in any orientation — while you’re sitting or standing, with iPad Pro on your desk or lap, with the new Smart Keyboard Folio and new Apple Pencil,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “There has never been a mobile device anything like the new iPad Pro; it has a gorgeous edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display that curves into the corners, breakthrough performance that outperforms most laptops, Face ID, support for the new Smart Keyboard Folio and new Apple Pencil, advanced new cameras and sensors for the best AR experiences ever in any device, a high-speed USB-C connector, louder speakers, faster wireless and more, all packed into a thinner device that has all-day battery life and is 25 percent smaller in volume.” (Excerpts taken from Apple’s 2018 Fall Keynote)

With their top and bottom bezels missing, the new iPad Pros are barely larger than their screens and - judging from the hands-on photos circling around the web – seem to be quite comfortable to hold for extended periods and move around as you draw. Even the 12.9-inch version looks to be much easier to handle now. I’ve owned Apple’s largest tablet in the past and although its generous screen provided a fantastic canvas when drawing in the field, it was a terribly large slab when using in any other scenario. Now, with the new hardware, the updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro seems to be the professional drawing tablet to own, especially with the extra graphics power added to its highest end model, but more on that later. 

Comparison of the new iPad Pro models: 11-Inch version on the left and 12.9-Inch on the right (Photo by Apple).

Apple’s speed claims are promising cutting edge performance with 30% better single-core performance and 90% better multicore performance over the previous generation. It is obviously hard to relate to this piece of information before testing the hardware on our favorite drawing apps, however Karim Morsy, the CEO of Algoriddim, a German company that develops the music and live DJ app djay, told Gizmodo that he was actually surprised by the performance of the iPad Pro, and claimed that it could handle some tasks better and with fewer resources than even a high-end MacBook Pro. Adobe’s plans to run a desktop-level version of Photoshop CC on the iPad Pro seems a tad more realistic now, after learning the specs of these new machines. Besides the computing power, the Pro's display also features the usual suspects of wide color support, True Tone and ProMotion technology that automatically adjusts the display refresh rate up to 120Hz for ultra-smooth scrolling and a more reflexive responsiveness. 

The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are available to buy now in the EU and US in silver and space grey finishes in 64GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB configurations.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for the Wi-Fi model and $949 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 for the Wi-Fi model and $1,149 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. You can preorder the new iPad Pro from Apple’s online store right now.The new iPad Pro is shipping in a week starting on the 7thof November.

However, if you consider rushing to the store right away itching to spend your money on purchasing one of Apple’s new tablets, there is one important tidbit you should know in advance that was not mentioned during the keynote. A rumor is claiming that only the most expensive iPad Pros (with 1TB SSD) will receive 6GB of RAM, the cheaper configurations will only have 4GB, the same amount of graphics memory provided for last year’s models. Needless to say, that graphics processing power is one of the crucial aspects we must rely on when working on high resolution drawings in the field or inking large, multilayered pencil drawings in the studio. We’ll update this article as soon as digitalEPIGRAPHY has more information on the matter.

Photo by Apple

Apple Pencil

With the new iPad Pro, Apple is also launching updated iterations of its Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (which is named Smart Keyboard Folio now). The Apple Pencil that was introduced in 2015 and left unchanged in the past 3 years was already an impressive piece of hardware. The new version addresses a few shortcomings of the original by the ability to attach magnetically to the iPad, and a new touch gesture that can be taken advantage of by developers to speed up tasks inside their apps. The awkward charging process of sticking the device into the iPad’s charging port is gone now, the new Apple Pencil automatically pairs and charges wirelessly when attached to the side of the iPad Pro. For that purpose, it is not fully rounded anymore but, instead, its enclosure has been sliced longways to give a short flat edge along one side. By this flat side the Apple Pencil can be attached to a specific area on the iPad's frame to charge.

Screenshot showing the new double tap settings for Apple Pencil 2.0.  (Photo by MacStories)

More importantly, you can also double tap on the flat edge under where your finger sits naturally to switch tools - for example, from a brush to an eraser - or perform other functions, though app developers need to add support for this. In Apple’s show room on one of the machines ran a future version of Procreate, where double tapping opened the radial Quick Menu of controls and buttons. Out of all the new announcements, the prospect of using the Apple Pencil with a Wacom-like customization makes us at digitalEPIGRAPHY the most interested about. I can already see taking advantage of such feature when working on my initial drawings in the field! 

The second-generation Apple Pencil for the new iPad Pro is available for preorder in the EU and US for $129 directly from Apple with shipping starting on the 7thof November as well. It is very important to know when purchasing Apple Pencil 2.0 that the new version only works with the new iPad Pros and the first-generation Apple Pencils do not communicate with the new iPads. 

As you can probably tell, we at digitalEPIGRAPHY are very excited about the new hardware Apple has announced, and can’t wait to get our hands on the new iPad Pro with the revised Apple Pencil. Naturally, we’ll thoroughly review the new devices both in the field and in the studio in the forthcoming weeks and share our first impressions as soon as possible. Finally, here are the short videos Apple created for its keynote:

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