iPad Pro (2022) review: I’m cautiously optimistic. Or foolish

Pros

  • The new multitasking feature of iPadOS 16.1
  • Strong performance

Cons

  • The new multitasking feature of iPadOS 16.1

The 2022 iPad Pro is powered by Apple’s most powerful Apple Silicon processor, has a fancy new Apple Pencil feature for creatives and note-takers, and has the same $799 or $1,099 starting price as its predecessor for the 11-inch or 12.9 -inch iPad Pro, respectively.

However, as has been the case for the high-end offering in Apple’s tablet lineup for several years now, the real story here is the software. There’s even more pressure on Apple to deliver this year with the addition of Stage Manager, a completely new approach to multitasking on the iPad with the launch of iPadOS 16.1.

Over the past few days, I’ve been using the 12.9-inch version of the brand new 2022 edition iPad Pro, complete with 1 TB of storage, 16 GB of memory, and Apple’s M2 Apple silicon. I need more time to grasp the full picture here (it’s complicated), but I have some early thoughts.

Specifications

iPad Pro (2022)
Processor Apple Silicon M2
Display 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with promotion and true tone
Memory 8 GB or 16 GB
Storage 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Rear cameras 12 MP wide, 10 MP ultrawide
Front camera 12MP TrueDepth FaceTime
Battery 10 hours
Connectivity USB-C Thunderbolt / USB-4
Operating system iPadOS 16.1
Colors Space gray, silver

Apple iPad Pro 2022 on a wood floor

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but…

The iPad Pro’s hardware continues to outpower the software. Although, with the addition of Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.1 and true external monitor support for the end of the year, iPad Pro users have more hope than ever that the iPad is about to turn the corner.

In my early preview for iPadOS 16, I wrote that the update fundamentally changed the way I use my iPad Pro. For the better; And I stand by it. I admitted to Apple the benefit of the doubt that any issues I’d experienced during early testing were bugs in a young beta and that when the official release arrived, the bugs would be ironed out. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

For those unfamiliar, Stage Manager brings resizable windows and the ability to have four open apps active at the same time to the iPad Pro and iPad Air.

External monitor support doubles the number of running apps to eight, four on each screen, but was pulled from the official release of iPadOS 16.1 so Apple could focus on fixing all the weird and wonky issues that Stage Manager was plagued with early on.

I’ll hold off on providing more thoughts about Stage Manager for now, but I will say that Stage Manager is full of little moments of brilliance, where you realize and see the vision of what Apple is going for.

Also: Apple’s worst product has become one of its best

For example, when I use the Mail app to triage my inbox and I hit Command-R on the keyboard to reply to a message, a new window pops out of my inbox, floating above the Mail app, ready for my input. I can move the window around, close or minimize it, just like an app’s window on my Mac.

However, there’s no doubt Stage Manager is far from perfect in its current form. I’m cautiously optimistic that Apple will get it right.

But I digress. So far, the M2 processor in the iPad Pro has been handling Stage Manager and my typical workflows without any issues. That being said, I didn’t have any performance complaints about my personal M1 iPad Pros performance. Actually, at one point in the last couple of days, I mistakenly picked up my iPad Pro thinking it was the M2 iPad Pro (they’re identical in design) and used it for an hour or so, all the while questioning whether the performance boost I Suddenly noticed was a placebo effect or not.

Turns out, it was.

Apple iPad Pro 2022

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The Apple Pencil’s hover feature is neat

Outside of the iPad Pro now coming with the M2 Apple silicon processor, there isn’t much that’s new with the 2022 model. That said, if you’re an Apple Pencil user, you’ll notice a trick that, so far, has been a very subtle addition during my use.

There is a new coprocessor in the M2 chip that is dedicated to handling interactions with the second generation Apple Pencil. It monitors for the tip of the pencil to get near the iPad Pro’s display, and when it’s within 12 millimeters, parts of the interface come to life in apps that support the new hover feature.

In the Notes app that means you will see a small preview of how the selected tool will look like once you put the tip of the pencil to the screen. In my case when using the pen tool to take notes, a small black dot mirrors the movement of the pencil above the display. In apps that support this feature, you can even hover the Apple Pencil over the screen and use the double-tap gesture to take additional actions.

At times, hover was obvious—such as in the Notes app—but other times, I didn’t notice it at all. For example, when using the iPad’s Scribble feature, the text field is supposed to get bigger when you write with the pencil, and then shrink back to its original size after writing and converting to text. I’ve only seen that happen in the Messages app, but not in places like Safari’s address bar where it would be useful. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong. I’ll keep experimenting, though.

More to come

I really want to spend more time with the 2022 iPad Pro and the M2 chip to see if there are any noteworthy differences between it and last year’s M1 iPad Pro. A couple of days of testing isn’t enough time to pass full judgment on the hardware and software that many, including yours truly, hope will set the pace for the iPad’s journey for years to come.

Source

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