Much as I like this new design, there is one thing that rubs me the wrong way, and it has a lot to do with the mixed messages Apple is sending. In its presentation, Apple made it clear that music professionals like DJs have been fans of the iPad for awhile and that the new power afforded to them by the A12X Bionic chipset would help them spice up their performances. That's cool and all, but I wonder how those DJs feel about the iPad Pro lacking a headphone jack. Seems kind of important, no?
People who lean on iPad Pros to actually get stuff done should benefit from the A12X Bionic, a tweaked version of the chipset we first got to know in the iPhone XS. I haven't been playing with these iPads for too long, and it's difficult to tell exactly what kind of performance gains to expect based off these demos. That said, the handful of AR apps I tried out seemed smoother and more stable than ever, and a setup dedicated to visually lush DJ software looked appropriately rad. We'll see how they do in real-world testing soon.
Speaking of important, how about that USB-C? The shift has been rumored for years, but it's finally here, and it stands to change the way people think about how to use iPads. In the past, if you wanted to hook other devices up to your iPad, you'd have to rely on peripherals and connectors to bridge the gap between Lightning and whatever else your hardware required. Moving to a standard USB-C port makes the new Pro line feel more akin to a proper computer, and Apple has already pitched several ways that professionals have been able to work these iPads into their daily flows. Unfortunately, we still don't have a great idea of what kind of external devices the Pros will play nice with; Apple has suggested you could connect a camera and save images directly to the iPad, but there's surely more at play here than we're currently aware of. (I'll update this story as I learn more.)
With that said, I did get to try a few accessories that don't use that USB port: the updated Apple Pencil and the magnetic Smart Keyboard. The former feels similar to the original, just with a flat side that you'll use to attach Pencil to the iPad's side for charging. (It's too bad that the magnetic latch and charger are only on the iPad's right side though.) Using it to wreck lovely pre-drawn bits of art in Procreate was about as fun as you'd expect, and the double-tap feature to jump between preset actions is legitimately great. Will it change the minds of people who weren't sure of the Apple Pencil in the first place? I sort of doubt it, but this is still a worthwhile update.