"iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of personal computing," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in introducing the iPad Pro at the company's event on Wednesday morning. Cook highlighted how the iPad transformed the way people work, learn and tablets in the enterprise.
Describing the launch of the largest iPad in Apple's portfolio to date, Cook calls this "the biggest news in iPad since the iPad."
Going pro with iPad Pro
The iPad Pro has the largest screen built in an iOS device. Apple's Phil Schiller confirms that the large format tablet will run the same iOS operating system that is found on Apple's iPhone, iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPod Touch range.
The large 12.9-inch screen is multi-touch capable with a full-sized keyboard and 5.6 million pixels. The resolution is 2732 x 2048 pixels. This is more pixels than a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Schiller said, highlighting the immersive games, photos, documents and multitasking capabilities that the larger, high resolution display delivers.
"This is the most advanced display that we've ever built," said Schiller. There is a custom timing control to drive all the pixels. The display is constructed of an oxide TFT material to drive brightness with a variable refresh rate to conserve battery life.
Apple claims it has doubled bandwidth and performance with the new A9X chip, which is 1.8 times faster than the A8X that it replaces. Graphics performance has doubled year-over-year.
Apple claims this is faster than 80% of the portable PCs that shipped within the last 8-9 months. This is desktop-class performance, Schiller said, and could be used for graphics-intensive applications, like editing videos.
Apple says that you'll get 10 hours of battery life.
There is now a four-speaker audio system that can balance the audio depending on how you're holding the iPad. The speakers delivers three times the audio volume of the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Pro is just 6.9mm thin, compared to the 6.1mm iPad Air 2. The iPad Pro weighs 1.56 pounds, similar to the original iPad, but it has a much bigger screen.
For wireless, the iPad Pro comes with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi radio with MIMO. An optional 4G LTE version can deliver speeds up to 150Mbps.
The keyboard will dynamically change depending on the apps.
Apple is also introducing a new Smart Keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro to give users access to a hardware keyboard, similar to Microsoft's Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3.
The keyboard is constructed with a special woven material. There are POGO plugs on the side of the iPad Pro, which carries power and data and connects magnetically to the keyboard.
The software automatically adapts when the keyboard is attached to turn off the software keyboard, freeing up more screen real estate.
In addition to a keyboard, Apple is introducing a digital stylus that works alongside the multi-touch screen.
You can have a fine or broad stroke as the screen detects the Pencil's angle when placed against the display. The battery is said to last for "hours of use," and the Pencil has a hidden Lightning tip that allows you to recharge the Pencil by plugging it into the iPad Pro's port.
"This Apple Pencil is absolutely amazing," Schiller said, highlighting the low latency. Schiller said you can use the Pencil in native apps. You can use it in Notes or in Mail where you can mark up attachments and screenshots before sending them out.
Apple did not specify the exact levels of pressure sensitivity with its active digitizer.
For comparison, Microsoft's Surface Pen for the Surface Pro 3 offers 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, while Wacom, the technology used on older generations of Surface Pro tablets and Samsung's Galaxy Note devices, can sense 2,048 pressure levels.
Productivity and creativity
The Pencil can be used for drawing, CAD illustrations, writing, and more. Even Microsoft is on stage at this Apple event showing off productivity features of the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro.
Microsoft demonstrated the side-by-side multitasking feature introduced on iOS 9 using Office Mobile.
For creativity, Adobe took the stage to show how the iPad Pro can be used for design. There is a new retouching app called Photoshop Fix that can retouch images up to 50-megapixel large. The graphic-intensive app highlights the graphics and processing power of the A9X processor. Adobe execs said that the workflow they demoed is only available on iPad.
iPad Pro in medicine
In yet another demo, the processing power and larger screen of the iPad Pro allows doctors and medical students to visualize the human anatomy better in a 3D4Medical app.
This allows patients and doctors to understand how bones and muscles work together. For example, simulated movements can help physical therapists demonstrate movement to patients.
The iPad Pro can even be used to simulate surgical procedures. Doctors can use their fingers or the Apple Pencil to interact with the tablet to view, visualize and simulate.
Pricing and availability
The iPad Pro starts at $799 (£520, AU$1,138) for 32GB. A larger 128GB version will be available for $949 (£617, AU$1,351). The Apple Pencil costs $99 (£64, AU$141), and the keyboard cover is a $169 (£110, AU$240) optional accessory. The 4G LTE version with 128GB costs $1,079 (£702, AU$1,537).
The iPad Pro will come in silver, gold, and space grey.
The tablet and its accessories will arrive in November, but Apple didn't give a specific date.
- Read our iPad Pro coverage