iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

I’ve linked to Jeff Richardson at iPhone J.D. before. What you may not know is that Jeff not only loves his iPhone, he largely uses his iPad in lieu of a laptop. That’s why I was interested to read his recent post summarizing his favorite iPad keyboard shortcuts.

Because historically the iPad wasn’t much of a team player in terms of keyboard shortcuts, it’s easy to forget that is now a thing. You can work a lot faster on your iPad once you get these under your fingers. Perhaps, most importantly is that you remember that long-pressing the command key should get you a list of available keyboard shortcuts in most of iPadOS and iPad apps.

iPad Air vs. iPad Pro

I’ve had many emails lately from prospective iPad customers asking for advice when choosing between the new iPad Air and the 11″ iPad Pro. So here’s my breakdown.

The M1 Processor

Both devices use the same M1 chip. I expect that will change with the next iteration of the iPad Pro, but who knows when that will happen. Both devices also have 5G networking. The iPad Air comes with 8GB of RAM, and the iPad Pro has 8GB and 16GB builds.

The Displays

Both devices have Liquid Retina displays with 264 ppi. Both displays also have True Tone and P3 Wide color. There are differences, though: The iPad Pro screen is 11″ and the iPad Air is 10.9″. The more relevant difference is that the iPad Pro has 120 Hz ProMotion. It doubles the frame rate of the iPad Air, and depending on your preferences, it is a huge deal or not noticeable.

Camera System

Both devices have f/1.8 12MP wide rear and f/2.4 12MP front-facing cameras. The iPad Pro adds an f2.4 10MP Ultra wide rear camera with a LiDAR scanner, and TrueDepth to its front camera.

Authentication

The iPad Pro uses Face ID. The iPad Air uses Touch ID on the top button. This is another one that varies with the user. Both are fine by me, but that isn’t true for everyone.

Speakers

The iPad Pro has a four-speaker system that sounds noticeably better than the two-speaker system in the iPad Air.

Storage

You get limited options with the iPad Air at 64GB or 256GB. The iPad Pro goes up to 2TB of storage.

Colors

The iPad Air has fun, whimsical (but understated) colors. The iPad Pro comes in Silver and Space Gray.

Connectors

Both the iPad Pro and iPad Air have a USB-C connector, with the iPad Pro adding support for Thunderbolt and USB 4. Given the state of iPad OS, you don’t get much bang for your buck on that USB-C connector on the iPad Pro.

Price

The prices of these devices are closer than you’d think. While the iPad Air starts at $599 for 64GB and $799 for the iPad Pro with 128GB, if you even out the storage at 256GB, the iPad Air is $749, and the iPad Pro is $899.

Some Recommendations

You should lean toward the iPad Air if you are on the fence about this. The two devices are so close that you should only be buying the iPad Pro for a specific reason. For instance, if you love ProMotion or need better speakers, pay the extra. However, for the vast majority of folks, the iPad Air is plenty enough iPad.

What is Apple’s Take on the iPad?

Federico Viticci just issued his voluminous 10,000-word review of the new iPad Pro. It looks like there is a lot to like in the new hardware with that XDR screen and wicked fast M1 processor. The Apple hardware team continues to crush it.

However, the thing about all of these iPad reviews is that they all seem to come with an asterisk about the limitations of iPad software. For years now, the iPad hardware team has lapped the iPad software team. That lead only seems to get longer over time and, to power users, it’s frustrating.

While this new iPad runs faster than a MacBook Pro on some benchmarks, it still is pretty terrible at file management. I know the rallying cry this year is that we need something like Final Cut to take advantage of the sexy new hardware. I’d argue we also need the ability to efficiently work with tags and sort our files. Where Final Cut on the iPad represents the high-hanging fruit, there still is a lot of low-hanging fruit (like adequate file management) on the tree. I remember feeling the same way a few years ago right before WWDC. It always seems like the iPad software is just barely adequate to keep up with the iPad hardware.

While I feel this tension nearly every time I pick up an iPad, that isn’t true for everyone. I have one kid in college and another in grad school. They both use their iPads in class exclusively. The current apps and features are just fine for them. I think there are a lot more people like my daughters than there are like me. It’s when you start pushing toward the edges that these limitations show up.

All of this got me wondering how Apple sees the iPad. Do they look at it the way I do, as an alternative computing platform to the Mac, or do they look at it like my kids do, an excellent tablet device but never to be on par with a Mac? Put simply, are we still thinking about cars and trucks? Apple markets the iPad as a truck but develops software as if it is one of those tiny electric cars that feels just a step beyond a golf cart. It’s actually more complicated than that because what they’ve done at this point is build fighter jet hardware with a put-put car software engine.

I understand Apple is not a single entity but a group of people. However, I do wish they would be more explicit about what the collective Apple thinks of the iPad. If they look at it as my girls do, I would probably stop banging my head against its software ceiling and use a laptop a lot more. I know that is the case for a lot of readers. Since the M1 MacBooks hit the streets, I’ve heard from many readers and listeners who stopped using their iPads because the new Macs’ long battery life and excellent performance were enough to pull them away from the iPad.

I know Apple isn’t going to come out and explain where they see the iPad explicitly. It seems too much to hear them say, “We’re making the iPad to be good at this, but we’re not bothering to make it any good at that.” They will, however, be announcing the new iPad OS updates next month. I will be watching that carefully. Because while we are not going to hear Apple tell us directly their intentions for the iPad, we can deduce those intentions from the software they choose to ship. I’ll be deciding how much a role the iPad plays in the next year of my life based on that.

In Praise of the Moshi iVisor iPad Screen Protector



I have never been a fan of screen protectors. Apple devices are beautiful. Screen protectors are not. However, all of my tech friends have been bragging about the Moshi iVisor screen protector for the iPad, so a few months ago I bought one and installed it on my iPad. I did that skeptically. I kept the packaging. I fully expected to hate it.

I don’t.

For thirty bucks, the iVisor turns your glossy iPad into into a matte screen iPad. It removes, nearly entirely, the accumulation of screen smudges and dramatically improves the Apple Pencil experience, which will be an even a bigger deal with iOS 14.

The manufacturer claims I can remove, wash, and re-apply it, but, despite heavy use, it still looks the same as the day I installed it. The product comes with a 10-year warranty, which is kind of ridiculous considering the life-span of an iPad.

This isn’t for everyone. It changes the look and feel of your iPad. But if you use the pencil a lot, hate smudges, and wouldn’t mine a matte (instead of glossy) screen, I give the Moshi iVisor two thumbs up.

How Apple Reinvented the Cursor for the iPad

I keep finding myself linking to Matt Panzarino here because he just keeps delivering the goods, particularly with iPad coverage. Matt got to interview Apple Software Chief Craig Federighi about the new iPad cursor implementation and wrote it up at Tech Crunch. It was by far my favorite read this week. I continue to believe that delight is one of my primary reasons for using the iPad and the new cursor implementation brings that whimsy.

A Few Observations on Today’s Apple Event

More than Hardware

As we all come to grips with the fact that Apple is becoming more of a services company, it was interesting to see they kicked off the event with a discussion of the television and gaming subscription services. I think the pricing on the gaming service, $5 a month, seems about right. I had no idea what to think about the television content pricing going in. It feels to me like Disney has disrupted everyone with excellent pricing for a massive amount of new and old content. In contrast, Apple is going to launch with just a few shows. Had they charged $10 a month, I would’ve felt like it was dead on arrival. Five dollars a month feels better but still strange for such a limited number of shows. The fact that they are going to bundle 12 free months with the purchase of any Apple hardware makes a ton of sense. I guess now it is up to Apple to make good programming.

Camera improvements

There was no surprise about the additional third lens on the iPhone 11 Pro. The interesting part of this presentation was the explanation of what they intend to do with that extra lens through software. The new features look cool, but I need to see them in action. I think Apple gets the fact that camera improvements drive phone sales and I don’t think they’ll lose sight of that any time soon.

Battery Life FTW

One of the announcements concerning the new iPhones was improved battery life of four hours for the small one and an additional five hours for the big one. That is a significant increase. I suspect it has a lot to do with the improvements to the processor and the way it is so aggressive with battery management. If these improvements are real, a lot of iPhone owners are going to be happy. Indeed, that may be the killer feature with the new phones if it weren’t for that slow-motion selfie camera, because …

The Slow Motion Selfie Camera is a Bigger Deal than their Nerds Think It Is

As someone who spends too much time at Disneyland, I can tell you that a lot of people take more pictures with the lens on the front of their phone than the one on the back. Those folks are going to love a slow-motion selfie. This feature will sell iPhones.

Pro Max, Really?

I like the new naming conventions of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. I hope that the “S” days are behind us and next year sees an iPhone 12. I do wish they had come up with something other than “Pro Max” for the big one.

Presenter Diversity

There was plenty of diversity and new faces among the presenters, and they all did great. I have to think that after Craig Federighi’s first presentation, Apple instituted some training program for their presenters. They’ve all been so reliable since, and of course, Federighi is now amazing at it. I do still have a soft spot for Phil Schiller when he gets to talk about the iPhone camera. Here’s a guy that likes talking about mobile photography … and pixel density.

That $329 iPad

A common complaint against Apple is that they do good at the high end but don’t deliver much in terms of value pricing. I would argue that one exception to this is the iPad. That new iPad, which is just $329, includes smart connector (and Smart Keyboard) support and Apple Pencil support. It looks pretty great, and you could buy three of them for what I paid for my iPad Pro. There are a lot of people that could get by just fine with this new iPad and the new iPadOS, particularly with the improvements to Safari.

Apple Can Still Surprise

Because today was a hardware event, I didn’t expect many surprises. Nevertheless, Apple delivered. The new iPhone Pro line got a new color, midnight green. (I love it, and I’m going to buy one.) It was also a surprise to me that the back on these new iPhones is a matte finish. I prefer that. Hopefully, it’s a bit more grippy and makes the phone feel less like a bar of soap.

An even bigger surprise was the fact that the new Apple Watch, Series 5 features an always-on watch face. I thought that was several years away and I am delighted that we can now get it. I had no intention of upgrading my Apple Watch this year, but now I’m in.

The iOS 13 Release Date

While it is always fun watching an Apple event, I had some low-level anxiety throughout this one. I am very nearly done with the new Shortcuts Field Guide, and I wanted to make sure it was available on day one of the iOS 13 release. They never explained in the keynote when iOS 13 is going to release, but an Apple press release sets the date as September 19, next Thursday. That’s a few more days than I was expecting, and I’ll take that. Speaking of which, the new Shortcuts Field Guide will be my biggest yet, and it is coming out great. Stay tuned.