2020 iPad Pro: Complete Writer’s Desktop Or Distraction

Disclaimer

The 2020 iPad Pro is a tablet computer designed for most people’s everyday tasks. The model I will be discussing in this article is the 11 inch with 256GB of internal storage running iPadOS 13.4.1. While I use it paired with an Apple Pencil 2 and the 2020 Smart Keyboard for this review, I’m going to focus on just the iPad and the Smart Keyboard combo. Also, I’ve purchased this device, and I’m not affiliated with Apple Inc.

The Specifications

Photo provided by Apple.com
  • 11” Liquid Retina display
  • with ProMotion
  • A12Z Bionic chip
  • Pro cameras and LiDAR Scanner
  • Face ID
  • Up to 256GB storage
  • Apple Pencil (2nd generation)
  • Smart Keyboard Folio

The Good

I have been an iPad user since the days of the iPad 2. I wrote the first draft of a couple of my novels on the glass screen of that behemoth. Even in those days, I chose the iPad for its convince. The ability to take it anywhere and type or dictate a quick note makes the iPad a useful, portable tool to any writer.

Unlike in those dark days, in the beginning, we now have writing apps galore. If you are a Scrivener writer, there are apps for that. You got your choice of word processing apps from Google Docs, Apple Pages, Microsoft Word, and Ulysses, to name a few of the most popular.

The keyboard is no slouch, and it shouldn’t be for USD 150. Unlike the previous generation, the Smart Keyboard still works flawlessly but without the mark on the screen where the fold meets the screen. If the past generation is any indication, the keys retain their stiffness and provide the feedback that I come to expect from an Apple keyboard. Even on the 11” iPad, the Smart Keyboard doesn’t feel tight, but if you feel cramped. It feels as if I am typing on my Magic Keyboard from my old Mac Mini.

iPadOS is essentially just iOS for the iPad, and until iOS 13 was the same-named software even though there are some minor differences. With a unified code structure working between iPad and iPhone is made seamless with most software. If you are like me and use AirPods or any other Apple-made headphones with the H1 or later chip inside you can start working on one device and pair them with another tool in a matter of seconds with one or two taps, for me, that means I can be back to work focused on my work quicker. An addition Apple made to iPadOS 13 was the ability to use flash drives and external hard drives with the USB-C interface. It’s so lovely to be able to plug in a flash drive with pictures into the USB-C interface (in my case with a USB-A to USB-C dongle) and pull of images to insert into projects from the Files app.

While on the subject of focus, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the focused workflow. While Apple has added slide over and split-screen apps in the last couple of years, it seems to still not take away from the focus on the one main project. Even as I type this review, I have the Notes app open with WordPress to allow me to bounce between them for my outline and this article.

The Cons

Working with a touchscreen is a double-edged sword. While it is handy to reach out and touch your content, it leaves fingerprints on the screen. The iPad screen seems to be a catch-all for prints. I don’t know if it’s just the type of glass that is used or the coating, but compared to other touchscreens on the market, I’ve used the iPad loves to smear up with fingerprints. Apple has added the feature you use a mouse or trackpad to iPadOS 13, but that takes away from the touch of the content feeling that I get.

The Smart Keyboard allows for two viewing angles. I know this is nitpicking, but I would have preferred more options. I will say that first, this is an improvement to the previous version on the Smart Keyboard, and secondly, the new Magic Keyboard that is due out sometime this month ratifies this issue but at an additional $50.

Photo provided by Apple.com. Apple Magic Keyboard Folio

The last major gripe I have with the iPad is with the software limitations. I know. I know. I said iPadOS was one of it’s strengths, but it’s a mobile operating system. That means that some sacrifices had to be made to allow it to run on devices less powerful than a MacBook Pro (in some cases). It’s entirely up to the software developers to make use of every ounce of power that the iPad has to offer. The iPad will always be a mobile-first operating system, so there will always be some trade-offs that will need to be made.

In Conclusion

Is the 2020 iPad Pro a complete writer’s desktop or just another distraction? In my personal experience, the slight trade-offs from using the iPad over my MacBook Pro are outweighed by the benefits. I find that I get a 34% increase in productivity with the iPad over my MacBook, and that is not factoring in the parts of the writing process that I do exclusively with the iPad and the Apple Pencil. But your mileage may vary.

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